In the know: business grants

Are you missing out on money that could help you grow your business? Billions of dollars in business grants are available now. GrantReady Chief Executive Officer Adrian Spencer shares his tips on how to make grants part of your business strategy.

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Are you missing out on money that could help you grow your business? Billions of dollars in business grants are available now. GrantReady Chief Executive Officer Adrian Spencer shares his tips on how to make grants part of your business strategy.

More than 750 different grants worth billions of dollars are currently available to help Australian businesses fund key projects and activities that can help them become more innovative, find a new market or finance the equipment they need to grow. Yet very few business owners know what funding is available, whether they’re eligible or how to apply.

“Federal and state governments, local councils and non-government agencies all make grants available for different industries and activities such as export and innovation,” says GrantReady CEO Adrian Spencer. “In the past, this complexity made it hard to know where to start. That’s why we developed an easy-to-use database that includes every grant available in Australia.”

GrantGuru lets business owners search for grants that meet their own criteria. They can also sign up for a free e-newsletter that sends alerts as new opportunities arise.

“We tailor the e-newsletter according to where you’re based, your industry and the type of activity you’re interested in,” says Spencer. “When something new comes up that might interest you, we email a short summary and a link you can follow if you’d like to know more. As many as 10 new grants are announced every week so this is a good way of keeping track.”

A critical difference

During the global financial crisis many businesses were struggling to survive, but one innovative Australian manufacturer continued to thrive by applying for grants.

“They produce very large switchboards for major railway stations and the grants they received over five or six years enabled them to continue to innovate,” says Spencer. “They gained a competitive advantage and, today, they have an internationally recognised research and development facility and are acknowledged as one of the leaders in their industry.”

Spencer has also seen people miss out. “Another manufacturer put off applying for a grant we’d recommended for over a year,” he says. “When they finally did apply, they received $35,000 – but they were told they’d have qualified for an extra $200,000 if they’d applied nine months earlier.

“Grants are changing all the time, and once the money’s gone, it’s gone. That’s why it’s so important to stay in touch with what’s available and make a grant strategy part of your business plan.”

Four steps to success

According to Spencer, it’s a common misconception that you simply find a grant and then apply for it. For the best possible outcome, he recommends the following steps.

1. Do your research

A grant is an extension of government policy. You should get to know what the government is trying to achieve and how your business could support that.

2. Develop a grant strategy

An effective grant strategy should be aligned with your overall business plan and reviewed on a regular basis. You can then identify the grants that’ll be of most value as your business grows and changes.

3. Tailor your application

Every grant has different criteria, and in most cases you’ll be competing against other applicants. Ensure your application is relevant, presents you in the best possible light and demonstrates the benefits you can bring to the grant provider.

4. Be prepared to report back

When you do receive a grant you’ll need to report regularly on how you’re spending the money. If you don’t use it exactly as you stated in your application you could be asked to pay it back.

Key Resources

This article was first published in Business View magazine (Winter 2015). For more articles and interactivity, download the iPad edition of Business View for free via our app, NAB Think.