Innovative small and medium-sized businesses are benefiting from the Entrepreneurs’ Program, run by the CCI and the Federal Government.
Eligible participants can access matched grants of up to $20,000 to meet with experts who can offer insights on how to improve their operations and grow their businesses.
Specifically, the program can offer advice on how to:
- improve your business management capability
- broker connections with research, knowledge and technology organisations to encourage innovation
- find and support the right commercialisation solutions and connections to get your novel product, process or service to market.
Two WA companies — EX Engineering and software developer Lateral —have deemed the program a success.
The program supports businesses in the growth sectors of advanced manufacturing, food and agribusiness, medical technologies and pharmaceuticals, mining equipment, technology and services, and oil, gas and energy resources.
EX Engineering owner-operators Warwick and Jenni Greville, who manufacture and supply electrical goods for hazardous areas, applied for the program after it was recommended by a contact.
The four-year-old company has grown to nine staff and recently moved to larger premises in Belmont.
“It’s a great program where you get a personalised review of your business and the business adviser directly engages with you,” he says.
“We wanted a review of our business because of the growth we were having, and we are always wanting to improve.”
While Greville has more than 20 years of experience in the industry, his previous roles were totally different to what he does now.
“I found the program a lot more relevant to where I am now than, say, going back to university,” he says.
Having external consultants helped put EX Engineering’s position in the market into perspective for its operators.
“It’s really important to have a network of people that you can get advice from and discuss issues and concerns with,” he says.
“With the size of the business, where we are now and where we want to take it, I feel a lot better skilled to do that.”
While Lateral is not in the eligible growth sectors, providers of enabling technologies and professional services to the sectors can also apply.
Lateral CEO Thushara Weerakody discovered the program when searching for guidance on critical business decisions.
Established in 1986, Lateral has about 40 staff with an office in Subiaco and two in Melbourne. Clients include the Department of Health, Patersons, Murdoch University Group and Hollywood Fertility Centre.
“In a few interviews with the business adviser, we discussed the challenges the business was facing, our opportunities and the goals we wanted to achieve,” Weerakody says.
“We also provided them with documentation that we had around business strategy and financial reports.”
A business adviser works with the company leaders to develop a business evaluation report, which includes an action plan. If a company chooses to implement any items in the action plan, they are eligible to apply for a matched funding grant to the value of $20,000.
Weerakody says the process is straightforward and, if successful in obtaining the grant, he will use it to implement one of the key action points of the review.
“I felt the business evaluation action plan report was excellent,” Weerakody says.
“I’ve worked with consultants in the past who have listened a little to some of the discussion, but the business adviser, Andrew Canion, very much captured the details of our meeting and summed up the situation.”
Applicants don’t need to be a CCI Member, but must have been trading for at least three years and have had turnover of more than $1.5 million during one of those years.