How to Get that Grant to Grow Your Business - Winning Grant Strategies

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How to Get that Grant to Grow Your Business - Winning Strategies & Mistakes | Ep 18 Podcast

Have you been wanting to redevelop your website but just don’t have the money? Maybe you want to get professional help with your marketing, finance, or business strategy, or you’ve got some amazing project or piece of equipment that needs funding.

For most small business owners, applying for a government grant is seen as too hard or they don’t believe that anyone would want to give them money that they didn’t have to pay back.

In this episode, I have the pleasure of talking with experienced grant writer Julia Spicer, who has helped to bring almost $10 million to businesses and community organisations in regional Australia through her grant writing support. Julia is here to help take the pain out of applying for grants so you can get on with growing your business.

Government grants can open up so many opportunities for businesses and aren’t something you should be scared of applying for.

Which is why it’s time to talk about what goes into a successful grant application, the mistakes to avoid and the winning strategies to use, and where to go for help.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • What types of projects have been successful in gaining a grant and what made them stand out
  • How you decide whether you have a good idea that has a decent chance of being funded
  • What you need to include in your grant application and what is most important
  • How long it typically takes to write a grant application
  • How to overcome the biggest struggles small business owners have writing grant applications
  • Common reasons why grant applications fail
  • How to make your application stand out to ensure a higher chance of success
  • How professional grant writers work

Listen on your favourite podcast platform

Guest: Julia Spicer, Engage and Create Consulting

Julia Spicer is a vibrant rural woman. Founder of three regional businesses based in Goondiwindi, Qld - Engage & Create Consulting, The Goondiwindi Business Hub and recently The House; Julia's mission is to contribute to the vibrancy and viability of rural and regional Australia by helping businesses grow.

Through strategic planning, coaching and online courses; Julia does just that. With the company of her husband, Tony & a menagerie of animals both large and small, Julia's passion may be spread far and wide but her home truly is where her heart is.

Connect with Julia
Website

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Resources

DOWNLOAD Julia’s grant writing guide

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This podcast series is designed to help small business owners and entrepreneurs stand out and grow their business. Because growing their business will change their life.

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Transcript

Nicci O'Mara

Have you been wanting to redevelop your website but just don't have the money? Maybe you want to get professional help with your marketing, finance or business strategy or you've got some amazing project or piece of equipment that needs funding. For most small business owners, applying for a government grant is seen as way too hard or they don't believe that anyone in their right mind would want to give the money that didn't have to pay back. Well, today I have a surprise in store for you with some expert help from the amazing Julia Spicer, who has helped to bring almost $10 million to businesses and community organisations in regional Australia through her grant writing support. Stay tuned because you're definitely not going to want to miss this one.

Nicci O'Mara

The Simply Standout Marketing podcast is for you, the small business owner wanting to supercharge your marketing with simple actionable strategies and inspiration so you can smash your goals and grow your business. Now it's your turn to discover what actions to take to make your business truly stand out and succeed. Let's get started.

Nicci O'Mara

Hello and thanks for joining me today on the podcast. For those of you new here, I'm Nicci Omara, your host and founder of Simply Standout Marketing. I've worked in marketing communications for over 25 years, established my own small businesses and know from first-hand experience that there's a hard way and an easy way to grow your business. Today I have the pleasure of talking with an experienced grant writer and all-around, fun and inspiring woman Julia Spicer, who takes the pain out of applying for grants so you can get on with growing your business.

Nicci O'Mara

Never one to settle for ordinary. Julia is the founder of three regional businesses based in the lovely town of Goondiwindi in Queensland. She's got Engage and Create Consulting, the Goondiwindi Business Hub and most recently, the House. Julia's passion for contributing to the vibrancy and the viability of rural and regional Australia really shines through in absolutely everything she does. Government grants can open up so many opportunities for businesses and aren't something you should be scared of applying for. This is why it's time for us to talk about what goes into a successful grant application, the mistakes to avoid and the winning strategies to use, as well as where to go for help.

Nicci O'Mara

Now, I just want to point out this episode is specific to Australian government grants. But for those of you outside of our beautiful country, I still believe you'll find a lot of value and Julia's experience and the knowledge that she shares that can translate to many countries around the world. So let's get into the good stuff. Welcome, Julia. Thank you so much for joining us on the Simply Standout Marketing podcast today.

