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How to Use Grants to Grow and Improve Your Business

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Discovering better ways to approach grant funding

Government grants are often categorised by their target industry or sector. And indeed having these categories is a good way to quickly find grants in your industry.

But I think there’s also a downside, because this categorisation often leads to business owners thinking of grants in narrow terms. Which means they might be missing out on game-changing funding opportunities because they only consider grants which apply to their industry or sector.

Not thinking ‘outside the box’ means you’re potentially missing out on a wealth of opportunities. So let’s begin by reconsidering how we think about grants.

Grants are not just about different sectors or types of businesses, they’re also about activities. Many businesses start small and become bigger players over the course of their lifespan—which is why there are always dozens of government grants for small businesses on offer across Australia.

In this article, I’ll break down some of the many different ways you can use grants to benefit your business.

Leveraging grants by business activity

There’s a broad spectrum of business activities which can leverage grant funding. From new market activation, to growing exports, to supporting critical R&D activities, or boosting business growth.

Some of the different ways to use grants to benefit your business

Here are a few common business activities for which you could potentially secure grant funding:

  • Business development
  • Kick-starting startups
  • Fuelling rapid growth
  • Accessing more working capital
  • Conducting studies
  • Facilitating investment
  • Powering research & development
  • Launching or ramping up exports

For the remainder of this article we’ll explore each of these in more detail.

Business development

Grants like the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) are all about helping Australian businesses get access to new customers in overseas markets.

The EMDG effectively halves eligible foreign business development costs through a 50% cash rebate that’s classified as taxable income. For startups and other early-stage businesses, this is powerful financing that they might otherwise be unable to secure without an established track record of success.

Example grants

Kick-starting startups

While most grants will require you to have some sort of established market presence, there are programs out there for fledgling microbusinesses and pre-revenue startups that help you to firm up your core business model and determine the path to profitability.

One such program is New Business Assistance with NEIS, which provides opportunities for mentoring, training, and other support for new and existing businesses. You can find out more about this program and other grants for small businesses in our best small business and startup grants article.

Example Grants

Fuelling rapid growth

Many grants are designed to help your business grow. The flagship Industry Growth Program helps support Australian businesses as they bring innovative new products and services to market and pursue rapid growth.

With a full complement of grant opportunities and facilitation services, this is one of the Federal Government’s key initiatives to help Australian businesses bring those potentially lucrative big ideas to life.

After receiving guidance from an advisor, you may be eligible for the grant streams fo the Industry Growth Program. This program provides financial assistance up to 50% of eligible expenditure for novel products, services and processes.

Example Grants

Accessing more working capital

Sometimes all your business needs to ‘catch’ is a little more fuel on the fire. Naturally, one of the most popular ways to use a grant is to access more working capital than you would otherwise be able to.

A grant can bolster your business’s ‘war chest’ without the need to get a traditional loan, attract new investors, or dish out equity. But don’t think this is a free lunch—grant funding can’t just be used to patch holes in a leaky business model or cover general costs of doing business.

To get the benefits of a grant, you’ll need to meet a set of eligibility criteria and complete a specific project that has positive benefits for Australia’s economy and your local community—most grants are in some way about the creation of new jobs whether directly or indirectly. And you’ll need to spend—and account for—every dollar of grant funding as it’s intended to be used.

Example grants

Conducting studies

Some grant programs have business facilitation services built into them. These services enable business owners to undertake activities like feasibility studies that solidify their case for investment.

One example is the Investment Fast-Track Fund (IFF), which is part of Victoria’s Regional Jobs & Infrastructure Fund. The IFF helps to fill the grantor’s pipeline of investment-ready projects by funding feasibility studies, business cases, and planning processes that need to be completed before the final investment can be made in the grant project.

Example grants

Facilitating investment

Though people usually think of grants first and foremost as funding, they can help in other ways, such as connecting you to relevant investment opportunities.

One of the biggest problems with attracting investment is connecting with the right people and organisations—those with the ability to invest either themselves, or to make the relevant connections.

