Sources of information
If you want to become self-employed you may get help and support from a number of agencies. This document gives a general overview of these organisations and sources of information.
General information on setting up a business
Businessregulation.ie is a portal to help you identify the main regulations which affect your business. It includes information on regulation for start-up companies, key regulations for all businesses and sector-specific regulation.
You will also find a guide to starting your own business on basis.ie, which provides information on subjects such as forming a company, employing staff, taxation and regulation.
There is a guide available on the website of the Department of Social Protection called Toil and Trouble: a guide through the maze of self-employment (pdf).
Government agencies and departments
Companies Registration Office
The Companies Registration Office (CRO) main functions are:
- The incorporation of companies and the registration of business names.
- The receipt and registration of post incorporation documents
- The enforcement of the Companies Acts in relation to the filing obligations of companies.
- Making information available to the public
Its website has a detailed list of FAQs which answer some of the most common questions about the role of the CRO.
You can register different types of businesses. You can register a company, a limited partnership or a business name with the CRO. You have to register a business name if you (or your company) carry out your business under a name other than your own true name. The Registrar of Friendly Societies deals with the registration of industrial and provident societies, trade unions and friendly societies. You can do much of this online in the Companies Online Registration Environment (CORE).
Country Enterprise Boards
County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) provide financial and other supports for small businesses as they start up or when they are trying to expand. Their role is to develop indigenous enterprise potential, to stimulate economic activity at local level and to promote microenterprises (10 or fewer employees). CEBs can support sole traders, firms and community groups. The projects must be commercially viable or have the capacity to become commercially viable.
Department of Social Protection
The Department of Social Protection is responsible for social insurance (PRSI) and publishes a detailed Employers' Guide to PRSI (SW3). The Department's Jobs Faciliators in local social welfare offices can help you if you are getting a jobseeker's payment and wish to set up your own business.
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is responsible for developing and implementing policy to enhance the enterprise environment. It has published a simple guide called Managing Out of a Crisis (pdf) which aims to assist small businesses in difficulty.
Enterprise Ireland is an Irish Government agency which is responsible for the development of Irish industry. It provides advice and financial support to High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) businesses. You can find information about High Potential Start-Ups on its website.
The Health and Safety Authority
The Health and Safety Authority is responsible for enforcing occupational safety and health law, promoting and encouraging accident prevention, and providing information and advice on health and safety. Its Taking Care of Business initative helps small businesses comply with their health and safety obligations and provides online tools to help you to generate your own risk assessments and safety statements.
The IDA (Industrial Development Agency) Ireland is an Irish Government agency with responsibility for securing new investment from overseas in manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors. It can provide information about setting up a business in Ireland and may provide grants to companies wishing to locate in Ireland or expand their existing operations in Ireland.
Integrated Local Development Companies/Partnership Companies
Integrated Local Development Companies (ILDCs) and Partnership Companies were established to tackle unemployment in particular areas of the country. Each Company is made up of representatives from the business community, State agencies and community groups. Enterprise Officers from ILDCs and Partnerships can offer advice and information on starting your own business. If you live in an ILDC or partnership area they can also approve your business plan for the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance and the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance.
The National Employment Rights Authority
The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) aims to secure compliance with employment rights legislation. Its main activities include monitoring employment conditions through its inspectors. It can also enforce compliance and seek redress for breaches of employment rights. You can find information on employment legislation for employers and a guide for employers who are starting a new business with paid employees. Since 4 January 2012 information on rights and entitlements under employment legislation (previously provided by NERA) is provided by Workplace Relations Customer Services.
The Revenue Commissioners
The Revenue Commissioners provide extensive information about your tax obligations. In particular A Guide to Self Assessment (IT 10) (pdf) and Starting in Business - a Revenue Guide (IT 48) (pdf) answer many of the basic questions people ask about tax when becoming self-employed and setting up a business.
Representative bodies and professional organisations
The following organisations provide their members with advice and information about running a business:
IBEC (Irish Business and Employers Confederation) is the national umbrella organisation for business and employers in Ireland. It offers support and advice to employers.
