Starting a business

The Business & IP Centre offers a range of support to help you decide whether running your own business is right for you. Information is available from that first spark of an idea, through to all you need to know to get up and running and continue to grow into the future.
An annual programme of events, workshops and one to one sessions enable you to get tailored support from the experts while learning and sharing experiences with other local businesses.
Within the centre you will find an extensive collection of resources covering business start-up, marketing, intellectual property, employment law and health and safety. Many of these resources are available to loan. In addition a collection of e-books is also available to borrow for a range of devices through Leeds Library services 



Cobra - The Complete Business Reference Adviser

Cobra is an essential database for anyone taking those first few steps into start-up. Containing thousands of guides focusing on key areas of information required by business, start-ups and small businesses.

Business Opportunity Profiles: detailed start-up guides for 600+ business ideas
Business Information Factsheets: point-by-point guides vital to all new and growing businesses
UK Market Synopses: succinct market research guides covering key business sectors
Local Area Profiles: guides to business information and support by location.
Sources of Business Information: directory of organisations relevant to setting up a small business
Events and Exhibitions: a database of national events and exhibitions by industry and location

Library members can access Cobra from home

Market Research
Researching your potential market is a crucial part of the start-up process, it enables you to ascertain how much of a demand there is for your chosen business type, who the consumers are, what the competition is like and indicates future trends.
Find out more about the types of market research available and how it can support you on the Market Research page
Company Information
Company information will enable a company to grow and prosper by:
  • increasing it's knowledge of competitors
  • providing financial intelligence on potential partners
  • pin-pointing suppliers of specialist products and services.

The Business and IP Centre can help you with this research, we can provide in-depth financial information for most medium to large companies, details of directors, family trees and basic credit checks. Bespoke mailing list service also available, see our mailing list page for further details.

Events, Workshops and Advice sessions
Through the centre you can access a programme of events, workshops and advice sessions especially tailored for business start-ups. We are also happy to chat to you on the phone to discuss your information needs and point you in the right direction. Check out the advice and workshops page for further details.
Finance and Funding
Cobra provides and overview of the different types of financial support available in BIF 040 Sources of Finance for Starting a Business
Start-up loans are available to pre-start ups or those that have been trading for up to 12 months. The scheme includes support with business planning prior to receiving the loan to ensure applicants are in the best position to receive funding. the scheme also includes access to an expert mentor, free training courses and business offers.
A network of delivery partners is available to work with partners to increase their chance of successfully receiving a loan.
The following organisations are partners in the Yorkshire area:
Business Support and Development -
Business Enterprise Fund -
Leeds City Credit Union -
National Enterprise Network (virgin start-up) -
Full details of the scheme can be found on the START-UP LOANS website
The Business Enterprise Fund
The BEF is a social enterprise who focus on lending money to businesses who may find it difficult to borrow from banks.
Areas of support include:

Start-up loans
Loans for business
Short term funding
Business Support
Leeds City Region
The Leeds City Region's website provides access to a business support search tool searchable by location, finance and loans.
Support for Social Enterprises
The Yorkshire Venture Philanthropy Programme
This programme has been designed to stimulate and support the growth of social enterprise in the Region and promote a strong local community.
The programme consists of financial and practical support for social enterprises including:
  • a database of useful contacts
  • advice and templates to help you develop your business ideas
  • small grants up to £5,000 to support the development of enterprising ideas and plans.
  • a combined grant/loan scheme for investments up to £100,000 to support well developed business plans
  • funding to cover specialist advisory costs in areas such as business planning, marketing, leadership, HR and governance
  • pro bono support from the private sector

More information regarding this scheme is available from

Individuals on benefits

The New Enterprise Allowance scheme can provide money and support to help you start your own business if you're receiving certain benefits.

To be eligible you must be aged 18 or over, have a business idea and be in receipt of one of the following:

Jobseeker's Allowance

Income Support as a loan parent

Employment and Support Allowance, if you're in the work-related activity group


  • A weekly allowance paid for up to 26 weeks
  • Access to a loan to help with start-up costs
  • 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

Contact Jobcentre Plus to apply or find out more. Further information about the scheme can be found at​