Many business owners are great at running their business but may not have the time or inclination to do the networking necessary to get in the room with suitable investors.

Thankfully, some grants are designed to help you get access to game-changing investment opportunities that otherwise might be out of reach. There’s also the added benefit that by connecting with relevant investors, you may open a whole new set of doors and opportunities.

For businesses in Queensland, the Queensland Jobs Fund offers one such opportunity in the form of its Investment Facilitation Scheme. This scheme helps manufacturing businesses to engage with governments to remove barriers to grant project completion.

Example grants

Powering research & development

A quick search of GrantConnect’s list of grant opportunities shows that at any one time, you could expect to find 10 to 15 different grants that feature the phrase ‘research and development’, with grants offered by a broad variety of different government departments.

The R&D Tax Incentive is the most widely known R&D program and is perhaps the one that peoples’ minds go to when the term ‘R&D grant’ is mentioned, but the fact is there are many different grants that support R&D besides this one.

For universities, medical research organisations and corporations, the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) is a landmark $20 billion fund offering a multitude of grant opportunities. There are typically multiple grants open at any one time under this program, with each grant opportunity centred on a specific area of research. Some of these grants come and go and may reopen for another cycle after they are initially closed, so it pays to keep close tabs on this fund.

Australian manufacturers with an emphasis on R&D could be eligible for grant funding as part of the Manufacturing Collaboration Stream, which falls under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative. The Collaboration Stream offers grants of between $20 million–$200 million for large collaborative projects between complementary manufacturing organisations.

Example grants

Launching or ramping up exports

Exporting offers many benefits that simply can’t be attained through domestic trade only, such as access to lucrative new markets and the ability to trade in opposite seasons to Australia—a boon for exporters of items with heavily seasonal customer demand.

But exports can also be a daunting proposition for smaller businesses who have worked their way up from localised operations into an export-ready position. There are all sorts of international laws and regulations that your organisation will need to meet and doing so can be expensive.

That’s why grants can be a powerful catalyst for businesses that are either beginning or expanding their export activities, by reducing the amount of financial risk a new or growing exporter needs to take on and connecting export businesses to facilitation services that help to ensure their export readiness.

Example grants

Resources and help to get a grant

There are many more grants available—check out our finding grants article if you want to get better at discovering grants.

Our Insights showcase some of the grant-winning methods we employ at GrantHelper, and they will help you create a stronger grant application. But no matter how well prepared you are, winning grants takes time—something we know many business owners and directors just don’t have. And that’s why we’re here to help.

GrantHelper can assist with your organisation’s next grant application, no matter what stage of the funding journey you’re at.

I need help applying for grants

Check out our How to Prepare Before You Apply insight to help you reduce the stress levels when you apply for a grant.

Check out our How to write a successful grant application to learn some time-saving tips to make the grant writing process easier.

Our in-depth eBook is the single most valuable resource you will find that helps organisations to truly understand how to win government grants.

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Download our eBook to discover grant-winning secrets

Our free eBook features 10 chapters of expert advice, professional tips and more to help you do better with grants, whether you’re new to the process or you’ve applied before.

Get your copy of the Guide to Winning Grants now.

Is your business eligible for this government grant? Or perhaps you’re not sure and want to know more?

GrantHelper offers a range of government grant services, helping businesses of all sizes to discover, apply for, and win the best grant opportunities. We can help you with anything from finding the right grants, to writing your application, formulating an ongoing grant strategy, and more.

Get started now by filling in the form below, or tap the ‘Book a Discovery Call’ button to schedule a no-obligation virtual meeting with an experienced government grants consultant.

Check out some of the clients we’ve helped and what they had to say about us.

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What's on my mind

Hi, I’m Steve Dowling – founder of GrantHelper. I’m a former champion of marketing and export business development turned business builder.

I do a lot of thinking and reading around grants, strategy, and funding. I send a monthly newsletter with what’s on my mind on this stuff.

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