Julia Spicer

Thank you very much for having me Nicci.

Nicci O'Mara

It's wonderful. Look to start off, can you tell us a little bit about what it is that you do?

Julia Spicer

Sure. So my business, Engage and Create Consulting, really works across rural and regional communities with small businesses, community groups or industry associations who are looking at taking their idea or project idea that they might have, something that they want to be implementing in their business, and helping them to be able to implement it. And I guess a big part of what we do is help them find funding for that idea or project or new innovation that they want to be able to have, which is what we'll talk about today.

Nicci O'Mara

Yeah. Look, applying for grants is something that there's only a small number of businesses that actually do apply for grants, and there are so many wonderful ideas out there. Look, for most small businesses, applying for grants is often seen as way too hard. And they think, why would anyone give me money? I know I've definitely had those thoughts. How hard is it really to be successful in receiving a grant, and what are they missing out on by not applying?

Julia Spicer

So, Nicci, when we're talking with people about grants, I will often talk about it in terms of think about how it fits into your business model. Looking for the grant, regardless of whether it's from a state or federal government or philanthropic group or whatever, you need to really make the decision as to whether you want that to be part of your business model or not. Because at the end of the day, lots of us have gone to the bank manager in the past and asked for some funds and a loan to be able to do something to help us grow our business.

Julia Spicer

We need to think about grants in a similar way because at the end of the day, it's somebody else's money. It's your or my taxpayer's dollars often that are funding that project. And so we need to be a bit more proactive and a bit more strategic, I guess, around where we want grants to play a role in our business and what that looks like. So the first thing that I will often do with the business is getting them to think about it as another income stream for their business. And then what does that mean? And what do we need to think about in that regard?

Julia Spicer

So it's time-consuming for sure. And you will be expected to have some documentation and some concepts behind you in terms of what this project might be that you're looking for funding for your business. And I guess that's part of being clear around where is your business going and what are you doing and how do grants then become part of that part of your business model for that particular project? Does that make sense?

Nicci O'Mara

Yeah. Look, that absolutely does, because a lot of us, I suppose, think, oh, yeah, it'll just be a quick cash grab. But at the end of the day, it's absolutely not. It's got to have a benefit for those actually providing the money and a benefit for your business to actually make you stand out so that you can actually get that grant. What are some of the types of projects that you've been successful in gaining grants for? And what do you think made them stand out?

Julia Spicer

Well, I guess the other big piece, and you just touched on it around benefits, is we also need to show how the grant not only benefits our own business but potentially benefits the broader community. And so that can differ for different businesses. So let me use a few examples. So we worked with the aged care facility here in Goondiwindi, and we helped them write a grant for federal government funding to do an extension of the aged care facility here. And we got $4.4 million, roughly out of federal government funding to take on that work.

Julia Spicer

Now there are some benefits to that individual organisation to not have to find $4.4 million. But the other part that we had to talk about really clearly in that grant was what was the broader benefit? What were the job opportunities that would come from a construction project that size in a community, the size of Goondiwindi during a drought? What's the flow-on impact in terms of what other businesses benefit from that sort of project. So the Mitre 10's and the McKenzie's and the Council and the furniture stores and the carpet stores and you know, that $4.4 million stayed in town and were spent in all those other businesses.

Julia Spicer

So it was really important to put that forward because at the end of the day, from a taxpayers perspective, they want to know that there are ongoing and community public benefits to those dollars. We could then talk about once the construction's done, how many more jobs they'll be. We need so many more people in the kitchen. We need so many more nurses, we need a gardener. We need all of these extra people to help manage the fact that we've doubled this business. And then the other part of the community benefit is obviously that means that 40 more families can keep their older loved ones within the Goondiwindi community because we actually have beds for them at the aged care facility.

Julia Spicer

So on a really broad scale, that's an example of, you know, of the sorts of grants that we can get. If I can use a smaller example, my own business, we applied for some funding a couple of years ago to be able to redo our website. We wanted to be able to, we wanted to do our website and we would have funded that regardless. But there was a grant out at that time, and what we were able to do was to take advantage of that.

