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Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1 Are there grants for starting a business?

There is a large array of supports for starting a business including advice, information, training, mentoring, social welfare allowances and reliefs, and sometimes direct grant aid assistance for researching a business idea, employing people or investing in equipment.

Businesses that receive grant aid are those that have been identified as having potential for providing long-term viable jobs. Therefore, the support agencies are interested in the areas of business that are innovative, fill new market niches, replace imported products or services, demonstrate good management skills and have the financial viability necessary to succeed. Although most start-up businesses do not receive cash grant aid, all can avail of information and advice..

Q.2 Why are some businesses never grant aided?

Local Enterprise Offices can provide grant aid to Manufacturing or Internationally Traded Service business. Click here for details on what is an Internationally Traded Service. Grant aid assistance is targeted at activities that have been identified as most likely to provide opportunities for economic and employment growth in Ireland. Boards cannot provide grants to business that may displace an existing business.

Extensive research has been carried out to identify the reasons for business failures. For example, some activities have already enough providers and the market cannot support any more. Other activities may only be viable if the company is of a certain size or can fulfil a specific product need.

Areas such as retail trade must compete in the open market to operate successfully and, as such, are never grant aid assisted as it would give that company an unfair advantage over others. Training in good management skills or technical improvements is often more valuable to these businesses in the long term.

Q.3 I have an idea for a new business. Where do I start?

You need to do some basic market research to establish that a market exists, its size and how you can access it, before contacting your Lcal Enterprise Office. Next you need to do more market research and write a business plan. We also recommend that you participate on one of our Start your Own Business Training Programmes.

Q.4 Do I need to write a Business Plan?

Yes, you do. Of course, you can start a business without a business plan. But you will have difficulties in raising finance or accessing support from banks or Enterprise Boards without it.

Even if you don't need finance, a business plan provides an invaluable framework for planning how your business will proceed and later as a benchmark for assessing the health of your business. It ensures that you know what is going on in all aspects of the business and have a method for seeing how the activities interact.

Successful entrepreneurs will tell you that planning is 90% of the effort required.

Q.5 My business needs funding for capital equipment. Who will help?

Your Local Enterprise Office may be able to help if you meet the criteria. If this is not sufficient for your needs, you should inquire from the State body responsible for promoting industry in your sector (for example, Bord Bia or Bord Iascaigh Mhara) whether your business qualifies for one of their schemes.

Q.6 Where can I get a low cost or interest-free loan?

The main banks all have specialist units to support small businesses, some which may offer special to start-ups. Microfinance Ireland may be a source of finance for the entrepreneur who has unsuccessfully exhausted conventional funding sources. 

Q.8 Are there any grants available for accomodation projects?

Sligo LEO does not offer grant aid towards accomodation projects. Grants for B&B's may be available from Regional Tourism Office or LEADER Groups. However, they are unlikely to be given in areas where B&B's are already plentiful. Check first before building a grant into your plans.

Q.9 How do I get premises in an Enterprise Centre?

Generally, you need to apply to the owner of the centre (for example local enterprise development groups). You may be offered premises if your business fits within the kind of activity the owners are promoting for the Centre. Sligo Local Enterprise Office does not own centres in the county but has part funded a number of initiatives. Give us a call and we can advise you as to what is available.

Q.10 Can I start a business in my own home?

The use of a private residence for business purposes is usually subject to planning permission if there is a change of use.  It often depends on the type of business. For example, a financial consultant who does his/her paperwork at home but meets clients on their own premises would expect little difficulty in relation to planning permission. But opening a garage to tune performance cars might bring complaints form your neighbours - and a refusal of the necessary planning permission. Check with us before making any decision. You should also check with your mortgage provider or landlord, in case they have any objections, before you start to work from home.

Q.11 Are there grants for feasibility studies?

Yes Feasibility/Innovation grants can be offered if there is a real cost to determining the feasibility of a business and the proposed business meets the eligibility criteria. If the feasibility can be determined without large cost to the individual(e.g. desktop research) then feasibility study funding will not be made available. Feasibility study funding will not be provided for marketing materials such as brochures or websites. Reserching your idea is important. You should check with your Local Enterprise Office for availability and conditions, as these may vary.

Q.12 How do I register my business/business name?

You can register both with the Companies Registration Office. The CRO website ( provides information on the process. 

Q.13 Do I have to register for VAT?

Only if your turnover is in excess of (or you expect it to be in excess of) the thresholds €37,500 for services businesses or €75,000 for businesses selling physical goods. Below these amounts, you may choose to register but you should first obtain professional advice from your accountant. The Revenue Commissioners publish a "Starting a Business" guide and other leaflets, which may be obtained from any tax office, the Revenue Forms and Leaflets Service at (01) 878 0100, or the Revenue's website (

Q.14 How do I source overseas employees?

EU nationals may work in any member State. Non-EU nationals require a work permit (except for certain categories of workers who qualify under the "Fastrack" scheme). Solas may be able to help you with recruitment, through its overseas jobs fairs, "Overseas Recruitment", a booklet published by Enterprise Ireland, is essential reading.

Q.15 I am not an EU citizen. What must I do before starting a business in Ireland?

A non-EU resident who plans to establish a business in Ireland must apply to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform with:

  • Evidence to satisfy the Department that he/she has sufficient funding available.
  • A business plan.
  • Details of professional or trade qualifications, where these are relevant to the proposed business.
  • A "certificate of character" from the police authority in their home state, to confirm that they do not have a criminal record, etc.

In addition, the proposed business must employ at least two non-family members, who must be Irish or EU nationals. Work permits are not required for non-EU nationals who establish a business, though they may be required for any staff who move with the business.