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Without doubt, starting a business is difficult. It’s hard work and risky. And even once a business is up and running, growing it – expanding it to meet its potential – is a major challenge.

Of course, Australian governments (Commonwealth, State, and sometimes local) recognise this. They also understand the value of encouraging and assisting small businesses – not surprising with small business responsible for over 40% of private sector employment.

As a result, hundreds of business grants and assistance programs are on offer. These include:

  • incentives for research and development,
  • support for small businesses,
  • tax and duty concessions,
  • assistance for industries in transition.

The programs span a wide range of industries covering every stage from startup, through running and growing, to selling or closing a business. Some are countrywide and some are State or Territory, or even region, specific.

And that’s where the problems begin. With so many programs, administered by so many different organisations, each with their own rules, where should you even start to look? Because of this, a number of businesses have emerged offering to help small businesses to find the right program for them, and to apply for it… for a fee of course.

Now we have no problem with businesses charging a fee to provide a valid service, but some of these businesses apply high pressure sales tactics, including emphasis on urgent deadlines that often don’t exist.

And none of them mention that there is a Commonwealth government website designed to help businesses find grants and assistance easily… and free of charge… covering State/Territory/regional as well as Commonwealth programs.

Before you talk to fee charging companies, have a look at the government’s Grant-Finder: business.gov.au/grants-and-assistance/grant-finder.
You can search by industry or type of assistance sought, and/or by region. The results provide a summary of each grant that matches your search, lists the application closing date if there is one, and links to detail about eligibility rules, and to the administrator of the program so you can learn more and make an application.

If you decide to go ahead and use a private sector firm to help you find and apply for a grant, make sure you understand exactly what their fees are, and what services you expect to receive for the money.
 

Protect Yourself

A few things to remember when researching government grants and assistance…
– all official government websites have .gov.au at the end (so if you see a .com or a .org it’s not a government site)
– none of the programs charge a fee to apply for a grant
– all decisions about grants are based on merit – you can’t pay for special access.

 

What are your thoughts?

Have you received a business grant? Is it something you think you should be looking into for your business? Join the conversation — leave a comment below and let us know what you’re thoughts are.