Business Grants: Funding For Your Business

A whole range of incentives are available to assist small businesses but owners are often unaware of what is out there…

There are a range of tax breaks and rebates, government grants and business support groups available to small business in Australia. Politicians on both sides of the political divide recognise the importance of the sector to the economy (or perhaps for their re-election) and over the last two decades a range of financial sweeteners have been developed for small businesses. There are three main categories to consider – tax concessions, government grants, and business support. The biggest challenge is learning how to get your hands on them.

Tax Concessions There are superannuation related tax concessions for small business owners so don’t forget those. But what about concessions for your business? For those involved in Research & Development there are concessions of up to 175% (effectively a 175% tax deduction) available in certain circumstances (the normal level being $125%) as well as tax offsets. Another is the Energy Grants Credits Scheme where certain industries are eligible for rebates on some fuels for transport and management of goods. A surprising number of industries are eligible for the grant but note that this requires the vehicle to be GVM 4.5 tonnes or higher.

Government Grants There are a range of grants available and many of them are industry specific, so if you’re in business there is probably a grant available. In the retail sector two grants that stand out in particular are the Commercial Ready Grant, which helps businesses establish new products, processes or services, and the Small Business Entrepreneurship Program, which is a similar program specifically for small business.

Business Support Most states and territories run their own advisory services or mentoring programs and many are either free or heavily subsidised by the government. The main point of contact in most cases is the Business Enterprise Centre (BEC) which is located right across Australia and provides training programs, referrals and mentoring support. At a federal level, the WorkChoices Employer Advisor Program (EAP) provides practical advice on implementation and management of Australian Workplace Agreements.

Xpress Numbers It is estimated that fewer than 1 in 1,000 businesses apply for a tax concession, grant or business support. Depending on the business survey, typically 50% of small businesses cite ‘cashflow’ or ‘access to capital’ as an inhibitor to business growth, something that could be improved through tax concessions or grants.

Xpress Resources Prepare… for applying for a grant by visiting your local chamber of commerce and talking to other small business owners. You will be surprised at how much you can pick up from others. Read… about how other business owners in your industry approached the issue. Your industry association has a journal (like this one) which is probably a good place to start. Visit… a professional ‘Grant Applicant’ to help apply for a grant if it all seems like too much hard work. They typically work on a ‘no success, no fee’ model so there is limited downside for you.

Xpress Tips There are an extraordinary range of web sites that can assist you in both accessing tax concessions or applying for grants. Here are some of the best:

Tax Concessions: www.ato.gov.au and www.ausindustry.gov.au

Government Grants: www.grantslink.gov.au and www.business.gov.au

Business Support: www.workchoices.gov.au and www.training.gov.au and www.workplace.gov.au

Rachel Felton is the Head of Small Business Services, American Express. For further information, and for a free weekly business update, visit www.americanexpress.com.au/businesscentre

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