August 31, 2022
E24 How to Get Small Business Grants with Robyn Baker
Planning to start up a small business? Looking for ways to increase fund for it? Then this episode is perfect for you!
Don’t you know that there’s money out there to put into your business? Get to know everything about business grants and what difference it can make to help you build up that business.
In this episode, we meet the passionate Robyn Baker, who was employed for 20 years with the Brisbane city council in marketing and communications areas, specializing in stakeholder and community engagement. She’s been a volunteer for over 35 years with many organizations supporting domestic violence, victims, homeless, and the environment.
-How to Get Small Business Grants
-Difference made by Grants
-Strategies for Business Planning through Grants
-Quality Grant Application
-Difference Between Grant and Tender
-Adaptation Grant and Funding
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Note: this transcript was generated automatically. It’s accuracy may vary.
[00:00:00] Did you know that there’s a good chance you are eligible for free money in your business, close your eyes if it’s safe to do so, and imagine your wishlist for your business, what do you want? Do you wanna expand your team so you can have more time off? Do you want a new computer, a fancy phone? Do you want someone to take care of your podcasts and social media intent?
whatever it is. Most of us keep grinding away without realizing that there is financial help available. So, how do you get your hands on this help today? I’m talking to the best person. I know who’s an expert on grants and that is Robin baker. So remember all advice is general in nature today. So reach out directly to an expert to get specific advice for your situation.
But if you’re interested in free money, This episode is for you. Welcome to magnetic pod. If you were looking to attract your sole clients while doing the work you love, this show is for you hack. I’m gonna leave you to [00:01:00] SU. I’m a podcast manager and content repurposing specialist. The magnetic pod show is about attracting your sole pod of clients through podcasting.
It will also include things that can be applied to other areas of your marketing strategy, too. Hit subscribe to join me in calling the people we are here to help. Let’s make a massive impact. I brave
people. Hey friend, before we dive into today’s episode, remember to hit subscribe. So you don’t miss any of the tips we share in magnetic pod on podcasting lead generation and business boosting ideas. And remember if you have, or you are thinking about starting a podcast, head over to my website at living music, media.com.
For slash freebees. I have loads and loads of free resources and templates that will help you get started. The link is in my [00:02:00] show notes. Now here’s your show. Hello, Robin. Welcome. Hello. Thank you for having me such a pleasure. It’s been a while I’ve been looking forward to catching up, so I’ll introduce you.
Shall I? Yeah, sure. So Robin baker has been employed for 20 years or was employed for 20 years with the Brisbane city council in marketing and communications areas, specializing in stakeholder and community engagement. She’s been a passionate volunteer for over 35 years with many organizations supporting domestic violence, victims, homeless, and the environment.
And these days she runs. Busy connecting up. And she started that after realizing that SMEs were missing out on not having someone look at them individually, rather than just applying a one size fits call strategy. So, and I can say having had a meeting with you that, um, You are very generous with your knowledge and your, your help.
Thank you. And she’s won like a gazillion awards [00:03:00] as well, so very well recognized for what she does and deservedly, so, so welcome. Thank you. So how did you briefly said here that you started busy connecting after realizing that. The need for it, but do you wanna explain a bit more? Yeah, sure. So I worked in the Brisbane city council from 1980 to 2000.
And after that I did contract and, you know, free work in the community, um, in the grant and tender space, cuz that’s what I’ve always done for over 40 years. And I had this conversation. Oh, probably about seven years ago with some of the corporate guys that I was working with, that the services that we were supplying to large companies, you know, medium and really to really very large organizations.
Nobody does that in a smaller space. Nobody does that for startups and small businesses, you know, little mum [00:04:00] and dad, businesses and stuff. And some of the businesses that we worked with that became large organizations over like a 15 year period. They were mum and dad businesses when we started with them.
But, you know, I suppose the guys that I was working with, then they were starting out too. So we all grew together. And I sort of said, you know, going back to our roots, nobody, nobody out there does that. I couldn’t see any, you know, like I had a lot of friends in business and they used to tap into my services and I’d give them advice and things like that, but nobody was out there specifically doing it.
