The COVID-19 outbreak has created difficulties for thousands of small businesses across Australia and the state of Queensland. Many small business owners have seen revenue halve and are now faced with the unenviable task of trying to balance existing financial commitments against an uncertain future.
To help companies survive, the Queensland State Government announced in May 2020 that it was making funding available to help small business owners sustain their operations and build resilience against future outbreaks. This initiative is called the Small Business COVID-19 Adaption Grant.
What is the Small Business COVID-19 Adaption grant?
The grant forms part of the Small Business Digital Grants program which has previously been used to help small business owners make use of new technologies such as digital marketing, websites and mobile apps. The initiative was launched way back in 2016 but the last round of funding closed in December 2019.
But with the onset of COVID-19, the Queensland State Government announced that it would be opening up a new round of funding to help companies cope with difficulties caused by the pandemic. Unlike previous schemes, however, this new round of funding does not require business owners to match funding with their own contribution.
How much money is available?
The State committed $100 million in funding to Round-1 of the scheme in May 2020. This provided Individual grants of between $2000 – $10,000 (excluding GST). Because Round-1 was oversubscribed very quickly, Round-2 was launched in July 2020 which provides a further $100 million to qualifying companies.
To obtain a grant, business owners must show which digital services or products will be procured and how they will be used to enhance the capabilities of their business. This sounds complicated, but don’t worry, the experienced marketing professionals at Coral Creative can help by creating a report to highlight which marketing solutions and digital services will be most effective for your business.
This detailed report will include a budget and an accurate assessment of how these products will help your business become more efficient and profitable. Including a report like this with your application will greatly improve the chances of your grant being approved.
To find out more about how Coral Creative can help complete the contact form here.
What can the grant be used for?
The COVID-19 grant can be used to pay for a wide range of products and services including:
- Financial and legal advice which specifically supports the sustainability and diversification of the business.
- Strategic planning aligned to help businesses grow and diversify.
- Marketing and communication activities such as (website development, content development, mobile apps and visual media creation.)
- Digital and technology marketing strategy development.
- Digital and IT training to ensure companies have the skills to compete over the coming years.
- Any costs incurred to meet new COVID-19 SAFE requirements.
- Any specialised equipment or software needed to make businesses more efficient. (e.g. CRM software, marketing automation software, online payment software).
- Any specialized equipment or services needed to move your business operations online.
- Any costs needed to meet regular business expenses including rent, business rates, utilities etc.
What digital products and services are covered?
The State has not specified which digital services are covered. Only that the digital product or service must enhance the capabilities of your business. This means it must help you to become more efficient or competitive in today’s fast-moving business environment.
In practical terms, this means you can use the grant to pay for a new website, but only if it provides more capabilities than your current website. With the speed at which web technologies have developed over the past few years, this should be a fairly rudimentary exercise for most businesses.
One example could be integrating live chat on your website to help increase conversion rates. Or it could include more complex solutions such as providing online eCommerce capabilities and integrating them with back-office CRM software. Anything that adds to the capabilities of your company to help it grow is covered by the grant.
Can the grant also be used for marketing?
Yes, marketing is a great way of getting the word out about your business and can help you grow and become more competitive. The scheme is not specific about which types of marketing are covered. But the experts at Coral Creative can provide advice about any of the following areas of digital marketing.
- Integrated digital campaign development
- Social media marketing
- Search engine optimisation
- Content creation (web pages, blog posts etc.)
- Online payment integration
- Marketing specific software (marketing automation etc.)
- Campaign scheduling and management.
Can it be used to cover the cost of training?
Yes, up to 20% of your grant can be used to pay for training to ensure you and your staff have the skills needed to operate effectively in a digital world. Examples of training include how to build and manage an effective digital marketing campaign, how to update content using a CMS such as WordPress and to use keyword research to dictate content.
The digital experts at Coral Creative can work with you to create an in-house training scheme specific to the needs of your business. This will equip you and your staff with the skills needed to make the best use of powerful digital marketing systems such as email marketing, social media engagement and Pay Per Click advertising.
What’s not covered?
The following activities are not eligible for funding under the current scheme:
Any projects with a total cost of less than $2000.
Any business costs which are covered by existing Queensland and Commonwealth Government grants or assistance.
The salaries, wages or expenses of employees including WorkCover or Superannuation costs.
Any services delivered in-kind. (funding can only be used for services which are paid for traditionally).
The grant cannot be used to purchase business assets such as stock or a vehicle/machinery.
Funds cannot be used to pay for services or goods provided by a related party. This includes services provided by companies with common shareholdings/ directorships who are also immediate family members of the applicant.
