Identifying Grant and Funding Opportunities

Small business finance & accounting

This business support module takes you through key tips to identifying grant and funding opportunities for your business.

Key learning outcomes:

  • Understanding what is Grant Funding
  • What type of things will it fund
  • Tips 1&2 from '7 Steps to Grant Success' program
  • Learning how to identify relevant grant funding opportunities for your business

Video Presentation: Identifying Grant & Funding Opportunities

Identifying Grant & Funding Opportunities

Good morning. My name's Diane Brown. I'm a chartered accountant and business advisor with SRJ Walker Wayland. I've got over 20 years experience working across a number of different industries, doing both traditional and non-traditional accounting work. My passion is education. And educating business owners like yourselves on the importance of planning for success, and working with you to implement strategies to achieve your growth and profitability goals.

So today I want to talk to you about some tips for identifying potential funding opportunities to help you achieve those growth and profitability goals. So we all know in this post-COVID era that cashflow and working capital are going to be critical elements of your business resilience and continued success.

And any successful business is one that develops their strategic plans, implements those action items contained within those plans, and, more of importantly, prepares financial forecasts to ensure that they have sufficient working capital to actually be able to implement and adjust those plans where required.

So there's a number of different ways that you can actually look to fund that those different plans. So with your working capital, we have the traditional and the non-traditional means of financing those action items.

So we're going to run out the webinar later in this series on the different financing methods. But today I want to talk about one that I get asked a lot of different questions about, and that is grant funding. So today I'm going to give you some tips on how to identify where there's a particular, a grant opportunity that you can tap into.

So we're going to talk about what grant funding actually is; what type of things we've used it to actually fund different programs for clients; and I'll also introduce you to my seven step program to ensure your business is best place for grant success. And finally, I'll show you with you tips on how I go about identity to find different grant funding programs that may be useful for clients in a wide variety of districts to actually fund those growth opportunities.

What is Grant Funding?

So let’s now talk about what grants funding actually is. So grant funding is a non-repayable contribution to your business, usually from a government source, although not always. There are a lot of large organisations throughout Australia and internationally that will fund specific programs. Although the private organizations tend to fund more of the not-for-profit, type entities.

So most of our grant funding programs that are relevant to the business community, usually stem from federal, state and local council funding opportunities and funding priorities. And I'll talk more about how you can actually use those federal state and local funding priorities to access information that may have funding programs attached to it as we get through today's webinar.

Every grant program comes with acquittal requirements. So it's really important to remember that when you're accessing grant funding, it's not simply a matter of the government gives you funding and off you go. It's a case of ensuring that you are prepared to access that funding in the first place, and also ensuring that you have the business systems in place to monitor and report, and comply with your acquittal requirements.

What type of things will grants fund?

So what types of things will grants fund? Basically it depends on the program, and I'll give you some examples of the type of things our clients have used to fund under grant funding programs. So we've funded strategic business plans. We've funded financial forecasts, budgets and cash flows. We've funded for performance appraisal and development programs, digital marketing strategies, website upgrades, digital recordings such as this one by aONE Films, systems and process documentation, business structure advice, websites, hosting fees, introduction to Zero and other cloud accounting packages and various app stacks. Manufacturing and production equipment.

So whilst there are a number of grants that fund business resilience programs, such as strategic planning, cash flows, and skills development. There are also grant funding programs that will fund nuts and bolts. So manufacturing, production, equipment, that side of things.

And finally, for those of you who are in the innovation space, there is quite a number of grant funding programs available that will fund product and service commercialisation. So we've had a lot of success in a very wide variety of different grant funding programs from the smaller programs through to $10,000, right up until the $2.5 million dollar funding programs.

So how can you ensure that your best planned for growth success? There's a seven step process that I always work through with clients. So over the course of two webinars. So this will be the first of those. I will take you through those seven step processes.

