The Shepherd Centre, which runs family services in the Sydney suburb of Newtown, took top honours at the inaugural Sydney City Business Awards in July. The centre won in the Excellence in Business, Employer of Choice and the Business of the Year categories of the awards, which are sponsored by the City of Sydney.
The publicity the centre received in the media and on the City of Sydney’s website is an example of how small businesses can take advantage of opportunities without spending a cent themselves.
There are a number of ways to enhance your small business both financially and in terms of exposure. We take a look at four of them.
1. Competitions and awards for SMEs
Businesses are usually nominated for awards, so it’s important to keep track of when nominations are due and make sure you are nominated. Nominations may be for a person or the business itself. For example, the NSW Business Chamber Business Awards has individual categories that include Business Leader and Young Entrepreneur. Interestingly, there is also an Excellence in Sustainability award. This is a great category to win, since the environment is uppermost in many consumers’ minds.
One way to achieve sustainability is to aim for a paperless office. Getting rid of the fax machine and replacing it with virtual faxing from your computer is a step in this direction. You can send a fax online in Australia or globally using email to fax technology.
Fax documents are sent as attachments to emails which are addressed to the recipient’s fax number. Online fax also allows you to send much bigger files – up to 1GB – than you would normally be able to send through your email server. And of course, there’s no paper and no ink cartridges to replace – which equals better sustainability and also cost savings.
2. Grant opportunities for small business in Sydney
A quick look at the NSW section of the Australia Business Grants site reveals six grant opportunities, including up to $100,000 in grants for technology, and up to $500 for the installation of safety equipment, but the City of Sydney is stepping up its support too.
The City provides grants for four types of project – business, environment, cultural and community. Within the business category, there are grants for innovation, business improvement grants, and grants that show that a business is contributing to the improvement of a shopping district, notably in Oxford Street and Kings Cross.
Grants for renovating shopfronts and even adding acoustic baffling to live music venues are available as the City looks to attract more visitors to these entertainment precincts.
3. Tax incentives for small businesses
The federal government’s $20,000 tax write-off for small business equipment in the 2015 budget is designed to have a stimulating affect on businesses across the country. The immediate access to the money means new businesses don’t have to wait until they become solvent before buying equipment. Similarly, the government’s R&D Tax Incentive means that you may be able to offset the cost of research and development against tax if your business is eligible.
4. Assistance for start-ups in Sydney
According to 2012 figures from PwC, 64 per cent of Australia’s new start-ups were in Sydney that year. In response to this, the City of Sydney has launched a Tech Startups Action Plan, which looks at ways the City can be “a meaningful part of the tech start-up community.” Involvement in this plan – the City is now looking for feedback – is one way of getting your tech-based start-up in the loop for when assistance becomes available.
Opportunities are not always financial, and businesses need to get involved in the community and in the business culture within which they operate. By taking advantage of competitions and awards, tax breaks and grants, you can help your small business grow without the need for another injection of funds.