And I sort of said to them, you know, like you get to an age where you think what’s my legacy in life, you know, are my kids just gonna look at me and. She just used to write stuff on the computer. I dunno what she did. And I, I sort of went back to when I used to help, you know, and I always have done, but when I was more focused on my kids being at school and doing stuff for them, I did a lot of community stuff, a lot of stuff for our school and things like that.
And people were always coming to me to use my [00:05:00] services for free. Of course. And I sort of thought, you know, my kids never really recognize that at that age. And I thought I’d like them to know more about what I do now. And I’d like to give back and touch more people. And how do I do that? You know, like you can go out and you can volunteer for somewhere and help out with them, which is what I was doing physically.
But I saw that when, when I helped them apply for a grant. It helped. So, so many more people. So I sort of thought that’s probably where I need to be helping out more. And I sort of said to these guys, you know, like I’d love to like my part of the organization, I’d love to dedicate to that. And they were sort of, you know, and I understand, you know, they were only sort of in their early forties and, you know, they had bills to pay and they were like, we’re not gonna make money out of that.
If you wanna do that as a side thing, do that as a side thing, but we are really, that’s not where we wanna focus. so I sort of said, okay, and tossed it around with a few people and then thought, you know, what the heck I might as well give this a go. [00:06:00] So I jumped in boots and all I knew that I could always fall back to my safe place if I really needed to.
And I still do contract on really big applications for tinders, mostly because that’s where our money really generates from. As I got talking to different, small businesses that didn’t know. There were grants and funding out there. And I was always having this conversation with guys that I knew in go.
And government officials and they were always saying, we’ve got all this money and, and nobody wants it, but the problem was, they didn’t know how to access it and navigate it. So I sort of thought, you know, that’s, that’s my point of difference. I’ve assessed these. I can write really good applications. I know I can write very successful ones.
So, yeah. So I went out on my own and I haven’t looked back and probably a gift of COVID, you know, like. I’m on the end of rotten. COVID a gift it’s probably given us, is that all of a sudden, everybody knows what I’ve been talking about for so long. You know, all of a sudden, everybody knows what a grant is and, and what difference that can [00:07:00] make to your business and, and how that can just keep you ticking over in times that are tough and how it can also be used as a growth strategy for a business.
that’s staggering to me, the idea that there are people out there going, I’ve got all this money and nobody wants it. It’s like, , it’s a common discussion with government officials. It’s like, nobody wants this. You know, nobody applies for it. And. They do. They just, well, throughout, throughout COVID when everybody was applying the discussions we were having, because I’ve always been in that space where I’ve contract assessing as well for grants and tenders.
And we were having that conversation that nobody was getting it right. And I said, you need to fix up your portals and the systems. So the one good thing that’s kind of come outta that is having those conversations and they have updated systems that have been around. Uh, when they all went online was probably mid to late nineties.
Um, when stuff started going online. So a lot of the stuff we [00:08:00] see, you know, that, that are in the portals. A lot of those portals that are there have been there for a very long time and they they’ve been okay. But a lot of the. It has grown and increased since then. And they haven’t kept up to date with it.
So keeping up that filter up to date and things like that, that has really helped. And having those discussions about how they can improve their portals to filter out applications, you know, like it’s like the questions you answer now, are you registered for GST? If it’s one that requires GST and you say, no, it says, sorry, you’re not eligible for this application.
Well, that was never there. That used to go through to people to actually manage. That. So it, it saves a lot of people time that the applications that get through are the ones that are meeting that criteria. And then when a person sits down to look at it, they’re looking at an application that meets the criteria.
So then they’re looking at the quality of what’s being offered in that project. So the systems of the people that offer. Offer the money. Yes. They have improved. [00:09:00] Yeah. I’ve been noticing that they’ve improved dramatically, which is fantastic. The loading up of information, they’ve improved that as well.
They still get it wrong. Sometimes we had, we had some glitches earlier on in the year with the smarty grants portal, but I think they’ve kind of fixed that now by the looks of it. But, but you know, that that still happens. You know, you are working with tech, so that’s still gonna happen, but it’s definitely.
It it’s way improved on what it was three to five years. So was it, who was it that said you won’t make money out out of that? well, I mean, that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s the corporate world where, um, you know, you’re paying, you know, you’re paying for offices and you’re paying for staff and you’re paying for all these things.
