Starting a business can be a daunting task, but in Ireland, there is a wealth of resources available to help budding entrepreneurs succeed. One of the most important of these resources is the network of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) that operate across the country.
There are 31 LEOs in Ireland, each one providing a range of supports and services to help small businesses get off the ground and grow. Whether you’re a first-time entrepreneur or an experienced business owner, the LEO network has something to offer.
One of the most important services that LEOs provide is funding. Through a range of grants and loans, LEOs can help businesses access the capital they need to get started or to expand. This funding can be used for a wide range of purposes, from buying equipment to hiring staff to marketing and advertising.
In addition to funding, LEOs also offer a range of training and mentoring services. These can include everything from business planning workshops to one-on-one coaching sessions with experienced business advisors. LEOs can also provide access to market research and other resources to help businesses better understand their customers and competitors.
Another key service provided by LEOs is networking. By bringing together business owners and entrepreneurs from across the local area, LEOs create a supportive community where people can share ideas, learn from one another, and find new business opportunities. This can be especially valuable for small businesses that may not have the resources to attend expensive industry conferences or trade shows.
To access the supports and services provided by LEOs, businesses can get in touch with their local office directly or visit the LEO website. The process is straightforward, and LEO staff are always happy to help guide businesses through the various options available.
The importance of LEOs cannot be overstated. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the Irish economy, and without the supports provided by LEOs, many of these businesses may struggle to get off the ground or to survive in the face of competition from larger companies. By providing funding, training, mentoring, and networking opportunities, LEOs are helping to build a stronger, more resilient small business sector in Ireland.
The purpose of the Local enterprise offices
The purpose of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) is to provide a range of supports and services to help entrepreneurs and small business owners succeed. LEOs aim to foster an environment in which small businesses can start, grow, and create jobs. Specifically, LEOs provide funding, training, mentoring, and networking services to help small businesses access the capital they need to get started or to expand, to develop their skills and knowledge, to get guidance and support from experienced business advisors, and to connect with other business owners and entrepreneurs in their local area. The ultimate goal of LEOs is to build a stronger, more resilient small business sector in Ireland and to contribute to the overall economic growth of the country.
Supports available from a Local Enterprise office
Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in Ireland provide a wide range of supports and services to help entrepreneurs and small business owners start and grow their businesses. Here are some of the most common supports available from a Local Enterprise Office:
- Funding: LEOs offer a range of financial supports, such as grants and loans, to help businesses access the capital they need to get started or to expand.
- Training: LEOs provide a variety of training programs and workshops to help business owners develop their skills and knowledge in areas such as marketing, finance, sales, and business planning.
- Mentoring: LEOs offer one-on-one mentoring sessions with experienced business advisors who can provide guidance and support on a range of business topics.
- Market research: LEOs can help businesses access market research and other resources to better understand their customers and competitors.
- Networking: LEOs provide opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs to connect and network with one another, which can lead to new business opportunities and collaborations.
- Export supports: LEOs provide assistance to businesses that want to start exporting their products or services, including advice on international markets and help with export-related paperwork.
- Innovation supports: LEOs can help businesses develop and implement innovative ideas and technologies, including through grants and other financial supports.
These are just a few examples of the many supports available from Local Enterprise Offices. Each LEO provides a different range of services, so it’s important to contact your local office to find out exactly what supports are available in your area.
What are the main funding tools provided by the local enterprise office
Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in Ireland offer a range of funding tools to help entrepreneurs and small businesses access the capital they need to start or grow their businesses. Here are some of the main funding tools provided by LEOs:
- Business Priming Grants: These grants are designed to help start-up businesses that have not yet traded to cover the costs of essential start-up expenses, such as equipment, stock, and marketing.
- Business Expansion Grants: These grants are designed to help established businesses that are looking to expand, develop new products or services, or enter new markets.
- Feasibility Study Grants: These grants are designed to help businesses carry out feasibility studies for new product or service ideas, market research, and other related activities.
- Technical Assistance Grants: These grants are designed to help businesses cover the costs of hiring external expertise to help them develop and implement new technologies or improve their business processes.
- Lean for Micro Grants: These grants are designed to help micro-enterprises (companies with fewer than 10 employees) to implement lean business practices and improve their efficiency.
- Export Assistance Grants: These grants are designed to help businesses cover the costs of attending trade shows and missions, developing marketing materials for international markets, and other export-related activities.
- Online Retail Scheme: This scheme helps businesses to develop their online presence, including website design and development, online advertising, and social media marketing.
Each Local Enterprise Office has its own funding tools and criteria, so it’s important to check with your local office to see which funding tools you may be eligible for and how to apply.
What is Business advice and Mentoring
Business advice and mentoring is a service provided by Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in Ireland to help entrepreneurs and small business owners start and grow their businesses. This service involves one-on-one meetings between business owners and experienced business advisors, who can provide guidance and support on a range of business topics.
The purpose of business advice and mentoring is to help business owners make better-informed decisions and avoid common pitfalls, by tapping into the experience and knowledge of experienced business professionals. Mentors may offer advice on topics such as business planning, marketing and sales, financial management, legal and regulatory compliance, and human resources.
