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Start-up Support

Our experts are here to help you survive the ups and downs of start-up life and to increase your understanding of key business areas.

Here is a selection of our factsheet resources:

To find more information on everything you need to start-up and grow, visit our Information and advice page:

Writing a business plan

Writing a business plan - factsheet

Your business plan helps you think through your options, identifying the best opportunities and how to make the most of them.

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Finance for non-financial managers - Factsheet

Finance for non-financial managers - factsheet

Whatever your area of expertise, understanding the basics of financial management will allow you to play a full role in shaping your company's strategy.

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Finance for non-financial managers - Factsheet

Get help setting up and running your business

Making sure you have the right skills, finance and practical support reduces the financial stress and the pressure of having to make all the decisions yourself.

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Raising finance with Business Angels

Market your new business - factsheet

Marketing helps you understand your business environment, identify the most promising opportunities and decide how to exploit them.

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Raising finance with Business Angels

Raising finance with Business Angels

Raising finance can be notoriously difficult. Read how wealthy, entrepreneurial individuals known as Business Angels can provide capital for your company in return for shares.

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Do's and don'ts of e-commerce - Factsheet

The internet enables you to sell 24/7 to customers anywhere in the world. Having an online shop can attract new customers and enable you to provide a broader service to existing ones.

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Effective PR - a good image is a valuable asset

Effective PR - a good image is a valuable asset

Find out how Public Relations (PR) can help you create good publicity which is vital for building your reputation with valuable customers and others whose opinion matters to you.

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See more of IoD resources and factsheets

See more of IoD resources and factsheets

Need advice on writing a business plan, a statement for tender or using social media to market your business? Help on these subjects (and so many more) is available here, in our online resources.

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Government support


  • British Business Bank– a government-owned business development bank dedicated to making finance markets work better for smaller businesses. BBB provides support to companies at all stages: those looking to start up, scale up and stay ahead. It doesn’t lend or invest directly. Instead it works with over 100 partners such as banks, leasing companies, venture capital funds and web-based platforms through which funding can be applied for by companies directly.
        • ‘Help to Grow’ loans programme – part of the British Business Bank, launched to address the financing needs of smaller businesses which are struggling to raise sufficient senior debt to fund their growth opportunities.
        • Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) – part of the British Business Bank, it facilitates business finance to smaller businesses that are viable but unable to obtain finance from their lender due to having insufficient security to meet the lender’s normal requirements.
        • Enterprise Capital Funds (ECFs) – a programme run by the British Business Bank, which combines private and public money to make equity investments in high growth businesses.

  • Enterprise Investment Scheme(EIS) – a series of tax reliefs designed to encourage investments in small unquoted companies. Under EIS, a company can raise up to £5 million each year, and a maximum of £12 million in the firm’s lifetime.

  • Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) – this government-backed scheme offers tax efficient benefits to investors in return for investment in small and early stage startup businesses in the UK. Investors can claim relief on up to £100,000 invested through the scheme per annum and can receive reliefs covering 78% of their investment.

  • Social Investment Tax Relief(SITR) – this scheme is one of four venture capital schemes and is designed to help raise money to support the trading activity of social enterprises or charities. Organisations that are eligible to apply include community interest companies, community benefit societies with an asset lock and charities, which can be companies or trusts.

  • Venture Capital Trust(VCT) – it is a tax efficient closed-end collective investment scheme designed to provide private equity capital for small expanding companies and income and/or capital gains for investors. Companies that may qualify for investment from VCTs must have no more than £15 million in gross assets and fewer than 250 employees.

  • Research and Development (R&D)Tax Reliefs – the reliefs support companies that work on innovative projects in science and technology. It can be claimed by a range of companies that seek to research or develop an advance in their field. There are different types of R&D relief depending on the size of your company and whether the project has been subcontracted to you or not.