Julia Spicer

So instead of me having to pay the full amount for the new website, I ended up paying half of it. And so the benefit there to that project, you know, certainly wasn't $4 million. But, you know, a $15,000 project. What I could talk about in that regard was what it meant in terms of me being able to grow the capacity of my business. So if I'm making more money as a business, I'm paying more tax. That's what governments like to have. If I'm making more money, I might employ another person.

Julia Spicer

That's what they like to know about. They particularly like if the state, there's always a bit of healthy competition between the States. So as a Queensland based business, I'm able to have a bigger footprint and therefore compete with maybe businesses similar to mine in NSW or Victoria or something like that. So we get to tell a bigger story about the impact of what this website might actually do for my business and what that means for the greater community.

Nicci O'Mara

Yeah. And that's fantastic, because I suppose I haven't really thought about the community side of things, and that makes absolute sense because no one's going to give you a grant if there's no benefit to the wider community, to employing other people, to growing. It's not all about you. And I think that's a really important thing to remember.

Julia Spicer

So we want to make sure in grants that we can show that our business is a low risk to the funder. Yeah, we are good at doing projects and finishing them. You can Google our business name and you're not going to find that we go bankrupt every three years. You Google our name and find that our staff aren't complaining about us on social media. You know, we're low risk for somebody, for a state or federal government, to enter into a project with. So we need to think about that at a very business-focused level.

Julia Spicer

But then what we really want to do is tell the story about how our business growing and improving and expanding is going to benefit more people around us. That's really the piece that we often we'll see that businesses miss. And I think it's a bit of a regional thing, Nicci. I don't know. You would see it with some of the businesses that you do marketing with. I think, you know, often we're really good at just getting on and doing what we do, but we forget to tell people all of the great things that we do.

Nicci O'Mara

I see it absolutely every single day. So because, I think it also might be an Australian thing as well, because when I talk to friends and colleagues in the States and Canada, and the UK, Australians very much like to keep our head down. You know, we're just doing our thing. We don't need to shout out how good we are or it's that tall poppy syndrome that Australians just don't love. And we need to around and go, okay. We need to stand out. We actually, to grow as businesses, we really do need to stand out and stand up and say, okay, well, this is why we are really good at what we do, and that's a lot of the work that I do, definitely. Now you were talking about being a low risk- governments looking for low risk applicants. Is there a year, I know you probably can't put a figure on it, but do they prefer businesses that have been around for two or more years or the longer the better anything along those lines or just depends on the grant?

Julia Spicer

Really good. It's a really good question, Nicci. And I guess it does depend on the grant, but there's a couple of rules of thumb, and this is the world according to, according to Julia, and what we've seen over, I don't know, I guess I have been writing grants for groups for 20 years, really, from working with Landcare groups to now working with small businesses. The smaller the amount of money they're asking for, so if it's a five or $10,000 grant, they are not going to need as much.

Julia Spicer

They're not going to do as much due diligence on you, because otherwise what ends up happening, and we know in our own businesses sometimes, they don't want to spend $10,000 worth of staff to administer a $10,000 grant. It is not worth it. So the smaller the grant, the less they will ask for because it is a lower risk. And they're wanting to get, they're wanting to generally get more grants out there and look really good on social media or on the front page of the Courier mail or whatever it might be.

Julia Spicer

So the smaller the grant, the less they're going to ask for, and potentially the wider the criteria of that grant will be. So when we talking about micro-businesses or often I get asked by sole traders, you know, when are there grants out that I'm eligible for? It'll be those smaller grants. And that's because as a sole trader, you're seen as riskier than a company or a trust or a partnership. So it literally comes down to your business structure there. So the smaller the grant, the less they ask for, and the more generally people can access those.

Julia Spicer

The bigger the grant, so when we're looking at $100,000, $250,000 or into the millions of dollars of grants, they want more information. They want multiple years of financial, you know, financial records. They want a letter from your accountant to say that you know, Julia has the funds. This isn't just Julia saying she has the funds to do this project, it is also the accountant saying that she has the funds. So the bigger the project, the more money you're asking for, the more information they're going to ask you for to be able to show that there is a good, strong likelihood of you being able to deliver on this project.