Funds cannot be used to support a direct selling business where the sales of goods take place inside the customers home or workplace. This includes companies which operate network marketing or party plan type activities.
Funds cannot be used to pay for any goods or services bought before 23 March 2020.
Is your business eligible?
The scheme is open to any qualifying small business based in Queensland that can show that the digital product or service purchased will enhance the capabilities of their business.
To be eligible for the grant your business meet the following criteria:
- Your business must have been impacted by the restrictions announced on 23 March 2020 by the Chief Health Officer of Queensland.
- You must have experienced a minimum decline in revenue of 30% since 23 March 2020. The decline must have lasted for a minimum of 1-month.
- At the time of submitting your grant application, you must have fewer than 20 total employees.
- Your business must be registered for GST and have an Australian Business Number (ABN).
- Your business must be based/headquartered in Queensland.
- For the last financial year, you must have an annual turnover of more than $75,000.
- You must have a payroll of less than $1.3 million for the last financial year.
- Your business must not be insolvent or have any insolvency petitions against it.
- No current owners/directors should be declared as undischarged bankrupts.
Any business applying for a grant must also be prepared to take part in a survey and provide evidence of how the funds were spent. This survey will take place 12 months after the grant has been approved and should include information about what impact the grant had on your business.
Each qualifying business is also only permitted to apply for a single grant each financial year. The business must also be in a position to pay for the approved product or service in full, before being reimbursed by the scheme.
Small Business COVID-19 assessment process
Because funding is limited, in addition to meeting the above criteria, applications will also be assessed on the impact funding will have in terms of revenue growth, increased employment and efficiency gains for the business.
Each application will, therefore, be assessed on the following criteria:
- How will the new digital technology or service impact revenue growth, profit and efficiency?
- You should also show how each technology or service will enhance the capability of the company, making it more competitive.
- You should estimate how much jobs growth the new technology will deliver.
- Projects which represent the best value for money will be prioritised for funding.
All estimates should be based on data from your business and be accurate. So you can’t use average estimates for Pay-Per-Click conversions, for example. You should establish what the conversion rate is for your business before applying for a grant. The experts at Coral Creative can help you compile accurate data for your business.
When will you receive funds?
Grants are paid once the or product or service has been delivered and paid for upfront. To receive funding, you will have to supply proof of delivery and payment for the product or service provided. Once this is received, payment is made directly into your business bank account. The amount you receive will be adjusted to compensate for any GST.
When does the application close?
Round 1 of the scheme was oversubscribed and has already closed. Queensland State Government, therefore, extended the scheme with the opening of Round 2 on 1 July 2020. There is currently no closing date for applications, but the scheme will likely be closed once funding has run out.
With a current commitment of just $100 million available, competition for funds is likely to be intense, so you should apply for a grant as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
How do you apply?
You can apply for a grant by completing the following 4 step application process:
1. First, you must check to make sure your company is eligible for a grant. You can do that by completing the questionnaire here.
2. Next, you should think about which digital products or services you can deploy to make your online business more efficient and generate growth. The digital marketing experts at Coral Creative can help here.
3. You must then compile realistic and accurate data to show how these services will benefit your company. Once again, Coral Creative marketing experts can create accurate projections for each marketing activity.
4. When you are ready, you need to complete the online application form found here and wait to see if you have been successful.
How we can help you get funding?
With thousands of companies applying for funds, you must get your application in early. The digital marketing experts at Coral Creative can help you obtain a grant for the following website design and digital marketing services which are eligible for funding under the scheme.
- WordPress Website design and development.
- User experience/interface design – Understand how your customers interact with your website.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
- Web content creation – Including blog posts or landing pages.
- Training – We can show you how to create and manage effective digital campaigns.
- Consultancy & strategy – We can help formulate a winning digital strategy to increase both sales and ROI.
Get in touch today
By using professional website design, Gold Coast companies can build a more efficient and profitable business. Previously, many small business owners put off making the investment required to take advantage of online technologies. But, with government grants now available, there is no time like the present to make the move.
Our team can help you obtain COVID-19 funding by creating a viable and proven digital strategy to transform your online business. We can also create the assets needed to transform your online presence including creating a new website, integrated social media channels and developing online marketing campaigns.
So don’t let COVID-19 destroy all the hard work spent building your business. Use it as an opportunity to invest in new digital technologies. This will help you build a more efficient and profitable company capable of thriving when the world gets back on its feet. Get in touch with us today by completing the contact form here or give us a call on 0467029760.