Innovation and enterprise blog

05 June 2014

What’s new on… COBRA for business start-ups

Cobweb information for business logoOne of the resources we provide here at the British Library Business & IP Centre is free access to a number of business and intellectual property databases; helping entrepreneurs and businesses to research trends, markets and companies, and to utilise and protect their IP. If you’ve ever wondered what the market trends are in a particular industry, how to write a business plan, or where to search for trademark registrations, then you can use our databases to find out. The databases are regularly updated and in a monthly blog series, we take a look at what’s new.

This month, we look at the COBRA database (or, to give it its full name, the ‘Complete Business Reference Advisor’), which is probably one of our best-used resources. COBRA is essentially an online encyclopaedia of practical information for starting, running and managing a small business and includes over 4,000 fact sheets and local area profiles. It’s often the first stop for entrepreneurs looking at setting up their business, as it provides lots of helpful hints for start-ups and is very easy to search. COBRA is accessible from the Business & IP Centre reading room, and best of all you can also download up to 10 reports from the database per day.

One of the things that makes COBRA particularly useful is that it provides a very comprehensive amount of information, covering a wide variety of industries - from the global to the niche. For instance, in this month’s updates, we have profiles on business areas ranging from Hotels, to Health and Safety Regulations, to House Sitters (not to mention Goth Clothing Shops, which we like to think is in honour of National Goth Day last week...)

Our update starts with a look at the latest Business Opportunity Profiles (BOPs), which summarise the opportunities and requirements for a particular industry or business area. The profiles outline the qualifications and skills needed, key market issues and trends, main trading issues and relevant legislation, and a guide to sources of further information.

This month a number of profiles have been updated, including:
•    Children’s Indoor Play Area
•    Dating Agency
•    Florist

•    Furniture Maker
•    Handmade Toy Maker
•    Hotel
•    Party Plan Sales Agent
•    Residential Letting Agent
•    Sandwich Shop
•    T Shirt printer
•    Taxi and Private Hire Service

Imagery overlooking Big Ben from Westminster Bridge , Photo Credit:

Next up are Mini Business Opportunity Profiles. These provide a general introduction to a business area, an outline of trading issues, and a guide to sources of further information. The ‘Mini BOPS’ often cover more niche areas, and this month the following profiles have been updated:
•    Data Management Firm
•    Dinner in the Dark Organiser
•    Female Taxi Service
•    Goth Clothing Shop

A person expressing their gothic style in makeup and fashion

•    House Sitter
•    Indian Fashion Retailer
•    Party Supplies Shop
•    Specialist Model Shop

Finally, on to the Business Information Factsheets (BIFs). These are guides and summaries which provide information on specific areas of general business - for instance marketing, legals, or funding. They’re a great resource for start-ups who need to investigate the practicalities of running a business. 

The most recently updated factsheets are:
•    Advertising Hotels, Guest Houses, or Bed and Breakfast Accommodation Online - A Guide to
•    Business Grant - A Guide to Applying for a
•    Business Rate Relief - A Guide to
•    Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) - An Introduction to
•    Debt - A Guide to Recovering an Unpaid
•    Finance for Starting a Business - A Summary of Sources of
•    Health and Safety Regulations for IT Equipment - A Guide to
•    Making a Small Claim to Recover an Unpaid Debt - An Introduction to
•    Registering with HMRC as a New Employer - A Guide to
•    Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 - A Guide to the

If you’d like to view any of the reports on COBRA, or use the other resources in the Business & IP Centre, you’ll need a British Library reader card.

Sally Jennings on behalf of Business & IP Centre


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