  • Entrepreneurs’ Relief – entrepreneurs that sell or give away their business can claim entrepreneurs’ relief. It is available for up to £10,000,000 lifetime gains and entrepreneurs gain tax relief at a reduced rate of 10%. Entrepreneurs’ relief is available to sole traders or partners selling or giving away whole or a certain part of their business. It is also available to company directors and employees having 5% or more shareholding.

  • Start-Up Loans – a government-backed personal loan available to individuals looking to start or grow a business in the UK. All owners or partners in a business can individually apply for up to £25,000 each, with a maximum of £100,000 available per business.

  • Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund(NPIF) – NPIF is a collaboration between the British Business Bank and ten Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in the North West, Yorkshire, the Humber and Tees Valley. It is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and provides commercially focussed finance through microfinance, debt and equity finance funds.

  • Midland Engine Investment Fund(MEIF) – provides over £250 million of investment to boost SME growth in the midlands, with access to small business loans, equity and debt finance. It is open for businesses based in the Midlands that are looking to scale up.

Regional Business and Financial Support

  • List of approx. 200 available regional grants/support


  • Contracts Finder– the portal lets companies search for information about contracts worth over £10,000 with the government and its agencies. You can use Contracts Finder to search for contract opportunities in different sectors, find out what’s coming up in the future and look up details of previous tenders and contracts.

  • Public Contracts Scotland– this portal gives free access to contract opportunities in Scotland, including with Scottish Local Authorities, NHS Scotland, the Scottish Government, Agencies and NDPBs, Higher and Further Education and Emergency Services. It also allows you to advertise your contract opportunities.

  • Sell2Wales – this portal allows you to search for contract opportunities in Wales.

  • eSourcing NI– this electronic tendering site allows supplying organisations to take part in tender opportunities led by Northern Ireland Public Sector and Regulated Contracting Authorities.

  • eTendersNI– this portal advertises opportunities for providing goods, services and works to Northern Ireland government departments, agencies and arms-length bodies.


  • Primary Authority – a scheme which provides businesses with tailored advice on meeting environmental health, trading standards or fire safety regulations.

  • Business Companion - free, impartial legal guidance for businesses that sell goods and/or supply services to consumers.

International Trade

  • UK Export Finance – the UK’s export credit agency and a government department, working alongside the Department for International Trade. It works with 70 private credit insurers and lenders to help UK companies access export finance (the particular class of loans, insurance policies or bank guarantees that enable international trade to take place as easily and securely as possible).

  • E-Exporting Programme – DIT’s programme to help UK retailers and brands export their products overseas via e-commerce.

  • Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) – the programme provides funding in the form of grants for eligible businesses to attend overseas trade shows. The funding helps businesses gain market knowledge, experience in attending overseas trade shows and advice and support from trade experts.

  • DIT guidance for exporters – provides support and guidance for businesses that are new exporters, export occasionally and export regularly. Its services cover:
      • Creating a business profile to get promoted internationally with a business profile
      • Sell online overseas to find the right marketplace for businesses
      • Find export opportunities
      • Get finance to compete and growth
      • Find events and visits that can support trade deals

  • Open to Export - a free online information service from The Institute of Export & International Trade, dedicated to helping small UK businesses get ready to export and expand internationally.

  • DIT find a supplier service – it allows international buyers to connect with UK businesses. UK buyers looking to be listed on this service can sign up on their website.

  • DIT worldwide offices – information and contact details of DIT worldwide offices, which can provide support for UK companies wishing to expand into overseas market.

Growth Hubs/Start up Services (Government and EU funded). One for each region:

Network of 38 Growth Hubs are local public/private sector partnerships led by the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). They join up national and local business support so it is easy for businesses to find the help they need.

Business Gateway is a publicly funded service contributing to the economic wellbeing of Scotland by providing access to free business support services.

Welsh business support


  • Small Business Commissioner– works to ensure fair payment practices for small businesses, and support them in resolving their payment disputes with larger businesses and bring about culture change.