How to get a Small Business Grant in Australia

How to get a Small Business Grant in Australia
Photo: Kritchanut, Bigstock

Anyone who has started or run a small business before will know how easily costs can add up.

A lack of sufficient funds can potentially hold a small business back from reaching its full potential, or starting in the first place – but this doesn’t have to be the case.

Fortunately, there are numerous grants for small businesses available in Australia. It’s just a matter of knowing how to get one.

Grants for small businesses

In Australia, the Federal and State Governments, and in some cases local government, offer a range of grants and assistance to help with specific stages or activities in your business.

Eligible businesses may be able to access support in the form of:

  • Grants
  • Rebates
  • Subsidies
  • Incentive schemes
  • Research fellowships
  • Training and development
  • Advisory and mentoring services
  • Low interest loans.

While there are many different programs and options to choose from, it helps to identify specific parts of your business that require the most support.

For instance, some grants or assistance are specific to a business project or activity, such as research and development, marketing, purchasing equipment, commercialisation, trade, training and development, innovation, or importing and exporting.

You may wish to consider your short and long-term business goals and how a grant could best help you achieve them.

Finding small business grants

Once you’ve determined what support you need the most, you can start looking for the right grant, or form of assistance for you and your business.

Some grants are specific to particular types of industries or businesses, with key grant categories including:

  • Grants for businesses owned by, or hiring, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Artistic and heritage projects including businesses involved in preserving locations and activities of cultural significance and conservation projects.
  • Product research and development as well as commercialisation, to identify viable new products and how to take them to market.
  • Employment and training, including support for engaging an apprentice, a person with a disability or an older Australian (over the age of 50).
  • Businesses with an environmentally sustainable or green focus.

There are also some grants available that are specific to supporting start-ups or new businesses, including the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS).

Even if your business, or need, doesn’t fit in one of the above categories, there are many other grant opportunities that may be worth considering.

The Federal Government’s grant finding tool enables you to search for grants and assistance based on categories or keywords as well as look for advisers, support and training in your local area.

The Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) also has a search tool available to find industry-specific grants and funding programs.

Applying for a small business grant

The first step in applying for a grant is checking whether you are eligible for support.

Items to look for include the submission criteria, documentation requirements and deadline, and any restrictions on how and when funding should be spent and reported on.

It’s important to research the grant details thoroughly, so you don’t waste time and effort applying for something that you’re ineligible for, or doesn’t meet your needs.

Applying for grants can be time-consuming, and you may have to wait a long time to receive news on whether you have been successful or not.

There are some key factors you may wish to consider to give you the best chance in obtaining a grant. These can include:

  • Customising your grant application to answer each individual criteria. You could compare it to applying for a job, where it often helps to address every question or requirement with tailored responses, not generic content.
  • Double check the requirements. Before you submit your application you may wish to double-check you haven’t missed any criteria or key documents.
  • Give yourself ample time to prepare the submission. Rushing to get your submission in at the last minute may affect the quality of your application and the overall result.
  • Consider hiring a professional grant writer. There are many writers or writing services that specialise in grants and understand the ins and outs of the process, and how to craft a persuasive and effective submission.
  • Follow-up. If you’re not successful in your application, you may wish to contact the organisation managing the grant and ask for feedback, as well as any information on future grant opportunities.

As a final tip, you may benefit from speak to other businesses, accountants or small business superannuation experts, who may have had previous experience with grant applications, or know what support may be available.