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Help for start-ups – The support available for your start up

If you run a start-up business as an entrepreneur, you may be able to get extra support if you’re a woman, over 50, disabled, from a minority ethnic group, young or on a low income.


4 min read

1. Help for start-ups – Overview

If you run a start-up business as an entrepreneur, there is a variety of help for start-ups available, and there may be extra support you can access if you come under certain categories.

Much of this help takes the form of mentoring and networking - but you should also be able to access targeted advice, support and even apply for loans and grants.

This guide will help explain about the sources of funding that might be available to you and where to get help, advice and training.

2. Support for female entrepreneurs

There are lots of business organisations aimed specifically at women - at both local and national levels.

These include:

You can find out more about starting a business as a female entrepreneur in our guide on Women in Business.

3. Support for young and mature entrepreneurs

There are a number of schemes that can help that offer advice and support if you are a young entrepreneur. You can also get specialist support as an entrepreneur if you're over 50.

Youth Business Scotland

Youth Business Scotland may be able to help with funding, support and advice. Youth Business Scotland offers financial help to young people living in Scotland aged 18 to 30 (those aged 26 to 30 must be unemployed or working less than 16 hours per week).

The Youth Business Scotland programme offers:

  • loans of up to £5,000 and grants of up to £1,000
  • a free business mentor for the first 2 years of your business
  • advice on your business plan
  • access to training
  • information on events and exhibitions
  • information on how to increase your business profile

Shell LiveWIRE

The Shell LiveWIRE website offers discussion forums where young entrepreneurs can share their experiences, and offer solutions to business problems.

Shell LiveWIRE is aimed specifically at young entrepreneurs aged between 16 and 30. It gives you access to a pool of experts with specialised knowledge.

Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Awards offer up to five £1,000 prizes a month to the most innovative and unusual ideas. The ideas must be submitted by young entrepreneurs aged 16-30 with new businesses in their first 12 months of trading.

Young Enterprise Scotland

Young Enterprise Scotland has several programmes aimed at giving young people an understanding of how business works through running their own businesses.

4. Support for entrepreneurs on low incomes

If you receive benefits and want to set up a new business, it's worth discussing your business plans with a Jobcentre Plus adviser. They will be able to tell you how starting a business will affect your benefits and point you in the direction of practical support.

You may be able to get the New Enterprise Allowance if you're on certain benefits and have a viable business idea.

You could get:

  • a loan to help with start up costs
  • a weekly allowance up to £1,274 paid over 26 weeks

You could also get:

  • a mentor to help you develop your business idea and write a business plan
  • ongoing support from a mentor in the early months of trading

You may be entitled to Working Tax Credits. These are payments to top up the earnings of working people on low incomes, including the self-employed.

5. Support for black, Asian and minority ethnic start ups

There are several established business support networks specifically for black, Asian and minority ethnic businesses. This support includes:

6. Support for disabled people

Jobcentre Plus provides help and assistance with training and finding work, such as self-employment. Their advisers can help you with support specifically for disabled people.

The Disabled Entrepreneurs Network (DEN) provides information and networking opportunities for self-employed disabled people.

Disability charity Leonard Cheshire and easyGroup chairman Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou run an annual award of £50,000 for exceptional disabled entrepreneurs - the Stelios Disabled Entrepreneurs Award.

If you have a disability and usually work 16 hours or more a week, you may also be able to get extra tax credits. The disability must be one that makes it hard for you to get a job and you must be receiving, or have recently received, a qualifying sickness or disability-related benefit.

The Shaw Trust is a national charity that provides training and work opportunities for people who are disadvantaged in the labour market due to disability, ill health or other social circumstances.

The Association of Disabled Professionals (ADP) offers guidance on setting up a business for disabled people. It also offers advice on issues relating to benefits, networking opportunities and schemes such as Access to Work.

Business Gateway offers events covering all aspects of starting up a business. Search for start-up events in your area.

Get the support you need right now

You can connect with us through the contact form, call us or contact your local Business Gateway office.

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