Support for start-ups

Do you want to run your own business and need help in getting started? For practical and free business support Think Sandwell is here for you.

Our team provides one-to-one business advice and help with all aspects of starting a new business, from planning and market research to marketing and more. We also advise on the types of financial support available for start-up businesses and how best to access it.

We can help you gain the confidence and skills you need to start your entrepreneurial journey and later on when your business is thriving we’ll be here to help you grow. Our service is free because we want businesses in Sandwell to thrive in order to create and sustain jobs and keep our local economy healthy.

Are you ready? To take your first step call us on 0121 569 2121 or email us using our contact form. We’re happy to help. Also see below for further new business support.

Business resources

COBRA (Complete Business Reference Adviser) is a comprehensive and continually updated online encyclopaedia and reference resource for business advisers and information professionals who provide advice and support to micro-business owners, small firms and new business start-ups. It’s now available for you to access for free from Sandwell libraries.

COBRA provides critical business facts, compliance and trading details covering hundreds of the most common (and many of the less common) small business trades, sectors and professions.

It includes:

  • Over 700 business start-up profiles and guides to business start-up ideas
  • Business information factsheets: ‘how to’ guides and practical small business checklists, from business plans to staffing, and tax to marketing
  • UK market synopses: guides to trends and opportunities in a number of UK market sectors, with market research
  • Local area profiles: guides to business support in 290 local areas in the UK.

To access COBRA just visit Sandwell Libraries’ online services and scroll to the ‘Reference Tools’ section at the foot of the page. Please note that you will need to be a member of Sandwell Libraries. This is free and you can sign up easily.

Speed Startup logoFormerly Enterprise Action, the SPEED project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. SPEED seeks to enable individuals to access support in starting a business or enterprise  in the Black Country and Marches regions, offering match-funding opportunities, development workshops and business consultancy. Learn more at

Financial support

Loans from £25k to £150k are being offered to young companies in the region, through the Midlands Engine BCRSlogoInvestment Fund. The £17m fund is being managed by Wolverhampton company BCRS Small Business Loans West Midlands. The loans are financially backed by the European Regional Development Fund and designed to help businesses that are unable to access finance from traditional lenders, such as banks. To be eligible, businesses must be based in the West Midlands, have been registered for less than a year and already be producing revenue, or have contracts in place to show that revenue is imminent. Learn more

Start Up Loans is a government-funded scheme to provide advice, loans and mentoring to new businesses. Start Up LoansRegister your interest online and work with a business adviser to get your application ready before you apply for finance.

Virgin Start Up Loans is a not-for-profit organisation that helps entrepreneurs in England get funding, resources Virginand advice. Its main focus is to help people to get the support they need to turn a great idea in to a successful and sustainable business. If you are over 18 and a British citizen or legal UK resident who wants to start or expand a new business that’s less than a year old in England then you may be eligible for a start-up loan. Find out more about the scheme.

Finding a property

If you’re looking for workspace or offices for your business in and around Sandwell, you can view our database of commercial property for lease or purchase here.


mentorsme_logo Mentorsme is a free site giving you access to a list of business mentoring organisations across Britain. It has an easy-to-use search engine which allows you to refine your search according to the life stage of your business and your location.

Social enterprises 

There are different definitions of what constitutes a social enterprise. Put simply, they are businesses with social values. They exist in order to tackle social problems, boost communities, or improve the environment.

Social enterprises trade goods and services in the open market, just as economic profit-driven businesses do. However, any surpluses or profits are reinvested into the business to further the social aims of the enterprise, rather than going to shareholders. So, as well as applying commercial strategies to maximise business success, social enterprises are committed to maximising the social impact of their activities. When they profit, society also profits.

There is no single legal structure to define a social enterprise. Social enterprises can be community enterprises, credit unions, trading arms of charities, employee-owned businesses, co-operatives, development trusts, housing associations, social firms or leisure trusts. The UK government has produced a useful guide to legal structures for social enterprises, which you can find here.

There are many organisations that offer funding and support to social enterprises. Some of these are listed below, divided into local and national organisations. If you have identified a social issue in your community, or have an idea for a social enterprise, then you can get in touch with these agencies for support.





Unltd is a UK charitable organisation working to promote social entrepreneurship within local communities. Unltd offers cash awards, networking and mentorship opportunities to support new social enterprises to grow.

Social Enterprise UK 


If your organisation is keen to engage with social enterprises when buying products and services, try the Buy Social Directory to search for businesses that trade for social and environmental purposes.

Page last reviewed in April 2019.