Business can be a hard slog and from time to time we all benefit from a helping hand. Remember that governments - federal, state and local - offer grants and other business assistance that can save you time and money.
Grants aren’t just available for planning or equipment. There is also funding and incentive schemes for taking on apprentices and trainees or people facing barriers to employment including people with a disability, Aboriginal Australians, and mature-aged workers.
Government grants are more likely to be available to help you to expand your business, conduct research and development or start exporting, rather than for starting a business. The Australian Government’s business.gov.au has a grants page where you can search for assistance relevant to your needs. It also has tools and information including marketing and business plan templates that can save you time and money you’d spend searching for or paying for such services.
If you prefer to talk to someone, the national Small Business Support Line provides small business owners with information and referral services. There is also a Live Chat service on the business.gov.au website. Business Enterprise Centres can be a source of local information and advice whether you are starting up a new business or improving your existing business. They provide training, business referral and mentoring. In the Hunter region there are three – Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter Valley centre is located at Kurri Kurri.
Becoming an exporter has its own specific issues operationally and in terms of finance. There are many programs to help you with grants, loan facilities and reimbursement schemes to establish your export business. The Hunter Central Coast Export Centre, supported by the New South Wales government through Industry and Investment and the local office of Austrade are a good first port of call.
Your financial institution can also be a good source of information about assistance schemes.
Greg Taylor is Deputy CEO and Chief Financial Officer for the Hunter-based Greater Building Society. This blog also appeared in the Newcastle Post September 19.