So you’ve got a lot of overheads, so you’ve gotta look at how much you are charging and how many people you need to bring in for that cost. So when you can do a tender and you can bring. Quite a substantial amount of money in a [00:10:00] week, basically doing grants, tender writers. So a grant writer can’t necessarily be a tender writer, but a tender writer can always be a grant writer.
So it’s a strategy and it’s, it’s a it’s, it’s the way you look at things. You know, there’s a, it is a certain personality type that write grants and tenders. Not everybody can. Even though some people think everybody can not, everyone can easy ones anyone can do. And that’s why I give that information for free on my group is to try and get as many people as applying for those easy ones as they can.
So if someone money and they need to get more grants and they want to basically, if they want, they can get you to help them. Does that, does that getting the grant? Does that end up, I guess that would end. At some point probably paying, paying for you, I guess is how it works. Yeah. Grant work is sort of token.
So as tender riders, we used to do grant work and that was our charity to give back, basically, even if it was for small businesses, it was a bit of a give [00:11:00] back because when you look at, I suppose, um, how could I, what comparison could I use? You know, if, if you are looking at somebody, say you go to a doctor and you go to your GP, your GPS gonna charge a set price.
If you go to a specialist, all the specialists are gonna charge their own price. So it’s, it’s the bit of that difference. It’s bit difference between a GP and then somebody specializing specifically in something. And that’s the, the difference between grants and tenders, you know, grants sort of. In a few thousand, some of them are a few hundred dollars up to, and you can go up to hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars with grants.
We’ve even got million dollar grants. Now, whereas tenders tenders do start in the hundreds of thousands and they go up to, well, we’ve got one at the moment that I’m working on with a team and it’s a trillion dollar one. It goes for years, we’re working on it. So that’s, that’s in the tender space. So tender space is, and when you think tenders.
Think of, if you’re building a building, [00:12:00] everything that goes in that building would have to be tendered for. So the concrete that goes down, the, the, the structure to hold the building up, the cladding that goes on the building, the air conditioning systems, the water systems, the, the plumbing and all that.
Everybody would have to tender for all those different jobs. So that’s, that’s the kind of thing that would be a tender work, any road that gets built, they all tender for those projects, whereas grants. So, so tenders are about a specific thing. So somebody who puts a tender out, they put it out and they say, this is what we want.
What can you deliver? and how much can you deliver it for grants are different grants are, this is how much money we wanna spend on say digital for your business. Tell us what your project’s about. That’s more what a Grant’s for thinking grants are where it’s at for, probably for grants are where my listening, like it’s like giving me money.
Whereas tenders are more like tendering for however,[00:13:00]
yeah. Even some of the small businesses that I started with, oh, nearly seven years ago. The little guys that I started with with. Small entity of busy connecting. Some of those now are tendering. So some of those mum and dad businesses, like I’ve got one of, one of my pride and joy little businesses was a mum and dad pressure cleaning business.
And they were just putting in for odd grants here and there. And now we are putting in for million dollar tenderers with them. So they they’ve grown their business or the lack of grant funding. You know, they start out with grant funding, we got some employment funding set up as well, different things like that, that they could then get more employees in their business.
They could buy then more efficient equipment. So they’re the only guys in Australia have, who have this super quiet. They do industrial. High pressure cleaning. So, you know, all the stuff that goes on at night, Tom, when I sleep, you know, cleaning bus stops and [00:14:00] footpaths and things like that, that’s what they’re doing.
And it’s, it’s very quiet. The machinery that they use, you can talk over the top of it. It’s just super quiet. So yeah. And they’re, they’re blazing a trail in their field and they started off with grants. They grew. Business. And we had a strategy around that and as their business grew, they could then apply for grants.
So, you know, there’s, there are tenders in art and music and, um, writing, uh, creative writing. There are tenders out there for that, but you have to be a certain size of business with certain things in place before you could do that. And you could grow from applying for grants to get into that space. If that’s what you were looking.
Hmm, that sounds interesting. So you start with the, if you’re starting from the beginning, you probably start from the grants build and build up and get to a point where you are big enough to go for these big tenders and win. Then you’re winning big jobs and big money in that way. So they’re two different aspects.
