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$19m digital advice program aims to move small businesses online


Three suppliers have been named for round two of government’s subsidised technology assistance scheme.

By Philip King 10 minute read

The government has named three suppliers for the second round of its digital advice program, which delivers almost $19 million over the next three years to help small businesses go online.

The Digital Solutions – Australian Small Business Advisory Services Program was designed to assist firms with fewer than 20 staff “embrace digital opportunities”, the Minister for Small Business, Julie Collins, said.

“Through this program, we want to give small businesses nationwide the skills and confidence they need to embrace digital opportunities,” she said. 

“Digitalisation is the key to unlocking productivity gains, creating efficiencies and better connecting small businesses with their customers. 

“We know just how critical this is as more and more Australians connect with small businesses online.” 

Through Realise Business in NSW, Darebin Enterprise Centre in Victoria and Business Foundations in WA small businesses could get four hours of one-on-one advice for a small fee, she said.

They could also access free workshops, presentations and tutorials on websites, selling online, social media, digital marketing, small business software, cyber security and data privacy. 

Ms Collins said 45,000 businesses participated in round one, including the Outdoor Table, an online homewares business which got advice on search engine optimisation, Facebook and website maintenance from an ACT digital business adviser.

The Outdoor Table’s website had significantly increased its online presence and  website traffic, she said.

The APAC managing director of accounting software supplier Xero welcomed the additional $18.6 million subsidy as helping to combat “digital hesitancy”.

“Research from Xero highlights there is hesitancy to invest in digital solutions,” Joseph Lyons said.

"Data shows 70 per cent of Australian small business owners delay decisions about upgrading technology because they don’t feel urgent, while 60 per cent put off making technology-related decisions if confronted with too many options.

“However, there is clear evidence that businesses that invest in technology are more profitable and see one-third fewer job losses than those with lower levels of investment.”

Realise Business, established in 1989, in based in southern Sydney and was involved in round one of the program, along with Business Foundations in Fremantle. Darebin Enterprise Centre describes itself as one of Melbourne’s first business incubators and has been in operation since 1997.

A 120 per cent tax deduction for spending on digital uptake by small business, introduced by the former government in last year’s budget and widely welcomed by the sector, has yet to be made law.

It would allow businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million to claim a bonus deduction of up to $20,000 on eligible spending but expires at the end of this financial year.


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Philip King

Philip King


Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.

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