Finance, Startup Advice

How to secure a government grant for your small business or startup

Carly Greenwood /

There are myriad grants available for small businesses and startups — state, federal and even local — all of them designed to assist you in different ways. Keeping on top of the grants that are available is one thing, knowing how to secure them is another matter entirely.  

For Jacqui Kirkland of Grateful Harvest, receiving a relocation grant from the City of Frankston in Victoria meant being able to grow at a time when the business’s mainstay, Kombucha, was peaking.

“Without the grant we wouldn’t have made that next step as quickly as we did,” says Kirkland.

“We would still be caught up in a space that wouldn’t have been working as well for us.” Because they were able to move and grow, the business has more than doubled in revenue since the grant.

Read more: Why Chobani yoghurt king Hamdi Ulukaya is giving away cash grants to Aussie food businesses

Checklist for preparing a grant application

While every grant has its unique selection criteria, there are consistent factors that all applicants should be cognisant of. According to Business Queensland, these are just some things to think about to ensure your application doesn’t fail:

  • Grant applications can take a long time. Make sure the grant is relevant to your business, industry, and the specific outcomes you’re wanting to achieve;
  • Ensure you are eligible — thoroughly read the selection criteria. If you’re not eligible, don’t waste your time by submitting an ineligible application. A lot of grants have checklists you can refer to, so make use of these;
  • Support your statements — hyperbole is the enemy of grant applications. Providing quality, well-organised support material will give you credibility and make the assessor’s’ job much easier;
  • Prove your need for support — why do you need a grant? What relevant or critical outcomes are likely to eventuate and how do they align with the assessment criteria?
  • Research other recipients — while you don’t want to copy others, it’s good to learn from others and know what makes them stand apart;
  • Meet deadlines. With so much competition for grants, it’s not worth risking a deadline extension request. It can be handy to prepare a grant application calendar as part of your annual strategy planning; 
  • Treat the application as a top priority. If you’re delegating the task to someone else, make sure all relevant stakeholders have looked it over. Take the time to be clear and concise and proofread all components; and
  • Finally, you might want to consider taking on the services of a grant writing consultant.

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Carly Greenwood

Carly Greenwood is SmartCompany's content marketing manager.

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