The grants in Australia targeted at SMEs are available at federal, state and municipal levels. These grants all have different eligibility criteria and conditions. Hence, the process for accessing the grants will vary depending on what type of grant it is. Below, we set out three key tips for you to know to access a grant.
Many grants have detailed criteria, dependent on the nature of the business. For example, to get access to the Small Business Grant NSW, you must ensure that your business will have no payroll tax liability for the whole 12 month employment period of the new employee as at 30 June of that financial year. Payroll tax exemptions are set out by the Office of State Revenue and are predominantly given to non-profit organisations, charities or organisations set up for the public benefit – you should ensure that you fit into this category to access this grant.
Many grants only provide funding for specific types of development. Do you need it to expand your startup? To support a new employees’ job in your business? For example, while NSW’s Small Business Grant only provides funding for new employment, the Small Business Innovation Research Pilot Program in SA only provides six months’ worth of funding for research and development purposes, and the Cyber Security Small Business Grant only gives a one-off grant to access cyber security testing.
On the other hand, some grants will provide more generalised funding. The Small Business Grants in Melbourne have divided their grants into five categories with different funding limits accorded to each, providing funding for startups, business expansion, export entry, support services and micro businesses. The grants received for these categories must only be used for the purposes for which they were given.
Many of the grants require proof or evidence of accurate information before they will consider your application. For the Small Business Grants provided by the City of Melbourne, businesses only qualify if they have less than 20 employees and if they can proceed without grant funding, hence the business must be financially stable even without the grant. Financial documents may need to be provided as evidence.
To get access to the Business Improvement Grant under the Pilot SME Growth Program, you must submit your business to a review by an experienced business advisor, who will need to access at least three years’ worth of financial information of your business and information relating to your key employees. Furthermore, the grant is only provided to those businesses who are prepared to make the improvements recommended in the review and can match the grant funding dollar for dollar.
Finally, each grant has different cut-off dates and a varied number of grants available each year. The Pilot SME Growth Program, for example, accepts applications on an ongoing basis, while the Melbourne grants do not open their applications until 4 July 2016. You should also check specifically for the grant you want how the application should be submitted – most of them are now done online. However, it is always best to be sure.
To access a grant, you should ensure that you know eligibility requirements and that you can provide any proof or documents needed to qualify for it. If you know you will be applying for a grant; planning ahead is the best strategy.