For today, we are going to focus on steps one and two. So considering your readiness for grant application. And secondly, identifying a suitable project and a suitable funding opportunity to be able to implement that project.

In my next webinar, we'll be talking about the remaining five steps, and we'll take you through the detail in those steps.

Considering your readiness for grant application

So step number one, considering your readiness for grant application. One of the things that I always say to clients is it's really important that you have that strategic business plan, not just for your business success, but also to enable you to use that plan to tap into various funding programs. So when he good strategic business plan needs to look at where your business is now; where you want it to be in 12 months to two years; and then develop strategies, broken down into detailed action items, to help you get where you want to be.

And it's those action items that you actually use to apply on determine your funding, priorities that you then want to map to the various grant programs.

So the grants programs that you should be looking for are those that have funding action items to achieve your business goals.

And the other thing that I will say to clients is if you wouldn't proceed without the grant, don't do it. Grants are competitive-based. And that means that they have a very low likelihood of success. So various grant funding programs, the success rates can vary between 17%, up to about 35%.

So if you wouldn't proceed with a project without the grant, it means that your business isn't particularly ready for that particular project. So the grant should be seen as a bonus that you're able to tap into to support your working capital.

So once you've got your plan, the next thing that you need to do, is you need to identify a suitable project, and then try and map that project to a particular grant funding program.

Two types of grant eligibility requirements

So grants have two types of eligibility requirements. The first type of eligibility requirement relates to the business itself, and the structure. And this can be determined by things like your turnover limits; the number of employees you have; the industry in which you operate; the location in which you operate; your years of operation; and also what type of structure for some specific grants, which might be limited to say a company, for example, as opposed to a sole trader or a partnership. So the first eligibility here, hurdle that you need to acquire cross is your business structure eligibility.

The second eligibility criteria that grant programs focus on is the project itself. And each grant program will have specific funding criteria. So how do you identify which program will support that project. And the thing that I always say to clients is education. So this comes back to your research, and your education and your knowledge of your business, and the direction that you want to go within that business.

So you need to know your business. You need to know your value proposition. You need to know your market, and the market that you might be applying for - particularly in the current environment - if you're looking to pivot and adapt to business strategies, and you need to know what you're trying to achieve.

Most importantly, though, you need to know your industry in which you operate and who your key stakeholders and who your key supporters are. Because those stakeholders are the people that will be looking to make your business a success.

Once you've got the above mapped out in your strategic plan, then you start looking for your funding opportunities.

Identifying applicable funding programs

So how do you identify. The first thing that I always say to my clients is it's important that you know what's happening in your relevant industry group. So you should always be signing up with some of your key industry partners and stakeholders. So for example, if you are a manufacturer, you should be a member of AMGC, which is the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre Limited. If you're a retailer, you should be in the Australian Retail Association and accessing their newsletters that come out regularly. If you are in construction and housing, you should be a member of the Housing Industry Australia. And those industry groups are the people that lobby on the behalf of your industry the various government sources to develop the funding programs, to enable your industry to continue to just survive and be profitable.

And the second thing is develop your business networks on both the local and state, and potentially a federal basis, depending on the topic of business that you actually operate.

Connect with relevant business organisations

So it's really important that you join a number of the various networking groups locally to find out what's happening in your local business environment, and also sign up to their newsletter. For example, Business Moreton Bay Region does some fantastic work for businesses in our area. So find out what's happening, what are their key priorities, sign up to their newsletter, and find out ways that you can work with that organisation to support your business.

Regional Development Australia - Moreton Bay is another fantastic business support network that we have available here in Moreton Bay region. There's a newsletter that comes out weekly. It's a fantastic information summary of various different grant funding programs. So I'd really recommend that you start tapping into those newsletters.

Finally, Innovate Moreton Bay is another good area of information, particularly for those of you that are in the innovation or commercialisation space. You've got your local chambers of commerce, or even use other network providers, such as SRJ Walker Wayland. We have weekly newsletters that go out to our clients with various funding programs attached, and also various business issues that they should be looking at, reviewing, and considering in terms of accessing the tools and support that we can provide them to actually grow their businesses.

