Government to help small businesses digitise, go global with revised $18m advisory program

Digital world

To help small businesses get online and reach new markets through digital platforms, the Federal Government has overhauled its Australian Small Business Advisory Services (ASBAS) program, Minister for Small Business Michael McCormack has announced.

McCormack said the redesigned program will allocate $18 million in grants over three years to specialist advisers who will engage with interested small businesses throughout Australia to provide relevant training, expert advice and targeted support to grow businesses through digital platforms.

“By having digital skills and access to expert advice, small businesses can take advantage of the endless opportunities the digital economy provides here in Australia as well as internationally,” he said.

“Small businesses are the true innovators in our economy with many taking on great risks to have-a-go resulting in the sector contributing over $380 billion to the economy annually and jobs for around 5.6 million Australians.

“Repositioning ASBAS will give small businesses the confidence and advice they need to seize the opportunities arising from the evolving digital environment, benefiting the economy and employment opportunities.”

McCormack said there were proven benefits for small businesses which adopt digital technologies and missed opportunities for those not engaging with the digital economy.

“Deloitte research shows small businesses which reach advanced levels of digital engagement are one-and-a-half times more likely to be growing revenue and eight times more likely to be creating jobs compared to those which have basic digital engagement,” Mr McCormack said.

“On the other hand, Commonwealth Bank research shows up to 80 per cent of small and medium businesses are delaying the adoption of digital technologies which could provide long-term benefits to their business.”

McCormack said today’s announcement complements the Turnbull Government’s recently announced Small Business Digital Taskforce to be led by entrepreneur Mark Bouris .

“The Government’s Small Business Digital Taskforce will engage with small business owners around the country to understand the challenges they face, as well as raising awareness about the benefits of adopting digital technologies.

Applications for ASBAS grants open in late January 2018 with the funding round to run over three years from 2 July 2018 to 30 June 2021.

Grant funding will be allocated to three providers to deliver services in their coverage areas each of which spans multiple States and Territories.

The ASBAS program guidelines for the 2018 funding round are available at www.business.gov.au/asbas.

Related: Mark Bouris heading up Federal Government taskforce to help small businesses digitise