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

If you run a start-up business as an entrepreneur, it's helpful to access networking organisations. Some cater specifically for the needs and interests of entrepreneurs who are women, young people, living with disabilities, different ethnic background, and those on low incomes.


4 min read

1. Overview

There is a variety of help for start-ups available, and there may be extra support you can access if you have certain protected characteristics.

Much of this help takes the form of mentoring and networking and some targeted advice and support and signposting to loans and grants.

2. Business networks in Scotland

Scotland has a number of business networks supporting all in the small business community.

  • Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). Offer members legal advice, financial expertise and networking support, and ensure the voice of small business owners is heard by policy makers.
  • Scottish Chambers of Commerce. A network of 30 Chambers of Commerce across Scotland's towns, regions and cities that support and connect companies, share best practice, foster new opportunities and provide practical support to help businesses trade locally, nationally and globally.

3. Support for female entrepreneurs

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

These include:

  • The Association of Scottish Businesswomen (ASB). Work with other networking groups, business support organisations, the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, and more to ensure members have access to the best advice available as well as delivering an annual conference and awards.
  • Women's Enterprise Scotland. A voice for women-owned businesses in Scotland and promotes policy and best practice which enables women to successfully start up and grow their own businesses. Also runs awards and networking events and a digital business centre to support women.
  • everywoman. Networking, events, awards and training for women with leadership potential.
  • Prowess 2.0. Online content providing resources, inspiration and information, stories and shared experiences.

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

4. Support for young people

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.

Prince's Trust

The Prince's Trust in Scotland may be able to help with funding, support and advice through its core programme to help 18-30 year olds start their own businesses.

Young Enterprise Scotland

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

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.

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.

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.

7. 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 help with moving from benefits to work if you're on certain benefits and have a viable business idea.

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.

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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