Supporting Australian small businesses to grow and take advantage of new digital opportunities is the focus of a new funding round opened this week.
The Australian Small Business Advisory Services (ASBAS) Digital Solutions will deliver low cost, high-quality digital advisory services to small-business employers, providing up to $18 million over three years from 2 July 2018 to 30 June 2021.
Minister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation, Craig Laundy, said these services would help employers capitalise on new opportunities available in the digital economy.
“In today’s evolving digital world, businesses must adapt to engage in the online environment or risk being left behind,” Minister Laundy said.
“Under this initiative, small-business owners will have access to specialist advisers who can help fast-track their online capability. They will receive training, expert advice and the targeted support they need to help boost their business online.
“It’s not easy to run a business and find the time to get across the technical nature of online services. These digital solutions will offer employers guidance and support to become more digitally savvy and help expand their businesses to new markets.
“The Government recognises the importance the small-business sector plays in supporting over 5.6 million jobs and generating and sustaining growth, and delivering prosperity for all Australians. We are committed to creating an environment where every small business can reach their potential.”
The Australian Small Business Advisory Services program has a strong record of focusing on the issues that matter to small business owners across the country.
“With a new focus on digital advisory services, the Government is committed to supporting small business to innovate, provide new services and continue to create the jobs that drive our economy,” Minister Laundy said.
“I’m pleased that regional areas will also benefit from this opportunity, which otherwise would not have access to such professional business support.”
Specialist advisers will be available in various ways including face-to-face meetings and workshops, phone calls, online video calls, webchats and interactive webinars.
Services will include assessment of small businesses’ needs, tailored digital engagement plans and advisory support to one or more of the priority digital capabilities:
In response to the announcement Tim Reed, CEO of MYOB, said, “We are pleased to see the announcement from the Federal Government committing up to $18 million towards digital advisory services to small-business employers over the next three years. From our own MYOB research, we know that SMEs have previously risked being left behind in the innovation race due to perceived costs of introducing and developing innovation (29 per cent), lack of government support (25 per cent) and too much regulation (26 per cent).
“Today’s announcement is welcome relief for small businesses keen to improve their technological offerings but struggling to commit resources and expertise. It is encouraging to see investment such as this which will help drive innovation and ultimately lead to a vibrant small business community in Australia,” Reed added.
Applications for ASBAS grants are now open and applicants will be required to demonstrate they can provide services related to websites and selling online; social media and digital marketing; using small business software; and online security and data privacy.
Applications for ASBAS grants opened on 23 January 2018 and close on 6 March 2018. For more information and to apply visit: www.business.gov.au/asbas or call 13 28 46.