Couple of other newsletters, and I've some website links on a PowerPoint, which Tim will display for you. However, it's really important that you get involved with your State Government grant funding programs. So BusinessQueensland.gov.au has a specified grants program page. It's not updated very often, unfortunately, but at least you can start to get an idea of the things that have been funded in the past, because most grants operate on a three year cycle. Because that's our election cycle, because grants are political based.

The core aim of the grant from any government perspective is jobs and growth. So getting information from the source itself, whether that's the State, Federal or Local is really important. So your State Government, there's a website there that I would suggest you sign up for the State Government business newsletter, which will have all the various funding programs, as and when they come out. There's a Federal newsletter that comes out that I would also recommend you sign up to. And on the screen now there should be those various websites showing.

The other thing that you need to be familiar with is what's happening in our local council area. And I know Moreton Bay Regional Council has released a number of different funding initiatives for various businesses located within our region.

One of the key ways that I find out about grant programs. So I do sign up to a particular grant platform and it's called Grants Hub, and I've done a lot of research on the various platforms that are available. And I find for my needs, working across a vast variety of different industries, it's general enough for me to be able to do research when required for different grants.

I wouldn't suggest that you need to sign up to a particular platform because if you're joining your specific industry groups and you're registering through the State Government, the Federal Government pages that I've told you about, and also, RDA Moreton Bay, you will be able to access sufficient information about relevant funding programs. So for your needs, I wouldn't recommend signing up.

What I do recommend strongly though, is making sure that you are familiar with what's happening in the economic space and the political space. So, because grant programs are politically motivated. They come out at the time of election cycles, which we're currently in, in an election year, and also the information is released in the State and Federal budgets. So we're in a bit of a weird time at the moment. So generally, our budgets come out in May. Because of the impact of COVID we've seen two things occur from a political perspective.

The impact of COVID-19 on Grant Funding

So firstly, lot of the traditional grant funding programs that was due to be released in 2020 have been closed early with funds redirected to the various Coronavirus support packages. So that's the first thing that we've seen. The second thing that we've seen is a delay in both the release of the Federal and State Government budgets. So when the Federal and State Governments release their budgets, they will identify their priority funding ideas. And those priority funding areas usually have grant programs attached to them and you will get an idea for the grant program and the size and scale of it by the amount of funding that's stipulated towards that area in the Federal and State budgets.

So I'm always making sure that I'm across the information that's coming out in those budgets. Last week the State government released its current strategy for advancing Queensland businesses, and there were some funding programs contained within that, around tourism in particular, the latest round of the small business adaption grant, which if you missed out on round one, I should say round two is reopening on the 1st of July. So it was announced in that. The detail of some other programs around making it for Queensland, if you're in the manufacturing space are yet to be released, but I would also strongly suggest that you read that Queensland strategy paper that was released last week. Just to get an idea of what you think might be starting to happen in your industry over the next six months.

Tender opportunities

And finally, tenders. So for those, those of you who may not have previously considered the tender option, the State Government in particular, is currently looking to break down some of those larger tender opportunities into smaller components to allow some of our medium sized businesses that operate throughout the state to access some of those tenders.

So I always recommend there's no harm in accessing as much information as you can. To log in and register through QTenders, just to get an idea of what might be coming out in your field. To start you thinking about ways you could possibly tap into some of that State Government or potentially Federal Government money through tenders.com.edu.

So as you can see is a wide variety of information out there to allow you to utilize various grant funding programs, to achieve your strategic goals for your business. It's simply a matter of making sure you're prepared and you're educated, and in the second part of today's webinar, I'll take you through the rest of my seven step program to ensure that your business is best placed for grant success.

Thank you. And look forward to seeing you next time. Bye.

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