The guide, developed by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman in partnership with Scottish Pacific Business Finance, was originally intended to help small businesses secure funding for growth, however given the heavy toll the COVID crisis has taken on small businesses, the focus is now firmly on their survival.
While the guide is primarily written for accountants, bookkeepers, brokers and other financial advisers, to help their small-business clients, a companion guide called FitSME – Essential Guide to Business Funding has also been developed specifically for business owners and operators.
“Trading conditions have changed dramatically since we released the first Business Funding Guide last year,” the small business ombudsman Kate Carnell said.
“While many small businesses are still eligible for government support, these measures are temporary and plans will need to be made to fund their recovery, reinvention and growth.”
The independent Business Funding Guide provides comprehensive up-to-date information about a range of funding options available to small businesses, along with a step-by-step pathway to becoming “finance fit” to give small businesses their best chance at success with the application process.
“Even at the best of times, many small businesses face an uphill battle to secure funding,” said Ms Carnell.
“We know many have not bothered to apply due to the onerous application process and unrealistic serviceability requirements. Even for loans that have been 50 per cent guaranteed by the federal government, small businesses have been asked for all sorts of documentation including director guarantees, which really means the family home.
“That’s why it is crucial small businesses understand the growing range of financial providers and products on the market – the big four banks are not the only game in town!”
She stressed the importance of considering all options when seeking finance.
“Small business owners that need funding to stay afloat and recover from this challenging period need to consider all of the funding options, including those that are not tied to the family home, to make the best choice for their business,” Ms Carnell concluded.
“Finally, it is vital small business borrowers ensure their lender is an AFCA member and talk to their trusted accredited financial adviser – who has our Business Funding Guide – before taking out a loan.”
What is in the guide for SMEs?
The companion guide specifically for businesses, FitsME – Essential Guide to Business Funding, combines a range of simple advice on various financial matters.
Among them are key questions to ask when looking to appoint a new accountant or a new finance broker; a step-by-step funding decision flowchart to help business owners make a funding decision based on their needs; as well as links to relevant government resources.
The guide also advises business owners about the My Business Health Portal and where they can seek support.