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A helping hand for small business

It is universally acknowledged that operating a small business can be a risky and lonely enterprise, although if you are running your own show you’ll also be aware that it can be a rewarding one. If it does sometimes feel as if you’re waging a one-person battle against an indifferent world, there is help available.

Many Australians will have been impacted by the trauma of a business failing, either as an owner or as a customer. ABS figures show half of the micro or small businesses that launched in financial year 2010-11 had ceased operating by June 2014 ͥ. Yet in some of those cases, the business may have survived if its owner had accessed financial assistance available from governments.

Here’s a round-up of just some of the support available.

Federal Government assistance

The Entrepreneurs’ Programme offers financial assistance. This is delivered in the form of the Accelerating Commercial fund ͥ ͥand Business Growth Grants ͥ ͥ ͥ. The former can cover half the costs (capped at $250,000 in most cases) of commercialising a product, service or process. The latter provides grants of up to $20,000 for businesses seeking to improve their operations and grow. In addition, businesses turning over less than $20 million that spend more than $20,000 on R&D in a year can claim a 43.5 per cent refundable tax offset through the R&D Tax Incentive.ͥˇ

If you’ve come up with a unique and scalable product or service, you may qualify for the ‘Landing Pad’ program which is offered through Austrade. The program supports businesses by providing free workspaces and services for 90 days in an international start up hot spot such as San Francisco.

For exporters, the Export Market Development Grantˇ will reimburse 50 per cent of your promotional expenses, capped at $150,000 if you have spent more than $15,000 promoting the export of Australian goods and services.

There are also grants that provide support for businesses doing everything from launching regional community events (AusIndustry’s Community Investment Streamˇ ͥprovides grants of up to $10 million) to businesses that strengthen relations with nations such as China, Japan and Korea (DFAT offers grants of $5000- $40,000).

Your business may also qualify for narrowly targeted grants. An AusIndustry Cooperative Research Centre Grant, for instance, can cover 50 per cent of a business’s expenses (with no cap) if it’s working with a research organisation to develop a new technology, product or service.

State Government assistance

There are literally hundreds of State Government grants available to businesses operating in particular industries or regions or needing specific forms of support. Some examples include: the Queensland Government’s Small Business Digital Grant, which can provide up to $10,000 for the purchase of hardware, software and IT training and the Blue and Green Business Program that provides rebates up to $3500 for businesses in Northern NSW taking steps to improve their water efficiency.

It’s well worth spending some time Googling to see if your business is in line for some government money. Federal government websites, such as business.gov.au and www.australiangovernmentgrants.org, and their State Government counterparts are a good place to start.

Local Government assistance

Local governments rarely provide grants. But it is common for councils to offer start-ups free work spaces in areas they are seeking to revitalise. Another exciting development in recent years has been the spread of start-up hubs. (Sydney’s Fishburners and Stone & Chalk, Melbourne’s York Butter Factory and Brisbane’s Little Tokyo Two get most of the publicity but there are plenty more.) These hubs offer office space and high-tech facilities to new businesses at a modest price. Plus, there may be the chance to collaborate with your fellow tenants, receive mentoring and more easily access venture capital.

Running a small business can be challenging, but there’s support available if you know where to look. It’s well worth your time doing a little bit of research as to the various grants and government assistance that can provide your business with a helping hand.

i) Small Business Research Report 2015, SMSF Association, p16, https://www.smsfassociation.com/wpcontent/uploads/2016/08/smsf_association_-_2015_small_business_research_report.pdf

ii) https://www.business.gov.au/Assistance/Accelerating-Commercialisation

iii) https://www.business.gov.au/Assistance/Business-Growth-Grants

iv) https://www.business.gov.au/assistance/research-and-development-tax-incentive

v) http://www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Export/Export-Grants/Assessment-and-payment-amounts

vi) https://www.business.govᵢᵢᵢᵢ.au/assistance/building-better-regions-fund

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Neil Cameron

About the author

As BMO’s senior taxation researcher and advisor, Neil provides specialist advice to the accounting and tax team. He has 30 years tax and accounting experience and is respected for his ability to unravel complex taxation issues, and he also conducts training sessions for the team. Born in South Australia, Neil moved with his family to Western Australia, and then later moved to Queensland to READ MORE

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