Nicci O'Mara

Well, that makes total sense. Absolutely. If you've never written a grant application before, how long does it typically take to write one?

Julia Spicer

Well, it's a really good question, Nicki. And I guess if we're looking at something that might be, you'll spend the same, often, you will spend the same amount of time on a $50,000 project as you will a $500,000 project. So once you get to a point, the questions are the same. It's the amount of detail that you want to go into. But think about it a bit like a uni assignment. Well, actually, that's probably a really bad example, because I would leave all my assignments to the last minute and then copy from a friend.

Julia Spicer

So maybe don't do that. But I guess we need to think about how determined you are that you want to be able to get this grant. So we will often say you want to leave yourself as much time as possible. So it may only take you four or 5 hours to write the grant, but you might need three weeks to do that. There's some research you want to do. You want to send off and get a letter of support from your local Chamber of commerce.

Julia Spicer

You want to do a draft and send it to a friend so that they can have a look at it and get it back to you, you know. So there's a little bit of work that goes with it. Equally, if we're asking for $100,000 of money, that is not a loan, we get to keep, we don't ever have to return that, that's four or 5 hours of work over three weeks is probably a pretty good return on investment, I reckon. So the other thing, too, that we often will see is that people start every funding application like it's the only one that they've ever written.

Julia Spicer

And once we've done a few of these, we know we can reuse a lot of the information. And again, this is where working with somebody like yourself, Nicci, makes it so much easier for businesses. They have information on their website that they forget about. So instead of sitting there and trying to spend an hour writing about us and the history of our business, we can copy and paste that off a website. And once we have that, we can save it in a word document and a file that says grant information. And next time we apply for a grant, we absolutely use that. Those same words, same content.

Nicci O'Mara

Yes. Because at the end of the day, there are so many grants that come up year after year that obviously you probably can't apply for the same grant. But there's so many different ones and different levels of government as well as there are foundations out there if you're a start-up or there's a lot out there when you really start looking.

Julia Spicer

Absolutely. So I always send everybody to a website called Indigo Gold, and it's run by a lady called Prue Saxby and Prue has some fee for service activities that she does in this grant writing space. And she also has a whole lot of free resources.

Nicci O'Mara

Now, as we all know, not every idea is a good one. How do you decide whether you have a good idea or that a client of yours has a good idea that has a decent chance of being funded or not?

Julia Spicer

This is a really good question. And so I guess the reality is, this is where it's really important that as the business owner or the manager or whoever you are in the business, you are really clear around why that particular project is occurring. So what kind of sends a little shiver down my spine is when I get a call from people and they're like, we've seen a grant out for 100 grand, can you write an application for us? And I go, sure. What is the project? And they're like, oh, we don't really have one, but there's 100 grand and we want it. And I'm like, me too. It's not Christmas.

Nicci O'Mara

That's not the idea.

Julia Spicer

Exactly. So sometimes we will have businesses come to us. And the idea is brilliant and it's fantastic. But it's just not at the right stage for it to be grant ready. So the grants are wanting to fund something that's already at the commercial stage and you're still at trialling, this new app or programme or something or other. Or you're too far down the path, they only want to fund projects that are at a testing stage and you're already at the commercialised stage. So this is where reading the guidelines and understanding things are really important.

Julia Spicer

And again, it doesn't mean that your idea isn't good. It just means it's not going to fit that project. And we want to think about applying for grants a little bit like we would a marketing exercise. So often, again, people will say to me, oh, well, we don't know whether we'll get it or not, but let's just throw our hat in the ring and see how we go. And I'll say, I wish you well, we probably don't need to work with you on that. There's no point in you paying us because we are pretty sure you're not going to get funded.

Julia Spicer

And also, you don't want to be known as the business in Brisbane or Canberra or Sydney or wherever you're applying to for a grant, you don't want to be known as the business that didn't really have a well thought out project, didn't really make sense. You didn't actually have half of the materials that you needed to attach with it. So it's less about whether the idea is good or not and more about is it ready for the grant that you're particularly looking at. And the piece that I really encourage people to think about is this piece around what is the broader benefit to the community as a result of the work that you are doing.