So, yeah, [00:15:00] so I guess it sounds like. Uh, there’s a lot of people leaving money on the table. So shall I’m just thinking of the people listening here, how can we tell them what kind of where’s the money what’s being? What are the opportunities I look this morning? Yep. I looked this morning at, at the moment currently in Australia, there’s 102 billion in grant funding.
Grant funding alone for what kind of things, what kind of things could people get money for you name it? Um, so, uh, podcasting, uh, yeah. Yeah.
with grants are that isn’t there all the time. So when you go to look. You’ll find one. And, and what happens nine times outta 10? You’ll find one and you’ll go, it closes in two days. Never do a rush application, cuz Grant’s always work in round. So you can come back and revisit it maybe three months, six months, 12 months time.
So you get a bit of a strategy happening of these are the things that suit my business. [00:16:00] And this is when I should be applying so that you can get that information and you can get everything that’s needed together that you can put in a quality application because putting in applications for the sake of it will sometimes flag you in portals that you know, like, yeah, no, like you’ll get a no.
So, so you wanna be putting in quality applications. You don’t wanna be put in applications just for the sake of doing it. So you have to bear in mind. It’s not a cash flow solution. So sometimes it can take four months for them to assess a grant. And then let everybody know who’s, who’s won it and who hasn’t, who’s successful and who’s not.
So it’s not a cash flow solution. However, if you put a calendar together and you’re applying, you’ve then got odds running with you that you’ve got better odds. And at the moment, that’s what it is. It used to be a high quality. Applications really good projects. They would automatically get over the line, but it’s really a numbers game at the moment because now that everybody knows about ’em, everybody is [00:17:00] applying and you’re up against you and you it’s like going for a job.
You never know who you’re up against or what they’re offering. But if you put in the best quality application, you know, you’ve put that best quality application in, you know, that you can compete at least. So does that mean it starts off. Research before you can actually reap the benefits in this. If you’re looking, you’re likely to see something that is about to expire and you may not be able to do anything building out your calendar.
So the first year might be largely building out your calendar and not applying for well and applying for what comes up and what feels right. Um, the adoption grants have been fantastic and there’s still a lot of those around. There’s still that. The what grants, adaption grants, you know, like adapting to the changes with COVID and COVID summary to that grants, they call them adaption grants.
Um, so it’s adapting your business because a lot of people have had to change what their business is. And so it’s using those things and podcasting became a big thing and that’s where podcasting there’s [00:18:00] funding there for that. Digital funding. There’s specific funding when it comes down to, if you’re in, you know, a niche sort of thing, depending on if you’re writing the history on somebody in particular in Australia, there’s, there’s specific funding for things like that.
And then there’s. More generalized funding if you’ve suffered floods or fires or any of those things that we have in Australia, there’s always recovery funding. So that’s always there. I know there was one there’s one in Victoria for instance, um, that expires, I think it’s on the 30th of August and it’s still about the recovery businesses from recovery in the CBD and the inner city area.
So I’m, I’m just trying to think of all the applications I’ve got. Tourism application funding, there’s funding for tourism there’s funding for mental health. Basically you name it, there’s funding there. The only funding you can’t get is if you’re selling something like, say Tupperware, if you’re selling any of that network sort of stuff, you know, I don’t know, like Tupperware or, or [00:19:00] aromatherapy oils or whatever else, that’s the only thing you would not get funding for, but there’s funding for everything.
And sometimes there’s funding. You don’t necessarily have to be GST registered to get funding. So sometimes that’s available as well, but I usually work with a strategy with anybody who maybe isn’t is a sole trader and not necessarily registered GST yet. I sometimes work with them. I. For example, I’ve got a guy, um, who does websites.
And when I first started working with him, he wasn’t eligible and it was just him and his wife in the business. But we looked at all his clients and said, well, how many of your clients can use your service? Let’s look at funding for them and let’s get funding for them to use your service. So now he is registered and he’s got 60 employees.
And that’s the difference that it. To his business, you know? Wow. That’s interesting. You say that’s a motivation to help your clients to have the money to spend with you, but also how much of. Is that a big thing? The [00:20:00] whole GST registered. Is that a big hurdle that if you don’t have that, you’re, you are not eligible for a lot.
