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Small businesses face an uphill battle to keep budgets under control. But there is help available. Financial assistance, in the form of government and community grants, goes a long way to keeping small businesses afloat. We take a look at the range of funding out there and how to get it.

Anyone who’s started a small business, or at least got as far as drafting a budget, knows how expensive a new enterprise can be. What starts as an exciting opportunity has the potential to be quickly subsumed by financial headaches. Budding business owners should not be disheartened, however. You don’t have to do it alone.

There’s a lot of talk – notably during election campaigns – about financial help for small businesses. Amid all the rhetoric, figures and lofty promises, what tangible funding and benefits can small businesses access?

Small business grants

Generally, there are no automatic grants for simply starting a business. Rather, there are incentives for things like hiring policy, research and development, innovation, expansion and exporting.

Nor are grants randomly bestowed upon well-meaning businesses. You have to actively apply for them, and be able to report back on deliverables and success.

Your company strategy will determine what kind of grants are available to you. As a rule, innovative, community-minded and green initiatives tend to be the most readily rewarded.

Grants vs loans vs investment

Before accepting assistance, you should understand exactly what you’re signing up for. The difference between a grant, a loan and an investment may seem self-explanatory but it helps to be sure.

Put simply, a loan requires return OF the initial capital, whereas an investment seeks return ON the initial capital. As for grants, it might look like free money, but grants are provided by governments or organisations for a specific purpose. While it doesn’t require reimbursement, a grant is awarded on certain conditions. Criteria needs to be upheld. For example, if you receive concessions for meeting energy consumption targets, you need to keep meeting those targets to continue receiving concessions.

Tips for getting a grant

It’s easy to assume that your business deserves a grant simply because it’s built on a great premise. Sadly that’s not quite how it works.

  • Grants tend to be project-based rather than funding a business as a whole.
  • Just like you have a strategy for other parts of your business, you should devise a strategy for getting (and maintaining) a grant.
  • Be direct, courteous and (above all) concise in your grant application.
  • Report diligently – communicating clearly with grant administrator.

There are over a hundred government grants available to businesses in every state and territory of Australia. Here’s just a small selection of the grants on offer.

For the full list of grants visit


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