Australia Government support for small business is substantial, as would become evident from the numerous programs we look at in this article.
Business Entry Point (BEP)
BEP is the major source of all government information, including support programs. It is a comprehensive directory of government laws, programs and also provides links to online transaction sites – for applications, registrations, returns and payments.
You could access all the programs outlined below through BEP Web site links.
Area Consultative Committees (ACC)
ACCs are non-profit, community-based organisations seeking local solutions to local problems. These volunteer organisations consist of local community members who have stakes in their respective communities. By partnering with Australian government, ACCs seek to disseminate information on government priorities and programmes for the benefit of business and the community.
ACCs help the communities access Australian government assistance to create opportunities to grow and diversify in their regions. Through community consultations, ACCs create Strategic Regional Plans that are in accordance with government priorities.
At the time of writing, there are 56 ACCs across Australia in rural, regional, remote and metropolitan communities. To locate your nearest ACC, log on to ACC Home page and scroll down to see links to states and territories. Click on your region for contact details of the ACCs in that region.
Business Enterprise Centres (BEC)
BEC Australia Incorporated is an associatinn that focuses on supporting the BECs and their members spread across all states of Australia. These centers in turn focus on micro and small business sectors.
BECs support individual entrepreneurs through
- Business Information e.g. demographic information by post code that could help you decide whether a particular locality has potential customers for your business
- Referrals to suitable consultants for particular matters
- Guidance on applicable government regulations
- Conducting business workshops
The countrywide network of BECs has the resources to provide confidential and competent business counseling services to entrepreneurs. Go to BEC Australia Inc. for locating the BEC nearest you.
Industry TechLink helps small businesses get started with new and emerging technologies. Experts in the field help you find technology information, products and people. Technology could help you achieve a competitive edge, not only nationally but also internationally.
Industry Techlink assistance could help you:
- Improve operations
- Develop new products
- Devise new methods of production
What kind of licenses would your business need? The requirements vary from business to business and region to region. You could of course go to your nearest BEC or other support provider and find out the requirements in person.
Or you could log on to Business Licensing Information Web site and click on your area in the map. Proceed by providing required information to find out what licenses you need.
Support to Women
Women.gov.au is a portal for women that serves as a directory of women-specific prrograms scattered across many departments and agencies. While not business-specific, the portal does have links to business-related information of value to women.
There are sections for Education & Training, Work & Employment and Money & Finance – for example. If you are a woman with business ideas, but do not have the know-how or money to pursue your ideas, you might find these links valuable.
Indigenous Business Australia (IBA)
IBA seeks to assist and enhance indigenous self-management and economic self-sufficiency. It invests directly in business opportunities.
IBA would invest in businesses that shows a clear evidence of long term commercial viability. The venture must show how specifically it would benefit local indigenous community through employment, training and income. Click on the ‘Business with IBA’ link in the top part of IBA Web site for fuller details.
Seminars and Workshops
The What’s On link on BEP pages would take you to a State/Territory selection page. Once you have selected a region, you would find a list of the current month programs scheduled for that region. The schedule would show the date, place and topic of each seminar or workshop. The NSW schedule for September 04 includes such topics as ‘Marketing’, ‘Business Planning’, ‘Income Tax, GST and record keeping’, ‘What works – problem solving workshop’ and many others.
Select the topic in which you want to develop skills or get fuller information. Click the topic link and get full details. This is an ideal way to to meet your current skill development or specific information requirement.
Participation in these sessions is also a good way to network and build valuable contacts.
Small Business Answers
AusIndustry funds the Small Business Anwers program. Under the program organisations are selected to provide on-the-ground help to access the full range of government assistance programs and information. The help is provided through face-to-face interactions, seminars, expos and field days.
To know about this program, select AusIndustry Products from the home page and select Small Business Answers.
New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS)
Switching from jobs to one’s own business could be a major transition. NEIS providers are specialists in helping job seekers start their own businesses. NEIS achieves this objective through:
- Training in small business management skills
- Training in small business plan development
- Supporting the job seeker through an NEIS allowance for 52 weeks
- Business support and mentoring during the first year of operations
NEIS selects program participants based on eligibility and viability of business ideas. Go the job network page of JobSearch to learn more about the program. This page also links to a map that helps you find your nearest NEIS provider.
SBECP and SBIP Programs
Australian Government funds organisations with necessary setup and capabilities to provide small business development programs in different regions.
Under the Small Business Enterprise Culture Program, projects for developing higher level skills such as strategic planning, financial management, marketing, human resource planning and e-business are funded. One-to-one or group mentoring services to new enterprises are also funded.
Small Business Incubator Program funds organisatins that set up infrastructure facilities for small businesses. These organisations assist start-up and developing new businesses by providing shared premises and business services, as well as intensive business advice and support.
Tenant businesses are provided with an initial place of operation and a supportive environment in which to grow their business, before graduating into the wider business community.
As an individual entrepreneur, you could approach your nearest BEC office to find where you could avail SBECP skills development or SBIP infrastructure assistance.