The Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) is warning small businesses to be aware of companies offering to find government grants on their behalf, usually for a fee.
While not illegal, the information small businesses receive is actually available for free from www.business.gov.au.
Small Business Commissioner David Eaton said the SBDC had received numerous calls about the practice in the past 12 months.
“The websites promoting these services pay to rank highly in Google and other search engines for key words such as ‘Australian Government grants’,” he said.
“Small businesses seeking information about grants click on these sites and speak to a sales representative who says for $650, on average, the company will find the perfect grant for the business and guarantee them government money.
“Once the small business pays for the service, it receives an email with a PDF attachment that details every grant available in Australia at the time.
“But often this information is pulled directly from www.business.gov.au and isn’t tailored to suit the specific business – the small business ends up receiving the same generic details.”
Mr Eaton said the sales pitch is often very strong with misleading information given to secure the sale.
“The sales people claim to be government representatives and, in some cases, have been known to say ‘you can trust us’,” he said.
“The websites look professional and legitimate but provide very basic information – the aim is to encourage people to phone so a sale can be made.
“We have heard from several small business operators about this and it can only be described as deceptive conduct.”
To access government grant information for free, go to www.business.gov.au and access the ‘grants and assistance’ tab.
Small Business Development Corporation
About the SBDC
The Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) is an independent statutory authority, established in 1984 under the Small Business Development Corporation Act 1983.
What we do
The primary role of the SBDC is to encourage, promote, facilitate and assist the establishment, growth and development of small business in Western Australia.
This is achieved by providing advice and guidance, as well as education and skill development programs, to small business owners.
The SBDC works directly with small business operators and liaises with industry and business associations to exchange information and provide support and assistance to their members.
The SBDC also provides advice and support to the Minister for Small Business on matters impacting the sector, including the effect of government policy and legislation on small business.
Through these avenues, the SBDC helps to raise public awareness of the importance of small business to the economy and community.
In addition, the SBDC investigates any matters impacting small businesses and advises small business on ways to obtain assistance.
The SBDC also maintains an information centre with a comprehensive range of business resources and delivers workshops for existing and potential small business operators.
More recently, the SBDC has provided an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service in relation to small business disputes.