Did you know that there are over 600 government grants and other types of assistance available to your business? Or, that much of the allocated funds are not utilised each and every year?
As business owners there are so many things we need to stay on top of: The latest tax changes, the latest moves of your competitors, difficult staff, not to mention remembering things like birthdays.
As a result, understanding regulations and red-tape on government grants ranks rather low for most of us.
Here are seven tips for accessing government funding that you may not have thought about:-
1. It isn’t all about you
Many business owners make the mistake of thinking that Government funding is all about their business or idea or “next big thing”.
In fact, the key thing to realise is that government funding is available only to align with the policy and promises of the government body. So, for business owners it is about bringing their vision into line with the government, rather than the other way round.
2. What you are offering might not be as simple as you think
Too often business owners are too focused on their next big idea or their amazing service that they actually don’t see what they are actually offering.
As an example the government is often looking at applications from a society perspective. Having an idea for an outdoor shelter that looks amazing may not be eligible for funding; however, using that same idea and positioning it as emergency shelter after an earthquake disaster or as sun safe shelter to prevent cancer, would give a much greater chance of receiving government funding.
3. Do you have a plan?
Yes you need a business plan but even more than that you need a plan/strategy around grant applications.
Most businesses are focusing on what is available right now when they should be developing an effective strategy for applying for grants.
It is not about applying for everything in the hopes that something might work. It is about approaching grant applications as you would every good choice in your business – after checking the criteria and assessing your return on investment.
4. You can show your compliance
Many businesses become concerned about trying to access government money as they feel there is too much red tape. There are certainly expectations and regulations to be aware of; and you can show your compliance.
Following government regulations in terms of financial reporting is a way to show that you comply with government regulations. Just another reason why it is a good idea to have your financial reports up to date!
5. Funding can help you develop your track record
Many people dismiss applying for funding as they are not as successful as they think they have to be. You will need to let the government body see that you are likely to deliver on what you say you will deliver. However, the funding itself can help you to build your reputation and your track record.
You have a great product and it is not taking off locally as well as you hoped – but it is suitable to export. You may be able to access funding to export and take your business overseas; then being successful overseas leads to being treated differently and becoming more successful back in Australia.
6. You must show that you could use the money
Many people believe that it is obvious that an injection of cash will help their business. However, this is not always as obvious as you think.
The purpose of many grants and government assistance is to boost your business. By being able to sell internationally, do more R&D, expand your offering or commercialise what you are developing, the idea would be that your business would grow.
You need to show that your business systems would be able to support that growth.
7. It’s not just about cold, hard cash
Businesses, and in particular start-ups, can get support in so many other ways that are not necessarily pure funding programs. State government or local authorities may subsidise co-working spaces where start-ups can meet likeminded entrepreneurs and get the support they need at an affordable price.
In addition to all of that, there are numerous programs that offer access to low-cost advisory and consultancy.
Business owners need to think outside the square when it comes to accessing funding to boost their business.
So, the reality is that you may be closer to government funding than you think.
There are processes to follow and it is not always the simplest thing in the world to do, but is often worth it to access money that you wouldn’t otherwise have in your business and don’t have to pay back.
(Image source: Bigstock)
Mike Boorn Plener is CEO and executive Producer of Business Connector and convener of the annual Grants Connector event. If you want to find out even more and be introduced to the people who can help you make all of this happen, come and join us at one of our annual Grants Connector events in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.