Yeah. It, it’s not a big hurdle, but there’s a lot more grants funding. If you are GST registered or if you’re not for profit and you’re incorporated, there’s a lot more funding there for you and for those GST registered and the. Reason that that’s come about is that some people have been getting funding and haven’t been spending it on what they should be spending it on.
And that all then comes down to the acquittal process because at the end, if you haven’t spent that funding on what you are supposed to spend it on, you have to pay it back. And there’s sometimes huge fines and you might never be able to apply for another one. So it’s always a, you know, what you would put in for and what can happen with some of my clients, they have that many applications and they have that much.
That we are watching each project individually very carefully that make sure we, we are meeting the guidelines for that project before we meet the guidelines for the next one sort of thing, so that you don’t make that mistake. But yeah, unfortunately there was a time there [00:21:00] for a while that people were taking the money and going, oh, I’m not gonna spend it on that.
I’ll spend it on this. So, and the other thing is, you know, when they’re not GST registered, it’s a lot easier to dissolve and disappear. So that’s sort of part of the, you know, there were a lot of, lot of different, um, factors that came into it, but yeah, and that’s why a lot of government funding will look for you to be GST registered, especially if it’s federal funding.
Hmm. Okay. Well, I guess that’s a shame for the smaller, smaller guys, but there’s still, there’s still stuff out there for micros. We’ve just gotta look a bit harder. Mm-hmm and so what’s the biggest problem you see with people who. Who that you, who you help the biggest challenge? The biggest challenge, the biggest challenge is educating people, um, on what’s needed and what’s required.
And I suppose some of the hurdles that I see and, um, my colleagues and I have. Actually been discussing a lot lately is a lot of, there has been a lot of [00:22:00] pivoting and changing through COVID and there’s a lot of people out there who might have got an adaption grant through or something simple for a school or a community group.
And now they call themselves a grant writer. So it’s educating people to be very careful that who you are dealing with is an actual professional grant writer. And not just somebody with a pen that says that they can write grants for you. They can charge a phenomenal amount. So what I see in my business, I get a lot of people who come to me and they’ve paid somebody a lot of money.
And then all of a sudden through the process realize probably they’re not what they said. They were ILA. A lot of money had a lot of an applications not being successful. And, and they’ve got no recourse. That’s, that’s it? You know, so. I suppose educating people about the system and how it works. And that’s why I set up that group that I have.
That’s a free group that anyone can join. Um, so sad if people wanna find. I’ll give you the link for it. Mm-hmm but it’s a Facebook group. So if you look up busy [00:23:00] connecting and it’s, I think it’s Grant’s info, I think is that one. Cause I’ve got quite a few groups, but I think that one’s called Grant’s info, but you’ll see, you’ll come through there’s about 500 or so in there.
It’s for people who have never applied before and don’t know anything about it and what’s available and they can ask questions on there. So it’s a group and we keep it all very closed in house between. You know, and so, so that’s the sort of issue plus others come to me and go, do you take a percentage of the grant?
And I always say to them, anybody who says that run for the Hills, because you’ll have triple C or one of those organizations hot on your heels. Because it’s a, um, and BX government, I’m very conscious of that. It’s sort of that inference that could be collusion and I can get you a grant. And that’s why I’m taking a percentage.
It’s a fee for service. And it’s simple as that. Mm-hmm so my advice would be to package, get them to package it for you because sometimes. What they’ll do is they’ll give you an hour rate, but their hourly rate will be 10 times more than anybody else’s, but they’ll [00:24:00] burn that down in all different ways.
Some of the hurdles, when people come to me is just getting them to set up a budget. A grant is a project. So think about it as a project. Think about the things that you’re gonna spend money on in your business. And then look for those grants that are directed for that. Don’t find a grant and then go, how can I make a project fit that grant that will.
It it’s never successful. It never works very well. But if you’ve got things that, you know, like you wanna upgrade your computer, or, you know, you wanna put some sort of infrastructure into your business or, or some sort of things that your business needs, and you’re going to be buying those in the next 12 months to two years, then look and see if there’s a grant for that.
