I regularly get asked for advice on government grants for businesses. Most enquires are for free money. Many are enquiries from start-ups with a great idea which will transform life as we know it, if only some one would give them some money to commercialise the concept.
Unfortunately there is no such thing as a free lunch. There are grants out there, but they all come with strings.
It is almost impossible for a start-up to get a grant, unless there is some other previous track record. What they are looking for is some evidence that the idea will be a success. That means the idea must be much more than just an idea. There must also have been some research on the concept undertaken already. The assessors will also look closely at the background of the individual. No matter how great the idea, if the individual shows no history of success in other fields of endeavour, they are unlikely to receive a grant.
The idea also has to have some degree of innovation, and for there to be a market. The government is trying to back winners as their ultimate objective is to get their money back from you, in the form of taxation, once you are a success.
There are also business improvement grants, targeted for people in manufacturing and other chosen technical fields. Part of the assessment is the solvency of the business and its financial record. Again the government would like to increase the efficiencies of these sectors particularly where there is strong international competition so they will be more profitable (and pay more tax)!
In almost all these schemes a contribution is required by the applicant. In most cases this is a dollar-for-dollar contribution. The government has probably learned the same lesson that most businesses have learned the hard way, that where there is a co-contribution from a business or individual, the likelihood that the desired outcome will be achieved is greatly enhanced. That is the grant applicant is expected to put some of their own skin into the project so they will be committed to ensuring its success.
All of the foregoing was not to put you off. There is money out there for business, and if you qualify, why shouldn’t you have some of it. It may make a big difference to your business, but there will be hoops you will have to jump through, which is only fair. You will be expected to earn the grant and provide reports on progress at agreed milestones. Those looking for a free lunch should not apply.
So here is a link that will take you to the Australian Government’s Grants Link directory to help you navigate the maze.
Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success and Price: How You Can Charge More Without Losing Sales.
The Australian Small Business Blog