Julia Spicer

And we can look at Covid as a really good example of what's happening at the moment and where governments are interested in funding particular activities based on what's happening now, what happened during Covert. So if you're a regional tourism person, if you are thinking about starting a farm stay or an Airbnb or you've been looking at that kind of thing that's going to be really fundable in the next couple of years while we're not all traipsing off to New Zealand and Barley and overseas and all the rest of it.

Julia Spicer

So the tourism peace will be really big. And the other thing that Covid showed us was that manufacturing, we need to rebuild our manufacturing industry in Australia. And so anything that you're doing or making, that means that you're not reliant on something from overseas. That's going to be another thing where, you know, whether it's a good idea, but that's going to be very fundable, I think, you know, currently and also into the future.

Nicci O'Mara

Yeah. Well, that's the thing. If you can actually look at the government, so, if you're applying to a state government, what are they really focused on at the moment, I suppose is what you're looking at. And that makes total sense because there's no point, they're going to be more inclined, I suppose, to give money to someone where their focus is right at this point in time and also remembering their focus changes as quickly as governments change and the times change too.

Nicci O'Mara

Now, what do you find small business owners struggle with the most when it comes to writing grant applications?

Julia Spicer

So sometimes what we find is it is some of that documentation that sits around them. They know where their business is going, but it's not documented in their business plan, and that's something that will often be asked to be attached. So we need a business plan or a strategic plan. We need something documented that shows that this particular project or this stage of work that we are doing is part of something bigger in our business. So again, we didn't wake up yesterday and think, you know what? We're going to get into apps if that's not ever been part of our story because the likelihood of that succeeding is low. The likelihood of that happening on time is low.

Julia Spicer

And, you know, the piece around some of this documentation. So again, I say if you've developed a business plan or you've got a strategic plan, and often we do some of those things for a bank manager or we've done it for some other reason. Save that somewhere because we'll need it for our grants. So sometimes what lets people down, Nicci, is the documentation, you know. And if we have two weeks to write a grant, we don't also want to be having to come up with a business plan at the same time.

Julia Spicer

So often we sort of encouraging people if they don't have everything ready for this round, and it's a possibility to hold off and apply for a future round of that same grant. So if you're not quite ready for round three, spend the next six months getting yourself ready because we know that there'll be another round and then you're right ready to go for round four. So that's certainly some. And then the other piece is around getting support to help with some of the writing.

Julia Spicer

So that doesn't always need to be a grant writer, somebody like yourself who is actually helping them pull the important parts of their story together and then being able to articulate that really clearly is the other really important part of this. So often people think grants, you know, you have to have a PhD in English literature do it. And there's a bit of a fairy tale around that. And I don't know how it started, but realistically, we need to remember that people reading the grant application are sitting somewhere else.

Julia Spicer

They don't know what it's like to be a small business in Goondiwindi. They don't really understand the lay of the land here. They don't really understand agriculture or agtech or whatever it is that we're applying for. So we actually need to simplify it and make it as clear as possible rather than using lots of big words and making things sound more complicated than they are. That actually can sometimes do it a disservice when it comes to people reading and understanding what it is we're actually wanting to do.

Nicci O'Mara

Look, it makes total sense to actually try and simplify the process if you've got your business plan ready and even a marketing plan. I find so many businesses actually don't have things like their mission statement written when I come in, or their values or plans along those lines and they take time, unfortunately. But it's also a really good exercise for them to get those plans happening so that they can apply for grants because grants can do so much to build and grow your business without having to repay loans and all the rest of it.

Nicci O'Mara

There are quite a few general funding programmes to help grow small businesses, which we have touched on a bit today, with people being able to apply for funding for things like marketing strategy, website development, as you discussed, and even financial advisory. How do businesses stand out from all the other applicants for these types of programmes to ensure they actually have a higher chance of success?

Julia Spicer

More and more we will see that there are grants around for support, for business advice, for exactly the services that you're talking about, marketing, HR and employment sort of thing. Because at the end of the day, if we think about the why- why would governments at a state or federal level support people to access that for free, is because they want viable businesses, right? They actually want businesses to sustain, to make money, to employ people, to be vibrant in a community because that's what they need.