Because if you can get a grant for it, even if you can get it matched funding, even then that’s money from your business that you can take then and put somewhere else into your business to help your business. And how can people find where the grants are? Okay. So Google is your friend. So I always say when anyone’s studying out, [00:25:00] you can just Google.
So Google, what you’re thinking about. Uh, and you could Google, I don’t know, give me an example of somebody that you might think. And I, I guess, Podcast grants Australia. . So if you Googled digital, if you Googled podcasting and you gr Google grant funding, then when you get through the Google, skip down through all the ads at the top, cuz that’ll be two people looking for your business and or selling you what you don’t necessarily want.
Go down through the ads and then find what’s available. and you’ll find there’s probably a link to, at one of the government portals and things like that. So what my suggestion is at that point, before you click on anything, have a junk mail email set up in the background somewhere mm-hmm . And when you click on it and it asks for email in your details, give it that email, because then with your general email for your business, you’re not getting hundreds of emails about grant.
And that which, which you might want initially, [00:26:00] but it can be annoying after a while. So if you’ve got a junk email where you can park them all. Yeah. And then once a month, once a week, whenever you want to you, or you’ve got, say an hour in your business to speak, you can go into that junk email and filter through.
If there’s anything that’s there for you. And you can start setting up a bit of a calendar offer that we have a business that we. Also engage and deal with, and we refer our clients to, because what we used to do is between clients. We used to find grants for those ones, that there were our repeat clients.
Um, but we just don’t have time. Now we just basically writing full time. So we have an organization that just will look for you specifically, and they have a fairly low standard rate to try and find you those. And they’re called find a grant. So, but I was. Try and find them yourself first before, like, I, I try to educate everybody before you pay for anything.
Try and do it yourself first. And you know, one of the downfalls, sometimes with small [00:27:00] businesses, we are trying to do everything for ourselves, but sometimes it gives you a better understanding as well of what might be required and what you might need. And if you don’t feel like you’re quite ready to apply for one, then have a chat to somebody.
And most of us that are professionals, I. Most of my colleagues do it. We do a free 30 minute and I do a free 30 minute zoom, one on one zoom, uh, where you can on Wednesdays. And I think I’m booked out until the end of October at the moment. Cause they’re free where we can just, you know, you can, you can have found something.
We can discuss what your needs are, give you some direction where to. And it it’s, it’s not about getting business out of you. It’s about trying to help you direct your focus in that right place and, and where you might need to be. And, you know, some people come back and some people don’t and I’m okay with that.
Like, cuz I always say join, make sure you’re on my group because, uh, there’s a lot of discussion when some of the popular grants come up on there. That you can sort of then filter out what your [00:28:00] needs might be be and what might be important to you as well with funding. Okay. Well, unfortunately we running out of time.
So before we wrap up, is there anything that you wanna make sure that people know about before? Um, we do. I just want everyone to know that there there’s money out there. So there’s money out there to put into your business and with anything in your business, you should be planning and you should consider grants as a strategy for that planning within your business.
Because even if you pick up 10,000 or 15,000, it makes a huge difference to a small business. Mm-hmm . Absolutely. And how can people find you? Okay. My hashtag is the boring writer. Mm-hmm . So Google is your friend. Get on to Google, look Google with the hashtag in it, one word, the boring writer. And I’m also, my business name is busy connecting, so you can find me all over Facebook and LinkedIn.
And I’ve got Instagram that I post up on a regular basis. What grants are about to close, so you [00:29:00] can get your strategy going and things like that on there. Um, yeah, and my group. And I’ll give you that link for my. Because, um, I, that’s where I wanna educate as many people as possible what’s available and what they can and can’t do.
Okay, fantastic. And we will put all of that in the show notes. Thanks so much, Robin. No worries. So what were your key takeaways from today? Did it raise any questions? What would you like to know more about? Let me know you can contact me via social media or email. I don’t care which way you use. Just reach out to me.
I’d love to chat with you. And remember, you can get access to lots of free podcast resources. That’ll help you get started or help you improve your podcast at li music, media.com/freebees. Hit subscribe, cuz I wanna see you again, but for now go forth. Be the awesome person you are. Live the life you want to live and have fun.
You’ve got this. See you next time.[00:30:00]
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