How to find free business help
In Australia there are many sources of general help for your business (too many perhaps), ranging from Federal and State or Territory agencies, through local government authorities to a plethora of general business consultants. For the purposes of this article we are not going to consider general business consultants.
There is one national initiative, plus state / territory initiatives that may also help you on a free and/or part-subsidised basis.
The purpose of this ‘101’ article is to introduce you to what I call the ‘no pressure / no obligation’ sources and initiatives. I would not expect any of the providers to pressure you into engaging their help.
These are the best places to start … there’s an amazing amount of topical and practical information buried away in these websites:
There is also one national not-for-profit organisation – BEC Australia– which supports a national network of Business Enterprise Centres [BEC]. Each BEC services a specific non-overlapping geographic area … so befriending your local BEC is worth investigating.
And finally there are the local government authorities [LGA] – 564 in Australia! So, find out what your LGA offers by giving them a call or dropping into the local office. A good conversation starter includes the words “ … economic development … “, because this is why you are seeking help in the first place, isn’t it?
The national initiative is the Federal Government’s Enterprise Connect. It includes a wide range of services, and one which has proved to be quite popular is the free Business Review. Very simply, if you are in a pre-qualified industry (and there are few which are not) then your minimum annual revenue must be in the range $750K - $1.5M, depending upon which industry you are in.
State / territory governments have their own initiatives, and you will need to deeply search their websites to find them. A good place to start is any link which includes the assistance , or, grants, or, funding words. In NSW, for example, Small Biz Connect is a service which is similar to Enterprise Connect’s Business Review.
Your local BEC should also know what is available, because some of them receive funding to deliver free and/or part-subsidised state / territory initiatives and services. And each BEC should also know what’s going on at the LGAs within the BEC’s geographic area.
We all need help / advice / guidance from time to time and the purpose of this ‘101’ article was to raise your awareness about where you can go in a relatively unencumbered way.
If you have any questions, then please post them here so that everyone can benefit from the answers. And remember no question is a dumb question … so please don’t be afraid to post.
John Groarke has been a management consultant for 32 years working for global and local firms in senior client-facing and back-office roles.
Currently, he is the Principal of a consulting firm that works with services and services-led enterprises to develop sustainable and profitable enterprises. His whole approach is a mentor-based one and clients include; consultants, professional advisors and services-oriented small businesses.
John provides business mentoring services to SME clients of the Australian Government's Enterprise Connect initiative. And he runs workshops on consulting / professional advisory and small business topics for some NSW Business Enterprise Centres.
In 2005, he decided to pursue a 'giving back' strategy and John's 'pro-bono dance card' includes; NSW Enterprise Workshop, Women in Film and Television NSW, and the Small Business Mentoring Service. John is a long-term supporter of the NSW Government's small business initiatives – previously Small Business September and MicroBiz Week – and now Small Biz Connect.
John knows that I can make a positive and valuable difference to service-oriented businesses. He can be found via www.jegmc.com.
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