Financing. It’s one of the biggest concerns plaguing small businesses around the world. The search for that much-needed dough to kick-start a business plan into fruition can prove to be a difficult and stressful task, with many business owners making detrimental choices out of desperation.
A NSW Business Chamber report cited findings from Deloitte Access Economics, which estimates that about around 200,000 of Australia’s SMEs have problems accessing finance. That equates to around 10 per cent of the country’s small businesses. The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed similarly troubling stats, finding that around 400,000 businesses point to the difficulty obtaining finance as a key barrier to innovation.
One quick Google search will give you countless results for companies offering quick grants. Some companies are less than reputable and the fact that many offers seem too good to be true usually highlights the need to look away.
It’s no secret: a number of organisations out there are looking to scam small business owners desperate to get their dreams off the ground. Be aware of suspect websites, strange calls offering grants, and companies offering information on grants for a fee – when the same information can usually be found for free.
The Australian Government has a business body that can provide plenty of information on grants and programmes, and it surprises me to constantly find small business owners unaware of this.
Business.gov.au, the .gov.au being a sign that it is officially connected to the Australian Government (contrary to the many scam websites insinuating the same, without a .gov.au attachment), provides details on everything from registration and licenses, to advice on business planning, and skills and training.
There are a number of funds and partnerships available for businesses of different sizes and in different areas, but one that I think is worth looking into is Business Growth Grants.
Offered for those who have taken part in the Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme, which features strands on Business Evaluation, Supply Chain Facilitation, Business Growth Service or an Enterprise Connect Business Review, Continuous Improvement Programme or Supplier Continuous Programme, Business Growth Grants can be used to hire consultants to work on business areas recommended by advisors or facilitators.
A Business Growth Grant project must show what the consultant will bring to the business, how the project as a whole will boost internal capability, and that the work involved is separate from the business’ “ordinary operations”. If you do receive the grant and go for a consultant, up to half the cost (up to $20,000) will be reimbursed.
According to the Government’s Business Growth Grants Customer Information Guide, You may be able to apply for a Business Growth Grant if you meet all of the following conditions:
- You remain eligible against the eligibility criteria for Business Management services;
- Your business has received one of the listed Service Reports in the last 6 months, with the exception of a Business Growth Plan which must have been received within two years;
- You plan to implement one or more eligible recommendations identified in the Service Report;
- Your business is solvent (this means your business can pay all its debts when they are due);
- You can pay the full cost of engaging one or more consultants before being reimbursed without using in-kind contributions or other government grants or programmes.
The Business Growth Grant is but one of many programmes on offer on the Government’s official business resource sites. Others include the Industry Skills Fund, the Emissions Reduction Fund, the Manufacturing Transition Programme and the Industry Skill Fund – Youth Stream.
Don’t jump the gun when looking for grants, funds and reimbursements. Be wary of scammers looking to profit off your need for financial assistance and ensure you visit Government-attached resources.