Low cost, High Quality help is at hand!

Sources of Information and Government Assistance for Developing (or Starting) your Business.

      By Anne Paterson and Joanne Mansell.

Anne Paterson is the General Manager of BECN, The Business Enterprise Centre Northside, based on Chatswood, Sydney. Joanne Mansell is our guest Editor.

Did you read about NEIS last month and then find out you are not eligible for the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme? Or are you already in business and want to do it better? There is still Government Assistance available to youÖ. Read on to find out what is on offer and where.

What are the "Business Enterprise Centres"?

Business Enterprise Centres are partially funded by the Department of State and Regional Development and are non-profit organisations that offer practical assistance to people interested in establishing a micro/small business. (Micro businesses have less than 5 employees).

About 200,000 new businesses start up across Australia each year. Unfortunately many fail within the first few years of operation.

The administration and legislative aspects of sustaining a new business often challenges small operators, but advice and guidance from your BEC can result in more ventures finding success in an often-competitive environment.

Anne Paterson says "a lot more people are entering into self employment, despite talk of an economic recession, people are shrugging off corporate life to start their own business". Ms Paterson continues "that even if you have a good business idea it is important to prepare a business plan before commencing the business. This will help to eliminate and reduce the risk of failure".

How can the BECís help?

  • NEIS

The BEC runs small business training for people who are unemployed and are receiving a benefit from Centre-link under the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS), a Federal Funded program. NEIS was mentioned in the April edition of "Work from Home".

NEIS provides a six weeks full-time certificate IV in Small Business, a mentor for a year and NEIS allowance for the first year while the new business is being established.

At the end of the course one will have developed a thorough business plan consisting of three parts: an operational plan, a marketing plan and a financial plan.

  • Education and Training: affordable courses in small business planning and management.

The BECN has been awarded a contract from the State Department of Education and Training (DET) to provide VETAB accredited courses in small business planning/management for people thinking about becoming self-employed that have a business idea. This course is available to people who are employed and/or are already running their business.

For a minimal fee (around $150) participants attend evening or day sessions over 16 weeks, at the end of which they will have developed a professional Business Plan and receive a Certificate in Small Business Management. Ms Paterson, notes that most small businesses fail due to lack of adequate planning and research.

Both the NEIS and DET training programs ensure that many of those fatal pitfalls are avoided.

The course covers: * business planning * marketing * insurance * ownership structures * cost pricing & breakeven * bookkeeping/budgeting * financial management * business law and taxation * managing people.

"Itís a matter of looking before you leap," Ms Paterson says. "Our programs focus on all aspects of setting up a business, from competitor analysis and pricing strategies to profit and loss projections and preparing for the GST.

Another popular course offered by the BECN is Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training Ė a must for anyone involved in accreditation or workplace training including presentation or facilitation. The course covers * planning and administering training for adults * delivering and assessing training * evaluating training and promotion * workplace assessment.

Most BECís also offer a workshop "Introduction to Small Business".

  • Free Advice

Some BECís also offer business advice and provide practical assistance to small business. This can be in the form of assistance to overcome difficulties, assisting with expansion, or registration of inventions.

  • Networking or Mentoring

The services may vary from between BECís. They generally offer mentor support and networking (to members) through referrals, members directory, seminars, training courses, business breakfasts and network meetings.

  • Facilities and Resources

The Armidale BEC (www.bec.com.au) offers the following facilities: Library, Resource Material, Photocopying, Faxing, Computer Processing, Image Scanning, Phone Answering, Hire of Floor Space and function room and Computer Facilities including Internet access.

  • Books and Information

Most BECís have a range of guides and booklets that cover topics such as GST, marketing and advertising. These are available for sale - some (such as GST information from the ATO) are free of charge. The BECís also offer a start-up kit for around $25.

  • How do I find my local BEC?

At this stage each state has itís own association of BECís. Check your local white or yellow pages phone book under "Business Enterprise Centre". There currently are 130 BECís around Australia.


  • Business Entry Point

A great online resource is the Business Entry Point (BEP) www.business.gov.au. Here is a small sample of the topics covered in this website.

Developing a business: - Assistance and advice; Developing a business; Education and training; Innovation; Intellectual property; Marketing; Research and development

E-commerce - Customer relations; E-payments; Getting started; Market research; Promoting your website; Security; Technical issues

Employing staff - Agreements and awards; Apprenticeships; Managing people; Occupational health and safety; Recruitment and dismissal; Superannuation; Workers compensation; Workplace relations

Exporting and importing - Assistance and advice; Exporting; Importing

Financial issues - Buying a business; Consumer credit; Credit management; Financial issues; Insurance; Record keeping; Selling a business

Legal issues - Contracts; Disputes; Legal issues

Licencing matters - ACT and NT; Licences; New South Wales; Queensland; South Australia; Tasmania; Victoria; Western Australia

Starting a business - Assistance and advice; Business planning; Business structures; Buying a business; Franchising; Registering a business; Starting a business

  • "Home Based Business Network"

Home Based Business Network (NSW) provides support and networking opportunities for people operating their businesses from home phone (02) 9689 1977 Fax: (02) 9687 0210. Home Based Business Network (NSW) Newsletter is published by the Parramatta Business Enterprise Centre.

Home Based Business Network (NSW) promotes the development of the Home Based Business Sector by:

  • Researching and disseminating information which may assist proprietors of home based businesses to operate those business as effectively as possible
  • Providing a referral line that provides practical advice and assistance to home based businesses and small enterprises as well as people seeking to establish businesses
  • Advising on laws which may affect the operation of a home business
  • Providing a forum for the discussion of issues affecting the operation of a home based business
  • Developing entrepreneurial skills and values through training and services at a reasonable prices
  • Fostering business and employment opportunities
  • Providing an informative monthly newsletter which addresses important issues relevant to home based businesses
  • Non Government low cost sources of information

* Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can also be a great source of information for Small and Home Based Business. ISPís such as Ozemail have an area specifically for small business. See www.ozemail.com.au/sbguide/

* Telstra has an excellent business section (www.telstra.com) http://telstra.com/business/ that includes a section for Women in Business


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