The Queensland Government is rolling out its first suite of new small business grants since COVID hit – and businesses are excited!
While larger manufacturing and technology-type businesses have been ‘grant-aware’ for a long time, for many smaller and service-based businesses, the COVID grants of mid-2020 were their first introduction to the world of government grants. Now, the G-word gets everyone excited, but where there’s potential for excitement, there’s also potential for disappointment.
So you can go in with eyes-wide-open, here are a few things to consider as you explore the newest grants rolling out now –
The Business Growth Fund (open now), Business Basics and Business Boost grants.
1. Firstly – remember that the grants released during COVID were NOT your typical government grant – they were ‘stimulus/rescue’ funding, not ‘competitive grants’. They were quick, simple and exhaustive – meaning they were assessed and funded as received and once the money ran out, they closed.
2. ‘Open competitive’ grants are a different beast – they are open to all who are eligible, have a closing date and are assessed on merit and against each other. You need to demonstrate that you’re eligible AND competitive. You have set criteria to meet and are expected to provide facts and evidence. You must work for your money and deliver results.
The Business Growth Fund, for example, has very detailed eligibility criteria and expectations. It’s not just about ‘equipment’, but ‘highly specialized equipment’ that must have a direct link to increasing employment and economic returns. It’s aimed at ‘high-growth potential’ businesses (min 20% growth over 12 months). Clearly, not a grant for everyone, but certainly very useful for those that can tick all the right boxes.
Detailed guidelines for the Business Basic and Business Boost grants aren’t released yet, but their overviews sound friendlier and much more useful to the average small business.
For the Business Basics grant (opening late May), there’s up to $5000 to help new/emerging businesses increase core capabilities and adopt current best practice. Without the benefit of the guidelines, start to think systems, software, training/coaching and so on; and best practice in, for example COVID-safe systems and practices.
The Business Boost grants, opening late July 2021, will offer up to $15,000 to help improve efficiencies and productivity through business development activities. Think automation, software or website upgrades; marketing activities; business coaching/business consultancy; systems upgrades and so on.
3. Assuming these grants are ‘open competitive’ you will need to demonstrate WHAT you will do, WHY you should be funded and HOW you will deliver relevant outcomes. In most cases, you will need to demonstrate that you’re retaining existing and/or creating new jobs.
For businesses excited to apply – NOW is the time to start planning. Consider your business plan; target your activity; and start to seek quotes, so that you’re ready to go when the guidelines are released.
For businesses as ‘providers-of-services’ that could be funded by a grant (Digital services providers, business coaches, marketing companies etc) – now is the time to prepare the packages and services you could offer that provide value-for-money (a key government criteria).
A word of warning to all – don’t be fooled into thinking that a potential provider-of-services can or should write your grant for you, especially if they’re offering to do it for free. The Queensland Government does NOT look favourably on cookie-cutter style or mass-produced applications written by service providers. They are actively monitoring for and red-flagging this type of activity.
A good grant will help you to stand out from the crowd, not lose you in it. If you need help, seek out a professional grant writer for an individualised and tailored application that boosts your chance for success.
For more information on the grants click here.