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Did you know that grant funding available to businesses from the 2019 Townsville floods remains unclaimed? 

The unfortunate reality is, that in times of crisis, business owners are often so overwhelmed trying to keep their head above water, that applying for grant opportunities can easily be put in the “too hard” basket. 

This week, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the Small Business Adaption Grants of up to $10,000 to help businesses impacted by COVID-19 to be more resilient and recover, so we asked some of Townsville’s grant writing experts for their advice to help you take the first step toward grant funding success.

Check your eligibility

To be eligible, your business must:

  • have been subject to closure or otherwise highly impacted by current shutdown restrictions announced by Queensland’s Chief Health Officer on 23 March 2020
  • demonstrate that business revenue has been significantly impacted since 23 March 2020 over a minimum 1-month period due to the onset and management of COVID-19
  • employ staff and have fewer than 20 employees at the time of applying for the grant
  • have a valid Australian Business Number (ABN) active as at 23 March 2020
  • be registered for GST
  • have a Queensland headquarters
  • have an annual turnover over $75,000 for the last financial year
  • have a payroll of less than $1.3 million
  • not be insolvent or have owners/directors that are an undischarged bankrupt.

Gerard Byrne, a small business financial counsellor and mentor, points out a key point of this grant funding is that is covers a range of services and goods that you may have required immediately.

“Normally grants are in the future, this is one of the few that isn’t, and is backdated to 23rd March,” he says.  “Have records of what you’ve done or plan to do.”

Local businessman and founder of the Townsville Grants Taskforce, David Donohue, reminds applicants to read the terms and conditions carefully, pointing out that while you can seek advice on this Adaption Grant process, applicants are required to complete the application themselves.

 “The document says that ‘applications that are found to have been derived from a third party will be considered invalid’,” he says. “Always read the terms and conditions.”

Conduct a gap assessment & identify your project

It’s worth noting that support services to assist businesses to adapt and pivot, such as business coaching, financial counselling, marketing and communications, are included under the funding guidelines, so it is a great opportunity to consider projects to assist with recovery and strengthen your business for the future.

Miranda Mears, Director of Learning Partnerships, Townsville Chamber of Commerce Board Member and volunteer Mentor with Mentoring for Growth, recommends businesses take a strategic deep dive.

“Ask yourself ‘where am I now, where do I need to be,’” she advises.  “That gap in between is your action plan.”

Once you’ve identified the project you wish to apply for funding for, contact suppliers for quotes, and let them know it is for the grant application so they can do their best to provide a fast turnaround.  Remember to support local suppliers wherever possible!

Click the Apply Now button

Miranda suggests clicking through the link to start an application so you can see what is required and not feel so daunted by the process.

“I think people will be pleasantly surprised at how straight forward the government has made the process,” she says.  “It’s not drawn out at all.”

David agrees that with a bit of forward planning and assembling your business financials, proof of lost business, and quotes for your project, submitting the application should be quite simple.

 “This is a really straightforward ‘tick and flick’ process and applicants are even able to pre-print the application form so you can consider it in your own time, assemble the few documents required, and pencil in your answers before you go back online to submit the application,” he says.

Tell your story using key words

“You need to be able to write a good story that is clear and concise,” says Gerard.  “Facts, figures and faces – that’s what the people assessing want to know.”

He also recommends sourcing statistics and figures from relevant sources, such as Townsville Enterprise, to provide context when measuring the impact of lost business.

Miranda’s top tip is to pick out the key words in the grant and strategically use that language in your application, just as you would when answering selection criteria for a job application.

“Use those key words to hit the mark on what the government is looking for when assessing your application,” she says.

Know that you don’t have to do it alone

There are many local organisations and consultants who are offering free advice to assist business owners with applying for the Small Business Adaption Grant. 

“The Townsville business community has so many people out there willing to help,” says Miranda.  “Take the first step to pick up the phone, have a conversation and get a sense if that person’s working style will work for you.

“In my experience, most small business owners know how to do their business well, but are not necessarily specialised in transformation and thinking about where you could potentially go.

“There are so many opportunities they are missing because of that initial step.”

Gerard agrees, and says, “Most people in business are doers, not grant writers.”

“These grants are so important, not only because people need the support, but also for the return to confidence and psychological wellbeing.”

If you are a small business owner, and you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to take the first step towards applying for a Small Business Adaption Grant by visiting the Business Queensland website.  Applications are open now and will close when funding has been exhausted, so businesses are encouraged to apply sooner rather than later.  Good luck!

By Julie Johnston for BDmag Online

Useful Contacts

Miranda Mears is the Director of Learning Partnerships, is a Chamber of Commerce Board member and a volunteer mentor with Mentoring For Growth.  You can contact her at miranda@learningpartnerships.com.au.

Gerard Byrne is a Small Business Financial Counsellor with Remote Area Planning and Development Board (RAPAD) and a volunteer mentor with Mentoring For Growth.  You can contact his at gerard@rfcsnq.com.au.

David Donohue is a local businessman who has established the Townsville Grants Taskforce to connect business owners with specialists for advice on grants and other Government assistance packages.  You can contact David on davidd@qccn.com.au for support and to access support providers.

If you are a grant support provider (community, government or for-profit) and would like to register to join the Grants Taskforce, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Grants_Taskforce

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