During a mentoring session, the business owner can discuss their business goals and challenges, and the mentor can provide feedback, insights, and recommendations to help the business owner make more informed decisions. Mentors can also help business owners to identify new opportunities and to develop strategies to overcome any barriers to growth.
Business advice and mentoring can be particularly valuable for new business owners, who may not have prior experience running a business, but it can also be helpful for established businesses looking to expand or pivot their business model. This service is typically provided at no or low cost to the business owner, making it an accessible resource for businesses of all sizes and stages of growth.
What networking services doe Local Enterprise offices offer
Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in Ireland provide a range of networking services to help entrepreneurs and small business owners connect with each other and build valuable relationships. Here are some examples of the networking services offered by LEOs:
- Business events: LEOs organise and host a variety of business events, such as seminars, workshops, and networking breakfasts, which provide opportunities for business owners to meet and connect with other entrepreneurs in their local area.
- Business networks: LEOs support and facilitate the formation of business networks, which bring together business owners and professionals from different industries to share knowledge and ideas, and to collaborate on projects and initiatives.
- Business directories: LEOs maintain directories of local businesses, which can be a valuable resource for business owners looking to connect with other businesses in their area.
- Online platforms: LEOs maintain online platforms, such as social media groups and business directories, which provide a space for business owners to connect with each other and to share information and resources.
- Trade missions: LEOs organise trade missions, which provide opportunities for businesses to connect with potential customers and partners in other countries and to explore new markets.
- Export networks: LEOs support and facilitate the formation of export networks, which bring together businesses that are exporting or looking to export their products or services, and provide opportunities for these businesses to share knowledge and experience.
Networking is an essential part of building a successful business, and the networking services provided by LEOs can be a valuable resource for entrepreneurs and small business owners looking to connect with other business owners, share knowledge and ideas, and find new business opportunities.
What is Local Enterprise week?
Local Enterprise Week is an annual event that takes place across Ireland, during which Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) organise a series of events and workshops designed to support entrepreneurs and small business owners.
The event is typically held in March and provides an opportunity for businesses to access a wide range of supports and services from LEOs, as well as to connect with other entrepreneurs and professionals in their local area.
Local Enterprise Week includes a diverse range of events, such as workshops on digital marketing, business planning, and finance, networking events, seminars on specific industries and sectors, and talks from successful entrepreneurs and business leaders.
The aim of Local Enterprise Week is to provide entrepreneurs and small business owners with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed, as well as to promote the importance of small businesses to the Irish economy.
During Local Enterprise Week, LEOs also typically showcase the success stories of local businesses that have received support from the LEO network. This can be a valuable source of inspiration and motivation for other entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Overall, Local Enterprise Week is an important event in the Irish business calendar, providing a range of valuable resources and supports to help entrepreneurs and small business owners start and grow successful businesses.
What is the relationship between Local Enterprise office and Enterprise Ireland
The relationship between Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and Enterprise Ireland (EI) is one of cooperation and collaboration, with both organisations working together to support the development and growth of the Irish economy.
Enterprise Ireland is a government agency responsible for supporting the growth of Irish businesses in international markets. It works with companies in a wide range of sectors to help them scale their businesses and expand into new markets.
Local Enterprise Offices, on the other hand, are focused on supporting the development and growth of small businesses and startups within their local communities. They provide a range of supports and services, such as mentoring, training, and funding, to help entrepreneurs and small business owners get their businesses off the ground and succeed.
While Enterprise Ireland’s focus is on supporting larger businesses with global ambitions, it also collaborates with LEOs to support the development of smaller businesses. For example, LEOs may refer businesses to Enterprise Ireland for further support with scaling and international expansion.
LEOs and Enterprise Ireland also work together on initiatives and programmes aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in Ireland. For example, they jointly run the New Frontiers programme, which provides training, mentoring, and funding to early-stage startups.
Overall, the relationship between LEOs and Enterprise Ireland is one of mutual support and collaboration, with both organisations playing a vital role in supporting the development and growth of the Irish economy.
How can I find out more information about my Local Enterprise Office
If you would like to find out more information about your Local Enterprise Office (LEO), there are a few ways to do so:
- Visit the LEO website: Each LEO has its own website, which provides information on the services and supports available in your local area. You can find a list of LEO websites on the Enterprise Ireland website.
- Contact your LEO directly: You can contact your local LEO directly by phone or email to find out more information about the services and supports available, and to speak to an advisor about your specific needs.
- Attend a Local Enterprise Week event: Local Enterprise Week, which takes place annually in March, is a great opportunity to learn more about your LEO and the services and supports available. You can find a schedule of events on your LEO’s website or by contacting them directly.
- Check the LEO directory: The LEO directory, available on the Enterprise Ireland website, provides contact information for each LEO and can help you locate the office nearest to you.
- Speak to other entrepreneurs in your community: You may be able to find out more information about your LEO and the services and supports available by speaking to other business owners and entrepreneurs in your local community who have received support from the LEO network.
By taking advantage of these resources, you can learn more about your LEO and the range of services and supports available to help you start and grow your business.