Julia Spicer

It becomes very expensive for governments if that's not happening in a business community. So they're wanting to make sure that that happens across the country. So keep that front and centre. So for the likes of you and I, Nicci, we get to actually use that as part of our own business growth and business development. You know, when there's a project that's out where businesses can access marketing support, that's really great for you. Hey, guys, apply for this grant. You'll get five grand worth of free marketing and then come and see me and that gives us an opportunity to work together for the next couple of months or whatever it might be.

Julia Spicer

So there are multiple ways that benefit businesses. In terms of what helps us stand out from the crowd is this piece around we are really clear about who we are, we're really clear about why we do what we do, and we're really clear about what this means in terms of that public benefit. It really is as simple as being crystal clear about what that looks like. The fact then that we can talk about, and I'm conscious people listen to this podcast from all over the place, but I am pretty parochial, as you know, Nicci, so the fact that if you're rural, remote or regional, we're pretty popular at the moment. If you're a woman, we're pretty popular at the moment. If you're if there's any sort of migrant women in business or migrant people, in general, starting a business a pretty key demographic that lots of the governments are wanting to be able to support, maybe not the federal government, but certainly at the state level. So if you fit into a particular demographic that the government is desperately trying to engage better with, then that needs to be front and centre in your application as well.

Julia Spicer

So you can see this really does become a marketing PR pitching exercise as much as it does writing and applying for funding for a new website or whatever it might be.

Nicci O'Mara

As a small business owner, you just don't have enough time to do everything. And a lot of the time when it comes to grants, people just go, I don't have the time to do it. But then if you turn it around and go, okay, but the benefit to you is if you could get a brand new website or your financial advice or HR help, whatever it happens to be. If you can get a $10,000 for that, that is worth the 5 hours that they would need to put in and paying the likes of you or other grant writers and actually putting it in because, at the end of the day, $10,000 is still $10,000 or a hundred thousand dollars, however much you can actually apply for.

Nicci O'Mara

It does make a difference if it's well thought out, rather than just doing a money grab because that's never going to work.

Julia Spicer

Correct. And I think the other thing too is, so we will often, you know, we will charge people to submit the grant. Other grant writers will say only pay us if we win the grant or whatever. We didn't. We've never done it that way. And the reason being, Nicci, is it's actually a really good strategic exercise for a business to go through. They end up with some really good content for a website. If they haven't reviewed their website, they've got some marketing information. They've also got some really good documented information about their business that if the grant isn't successful, we can help them redo it and reapply, or they can use that information in multiple, different ways.

Julia Spicer

So I think that's one of the other things is this a useful exercise for a range of different things, particularly if you can use that content in multiple areas. And then the one other thing I should say, particularly for small businesses, and you and I are great examples of that. You know, with our $10,000 new website, it's unlikely we're going to then be able to employ three more people. You know, that's not likely to happen. So we can admit that. But what it does mean is we get to hold on to the people that we do currently employ.

Julia Spicer

So often, particularly in rural and regional areas, what we might say is, you know, as a result of this project or if this project was to get funded, we actually are not going to be employing any new people, but it means that we can really confidently hold on to the three guys we've got working in our welding and fabrication business, or we can put on a school-based apprentice as part of our building business or whatever it might be. It doesn't always need to be that we're going to do all of this astronomical growth.

Julia Spicer

It may well be that this actually means that we can hold onto everybody we've got now. So you also don't want to talk up stuff if it's not actually going to be the case, if you're not actually going to be employing all of these extra people and just really think about, you know, at the end of the day, what the government's buying with these grants is sustainable and profitable businesses. They're wanting to support mentally well business owners. They're wanting to make sure people understand their financial, have good financial literacy, etc, etc. That's actually what they're wanting to buy with some of these grants.

Nicci O'Mara

Yeah. At the end of the day, the more businesses, the more small businesses that succeed and that grow, the more taxes they pay, the more people they employ, which money then goes back into the economy. And so I can understand it. And I did always wonder about why they gave money for things, some of the smaller day to day stuff or your marketing websites and financial advice and things along those lines. But it just makes so much sense to me now after talking with you, because really, if they can grow more businesses and sustainable, lower risk small businesses that actually have a really good chance of succeeding, then they're going to make more money and it's better for the community. So I do like that.

