Sources of information on starting a business


If you are becoming self-employed and starting a business you can get advice and information from a range of organisations. This document is about these sources of information. You can find out more in our documents on starting a business, becoming self-employed and coming to set up a business in Ireland.

General information on setting up a business

General information is available on which brings together information on procedures and services for those intending to establish a business.

The Supporting SMEs Online Tool is a guide for start-ups and small businesses. It includes information on over 80 business supports available from a range of government departments and agencies. 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.

The Enterprise Europe Network has published Info2innovate, an online directory of innovation supports and services for small and medium enterprises.

Government agencies and departments

Local Enterprise Offices

Local Enterprise Offices provide supports to local businesses that are starting up or in development. Their role is to stimulate economic activity at local level and to promote microenterprises (10 or fewer employees). LEOs can support sole traders, firms and community groups. The projects must be commercially viable or have the capacity to become commercially viable. You can find information about training programmes and start your own business courses as well as mentoring and financial supports on

Companies Registration Office

The Companies Registration Office (CRO) functions include incorporation of companies, the registration of business names, the enforcement of the Companies Acts in relation to the filing obligations of companies and making information available to the public.

Its website has information about the Companies Act 2014. The Registrar of Friendly Societies deals with the registration of industrial and provident societies, trade unions and friendly societies.

Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation

The Companies Act 2014 replaced the Companies Acts 1963-2013 on 1 June 2015. You can find more information on the Companies Act 2014 on

Department of Social Protection

The Department of Social Protection is responsible for social insurance (PRSI). You can find information on self-employed contributions on The Department's case officers in Intreo centres or Social Welfare Branch Offices can help you if you are getting a jobseeker's payment and wish to set up your own business.

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland 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.

IDA (Ireland)

The IDA (Industrial Development Agency) Ireland is responsible 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.

Local development companies

Local development companies were established to tackle unemployment in particular areas of the country. Enterprise Officers from local development companies can offer advice and information on starting your own business.

Workplace Relations Commission

The Information and Customer Service of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) provides information on industrial relations and rights and obligations under employment and equality legislation. You can find information on employment legislation for employers (pdf) and a guide for employers who are starting a new business with paid employees.

The WRC Inspection Service monitors employment conditions through its inspectors. It can also enforce compliance and seek redress for breaches of employment rights.


Revenue provides extensive information about your tax obligations. In particular A Guide to Self-Assessment and Running a business answer many of the basic questions people ask about tax when becoming self-employed and setting up a business. Revenue also has information about initiatives available for start-up businesses.

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 initiative helps small businesses comply with their health and safety obligations and provides online tools to help you to generate risk assessments and safety statements.

Representative bodies and specific sectors

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. It offers support and advice to employers.

ISME (The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association) is the independent organisation for the small and medium business sector.

SFA (Small Firms Association) represents the needs of small enterprises (that is, those employing less than 50 employees).

Back for Business is a development programme which supports returning emigrants to start and develop business in Ireland. The programme is open to returned emigrants who have lived abroad for at least a year and have returned to Ireland in the last three years, or for emigrants currently living abroad who are planning to return to Ireland in the near future.

Specific economic areas

The following organisations may be able to help you if you want 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

Finance and credit

Microfinance Ireland provides loans to small businesses with no more than 10 employees, including sole traders and start-ups.

Chambers Ireland and the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland have developed a website,, for small businesses looking for information about financing or funding their business.

Difficulties accessing credit

The Central Bank has published a revised Code of Conduct for Business Lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (pdf).

If you have a small or medium business and your application for credit is refused by one of the participating banks you can apply to the Credit Review Office to have your case reviewed.

The Credit Guarantee Scheme encourages additional lending to small and medium businesses who are commercially viable but have difficulty accessing credit. Under the Scheme eligible applicants will be helped to get a loan and and establish favourable credit history. You can find out more in the information booklet about the Scheme. There are also Customer Frequently Asked Questions (pdf) and eligibility criteria.

Help and advice if you are having difficulties

If your business is having difficulties, you can apply to the Small Business Advice Programme for free advice.

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

Page edited: 29 April 2019