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Become a grant guru in five easy steps

By Hugh Halloran

No matter how big or how small your business is, there’s probably a government grant waiting for you to reach out and grab it.

From COVID-19 support, to implementing renewable energy initiatives, to business expansion, to organising events — local, state and federal grants are available to SMEs everywhere.

In many cases, all you need is to be incorporated with an ABN and a certain level of turnover, plus the willingness to half-fund the cost of your project.

Let’s take a look at what you should do to give your business the best chance of winning.

Why are you applying?

Firstly, know why you’re actually applying for a grant!

You’d be surprised how many people like the idea of winning grants but don’t know what grants they can or should apply for.

If you can’t explain it, you won’t win it. Vague ideas end in tears.

Use the CCIWA Grant Finder to find out what’s available for your business and start planning now.

Research, research, research

Past performance mightn’t guarantee future results, but you’ve everything to gain by finding out what other previous successful applicants did right.

When the grant provider says “Contact us”, do so! Call them up, ask a few questions and see what additional information you can glean.

Ask for a record of previous grant winners, then get in touch with some of those companies. They might want to keep some financial details private, but there’s a good chance they’ll have some useful hints and tips to share.

Similarly, reach out to your friends and business associates for advice and insights. Make a point of asking around at the next networking event you go to. You never know what you might find out after 6pm.

Address the requirements

Solar photovoltaic modules on a rooftopRead the eligibility requirements closely and address them clearly. As one funding body says, “We review your application against the eligibility criteria. Only eligible applications will proceed to the assessment stage.”

When it comes to the level of detail and supporting information you provide in your application, make it relative to the project size, complexity and grant amount requested.

A request for $10,000 to install solar panels on a factory roof is clearly going to need less qualification than requesting $1 million to scale-up and expand your business operations.

You’ll probably also need to include things like a project plan, a budget and evidence of how you’ll meet your side of the bargain — so make sure you tick off every box you’re asked to.

Make people want to read it

What do you prefer to look at, pages of dense text or neat, well-spaced paragraphs with nice white space enhanced with the judicious use of photos, graphics, diagrams and colour?

The person reading your application probably feels the same way, so do them and yourself a favour and put a bit of thought into your presentation.

Maybe include headshots and short bios of your project lead or team. If you have an artist’s impression, put it in.

You don’t need to be a graphic designer to prepare an appealing document, you just need to put a bit of thought into it.

Get it in on time

Make the deadline — preferably well in advance.Clock face labelled Deadline

You don’t want to be leaving your application until the last minute, because nearly anything could happen. Internet outages and server crashes rarely happen at a convenient time, but they do happen all the time.

It’s true that many grants are run on a rolling basis, but you can’t expect to automatically be included in the next round of funding in three months’ time, even if the grant provider says late applications will be considered at future meetings.

More than that, governments can change, ministers can change and priorities can change before you can say “French submarine deal”.

Plus, while there’s COVID, there’s potential trouble. Imagine how you’d feel if there was an outbreak in your team and every employee has to immediately go into self-quarantine on deadline day...

You’ve gone to the trouble, time and expense to put in an application, so make sure it gets in front of someone as soon as possible.

There are currently more than 2,000 grants for Australian businesses worth $80 billion: Use the CCIWA Grant Finder to get your grant today.

No matter how big or how small your business is, there’s probably a government grant waiting for you to reach out and grab it.

From COVID-19 support, to implementing renewable energy initiatives, to business expansion, to organising events — local, state and federal grants are available to SMEs everywhere.

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