Julia Spicer

Yes. Absolutely. And that's the way that we can then sort of think about, you know, well, why would they be interested in what I'm doing? You know, why would I be a viable option for this particular project? And then that gives you the opportunity to kind of go from there and think about, well, how how do I then put this information across?

Nicci O'Mara

Yeah. And what have your clients, because you've been doing this for a long time now, what if your clients found to be some of the biggest benefits of having a professional grant writer develop their grant applications for them?

Julia Spicer

So I guess you touched on it before, you know, it's that timepiece. So we can sit and have a meeting and go through what is it that they want? What are they going to do? And then we can go off and do it for them so they can buy in an extra set of arms and legs for that process. So that time and efficiency piece are really important. We will often become a bit of an extension of a marketing team or a business development team for some businesses where they want us to keep an eye out for grants that they might be eligible for because we have lots of emails coming our way or we follow all of the pages that we need to on social media or whatever that might be.

Julia Spicer

So often they'll see that as an advantage. So they don't have to spend time and energy researching either. And often it is a bit of a, it's a team thing as well. And again, you would see this with some of your clients. You know, it can be pretty lonely in a small business. And if it's only you at the top of the tree or it's only you full stop, having somebody else who's coming in and working with you and helping you look at what's this going to mean for your business, that actually builds a bit of team.

Julia Spicer

We get to be part of a team for a while with a small business to help them with this. So I guess there are a few reasons. And let's face it, the other reason is that, you know, we can help people get cash. So yeah, there's also that. They like us for our humour. They really like us for our ability to bring them some money.

Nicci O'Mara

Well, that's always a good one. But look, I must say, when I first started out, like I set up my first business in back in 2002, so a long time ago. And it's one thing that I always regret that you always held on to money and just go, it's okay, I'll do it. I'll do everything. Whereas nowadays very different outlook in terms of okay, I need a grant. I've written many grants before, a long time ago, but it's one of those things where you know what time it would take me, I would be better off giving that to someone, to an expert, to a professional grant writer and go, can you do this for me? Because this is what you live and breathe every single day. And it's the same with people employing me as a marketing consultant. It's what I live and breathe every single day. I know the ins and outs. Same with your financial advisor. You go to an accountant. I always think it's so good to actually invest the money. It's not a huge amount of money, but the return can be. And the benefit to your own business can be huge.

Julia Spicer

Yeah, you're exactly right. Because at the end of the day, we've got funding for an algae farm, for an aged care facility, for Internet and connectivity towers, for toilet block at a show grounds. Do you know what I mean? Like, the range of projects that we've been part of is pretty wild. But the common thing there is we can ask the questions that need to be asked. We can answer questions using the right sort of language that will help people. And we can help people make that process not nearly as painful as it needs to be.

Nicci O'Mara

And at the end of the day, anything that can take the pain away from growing a small business is always beneficial in my mind.

Julia Spicer

Exactly.

Nicci O'Mara

Julia, where can people find out more about you?

Julia Spicer

So I think probably our social media is the best place to send people. So our Facebook page is Engage and Create Consulting, and we will often share grants that are available on that Facebook page. Sometimes they'll be for business, sometimes they'll be for community groups. But yeah, I think our Engage and Create consulting Facebook page is probably one of those spaces, and people can certainly then go through and end up on our mailing list. And we send people, you know, sort of targeted information that they might want in relation to grants and things like that.

Nicci O'Mara

Fantastic. Look, thank you so much for joining us and for giving us so much information and all your knowledge and expertise sharing with us. So it's been wonderful to have you on the podcast today.

Julia Spicer

Thanks, Nicci. The other thing, if people are really interested, we've got some downloadable resources on the website, and there's a whole list of questions around you know- what will grant? You know, what will people ask with a grant application? So that might be the other spot that people want to go to. But thank you for having me. And I think, you know, this is a great service that you are providing for small businesses to be able to give them this information through your podcast. So well done.

Nicci O'Mara

Oh, thanks so much. Truly you're very kind. Now that link to your download I'll actually put in the show notes so people can just click straight through to it. 

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