The voyage into self-employment is exciting but not for the faint hearted. Captain of your own ship, and at times the CEO of Everything, it can feel in equal parts exhilarating and lonely. In Ireland, we are very lucky to have an amazing startup scene and plenty of support for a whole range of businesses. A little-known fact is that Dublin is home to the number two business accelerator in the world in the NDRC. As promised in 5 Things to Think About If You Want to Start Your Own Business here are some supports available.
Local Enterprise Office (LEO)
Your Local Enterprise Office offers training courses in social media, leadership, management, setting up your own business and business mentorship. In terms of financial support, they offer reduced cost loans, feasibility grants for market research, priming grants to support business development during the first 18 months and business expansion grants. To help you get online they operate a trading on-line vouchers scheme to cover 50% of your web development costs. Check out their Supporting SME Online Tool for more information on how they can help you.
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ACORNS is an advice, mentoring, training, finance and networking support group for women in rural communities. ACORNS help you to set up a business or grow an existing one. Applications usually open during the summer months with successful applicants starting in October. It runs for 9 months. It is an amazing growth opportunity for women in business and you can register your interest here.
Going for Growth
Paula Fitzsimons and the Going for Growth team offer an unbelievable opportunity for female led businesses. With alumni like Marissa Carter, Aine Mulloy and Jennifer Rock, it is an amazing training ground. Focusing on peer led round table business development through monthly meetings, it supports and grows female talent. Lead Entrepreneurs include Breege O'Donoghue formerly of Primark, Una O?Hagan MD of Meaghers Pharmacy and Caroline Keeling of Keelings Fruit, who volunteer their time to support and mentor successful applicants. If interested you can register for the 10th Cycle here.
New Frontiers is a national development programme ran by Enterprise Ireland in conjunction with 16 local Institutes of Technology. No Frontiers helps build and grow businesses on a part-time basis by teaching key entrepreneurial skills including mentorship by experienced business advisors, financial management support, market research, protecting and patenting your intellectual property and product development. You also get free office incubation space and a tax-free scholarship of up to 15,000 Euro.
DCU's Ryan Academy, Cork's Rubicon Centre and NovaUCD offer support for new ventures, entrepreneurs and businesses. For example, the Ryan Academy offers the Female High Flyers Programme and Startup Scaleup. NovaUCD offers mentoring and investment opportunities in addition to competitively priced office space. While Rubicon offers Cumas SECAD Female Entrepreneurship Programme which is currently open for applicants. If you are a graduate, check out your old college to see what they are offering alumni by way of innovation and entrepreneurial supports. Most colleges are active in this space and are happy to help.
As mentioned previously, NDRC is one of the top business accelerator and incubation hubs, not just in Europe, but in the world. It offers Irish tech and digitally focused start-ups a number of different support options. If your business is considered to be of high potential, and with the potential to export, you could secure up to 100,000Euro to build it. Sign up via the NDRC Venture Investment Team Contact Form to get in touch with their team.
Enterprise Ireland, the entrepreneurial mothership, supports and collaborates with all the aforementioned support services. So, while it's unlikely that you will work directly with Enterprise Ireland initially, rest assured Sarita Johnson and her formidable team are silently working away in the background on your behalf. Enterprise Ireland's work directly with businesses ready to scale and export through the Competitive Start Fund (CSF) and/or the High Potential Start Up (HPSU). The Competitive Start Fund (CSF) primes a business for growth and gets you ready to progress to High Potential Start Up (HPSU) stage. Both programmes offer financial support, professional mentorship, venture capital funding, and support to scale successfully. There are a number of industry specific calls through the CSF scheme with one specific call for Female Entrepreneurs usually in May/June each year. Oh and if you are lucky enough to be under 35 the search is on for Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur. Closing date is soon and it could be you!
Initially, self-employment may feel like a daunting prospect. But as we've outlined, you are not alone. There are many organisations designed specifically to help and guide you through the process. You should avail of their services and take the first step in designing your own version of success. Remember, if you don't do it, somebody will do it for you.