ISME (The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association) is the independent organisation for the Irish small and medium business sector.
SFA (Small Firms Association) represents the needs of small enterprises (that is, those employing less than 50 employees).
Specific economic areas
The following organisations may be able to help you if you are proposing to start a business in their sector.
Bord Bia: Food, drink and horticulture companies looking for export assistance
Bord Iascaigh Mhara: Companies in the seafood industry
Fáilte Ireland: Companies in the tourism industry
Teagasc: Businesses in the agri-food industry
Údarás na Gaeltachta: Companies located in the Gaeltacht
Financial and other supports
If you are starting a business, you may get extra supports, for example, grants for training, market research, business plans and access to loans to buy equipment. Your local County or City Enterprise Board can provide grants for starting or expanding a business as well as feasibility grants.
As part of the Action Plan for Jobs (see below), Microfinance Ireland is providing loans of up to €25,000 to small businesses with no more than 10 employees, including sole traders and start-ups. The loans will be for commercially viable proposals that have been refused credit by the banks. The Fund is open for applications from 1 October 2012. Details of how to apply and forms are available on microfinance.ie enterpriseboards.ie and from your local City or County Enterprise Board.
Info2Innovate contains information on financing, training, innovation infrastructure, networks and advisory services for SMEs operating in Ireland. This online directory is provided by Enterprise Europe Network and was developed with Dublin Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise Ireland.
Chambers Ireland and the Irish Banking Federation (IBF) have developed a website, smallbusinessfinance.ie, for small businesses looking for information about financing or funding their business. The information is aimed at a range of businesses including start-ups, established businesses seeking to expand or innovate, businesses entering export markets and businesses with financial difficulties.
Start-up companies: New companies may get tax relief on the first 3 years of corporation tax and the value of the relief will be linked to the amount of employers’ PRSI paid by a company in an accounting period subject to a maximum of €5,000 per employee. In the Finance Act 2012 this tax relief has been extended to companies that commence trading in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Action Plan for Jobs
The Action Plan for Jobs 2012 includes a range of supports for self-employed people including:
- A microfinance scheme, Microfinance Ireland - see above
- The Temporary Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme where the Government will partially guarantee loans by traditional lenders to viable businesses that are at the margins of commercial lending decisions and have difficulties accessing credit
- New Frontiers, a development programme for potential entrepreneurs, funded and coordinated by Enterprise Ireland, to be delivered locally by 13 Institutes of Technology
- National micro enterprise support model to be established by dissolving the County and City Enterprise Boards and creating a new Micro and Small Business Division in Enterprise Ireland and a new network of Local Enterprise Offices in each local authority
The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has a leaflet outlining State funding supports under the Action Plan for Jobs: Financial support for Irish business (pdf).
Difficulties accessing credit
Many small businesses have difficulty getting credit. Your Business Your Bank (pdf) is a guide on getting funding for small and medium businesses. It includes information on how to prepare a bank credit application.
If you have a small or medium business and your application for credit is refused by one of the participating banks you may apply to the Credit Review Office to have your case reviewed.
The Credit Guarantee Scheme, which started on 24 October 2012, is part of the Action Plan on Jobs. It aims to encourage additional lending to small and medium businesses who are commercially viable but have difficulty in accessing credit. Under the Scheme eligible applicants will be assisted in obtaining a loan and in establishing a favourable credit history. You can find out more in the information booklet about the Scheme (pdf). There are also Customer Frequently Asked Questions (pdf) as well as details of eligibility criteria (pdf).
In February 2009 the Financial Regulator published a Code of Conduct for Business Lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (pdf). The Central Bank has published a revised Code of Conduct for Business Lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (pdf) which came into effect on 1 January 2012.
Help and advice on business debt
The Chartered Accountants Voluntary Advice service (CAVA) can give free advice and assistance on your business affairs such as bookkeeping, business debts, VAT or payroll issues. Contact your local Citizens Information Service or MABS office to see if they offer the service. You can also call (01) 6377218 or email email@example.com.