Cobra targets charities

Use COBRA with your Westminster Libraries membership cardThis is not about the danger of snakes in Oxfam shops. A shame really – it would make a good story.

CoBRA is the Complete Business Reference Adviser, and it’s a little gem, slightly forbidding when you first see it, but highly attractive when you look closer (a bit like the snake). It guides you gently but authoritatively through the complexities of setting up a small business. What do you need to start? Are you suitable? Is yours a good area? Are you likely to make a living?

If you decide to take the plunge, Cobra will help with financial requirements, legal pitfalls and market research. It’s very thorough, and very wide-ranging. But I was a bit surprised to discover that it also covers charities. Time for honesty – I didn’t discover it, my colleague Nicky did. What she uncovered was a string of items on setting up a charity, charity shops, not-for-profit enterprises, sports clubs, and many more.

Of course, much of Cobra’s advice on subjects like business rates and licensing is as useful to a charity as it is to a small business. Down the list, I noticed “getting your press release published”, which is an obvious requirement for most charities.

Also on the list was “babyproofing service”. My mind boggled. What do you proof the babies against? A water- or fire-resistant baby would obviously be useful, but it turns out that this is a service to assess, and act upon, the risks to babies and toddlers, in terms of safety devices like stair gates and soft edges. Of course, this needn’t be, and often isn’t, a charitable concern – handyman businesses offer this service. But it might be voluntary, and that’s the point.

Well done, Cobra, and thanks to Nicky, my informant. Cobra is an Exclusive Resource for Westminster Libraries members. You will need your library card to log in at home.



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