Willing to be in the public spotlight for 12 months? Your business might be eligible for the Small Business Digital Champions Project.
Australian small businesses owners could be forgiven of being sick of calls to ‘go digital’. But it’s not often that the government offers to help fund their use of technology.
This week, the Federal Government announced it will provide 100 small businesses with a digital transformation valued at up to $20,000. Businesses will receive hardware, software and "digital skills training".
The initiative is called the Small Business Digital Champions Project and aims to help businesses move from paper to “online systems”. That might include helping businesses to move to cloud accounting services, develop content for apps and websites, or deploy a “full suite” of cloud-based business management tools.
The government isn’t providing cash, mind you – it is looking to the private sector to contribute equipment services and training to the project.
While a tiny fraction of Australian small businesses will benefit directly from the initiative, the government is also pitching it as a promotional exercise. It will select 15 of the 100 businesses to become “digital champions”, and will feature their digital transformations in online case studies.
Each business will get a digital business mentor, which the government promises will be a “high profile” Australian entrepreneur. The first publicly announced mentors are Dodo internet founder Larry Kestelman, founder of Mexican restaurant chain Zambrero, Dr Sam Prince, and celebrity fitness trainer Michelle Bridges. The government is calling for others who fancy themselves as digital mentors to express interest in taking part.
Is your business eligible?
Businesses can apply to take part in mid-January 2019 – though they can already register their interest here.
Sole traders and business with less than 20 full time equivalent employees can apply, but not if they’ve received state or federal funding for similar digital support.
They must also show they comply with tax and industrial relation laws. And they must need a digital transformation.
Perhaps the biggest challenge will be finding the time to take part. Candidates must agree to 12 months of interviews, coaching sessions with mentors, and digital training.
And they’ll need to happy to be in the public spotlight – the government will promote their business details through a “range of digital channels”, no doubt with celebrity mentor involvement.
It will be interesting to see who steps up to take part, the advice they receive and how they benefit.