Free financial counselling services are available to help small business owners who need information about managing debt or are in financial distress.
Financial challenges are often cited as the biggest cause of anxiety for small business owners. An Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources report Small Business Owners and Mental Health 2020 found that:
“Financial issues are the main stressors for SBOs [Small Business Owners]. Some industries, such as wholesale trade and accommodation and food services are more prone to feeling financial stress. Financial stressors are also likely to be felt at different points in the business cycle, particularly at start-up and pre profit or when the business is established but stressed.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional impacts for some business owners, some of the main sources of financial stress are ongoing factors such as securing or maintaining affordable finance, receiving payments on time, maintaining cashflow and ensuring the ongoing profitability or survival of the business.
What a financial counsellor can assist with
Small Business Financial Counsellors are qualified professionals who assist with independent information, advice, support and referral. Their role is to assist small business owners with options and information when in financial difficulty. Some of the assistance offered includes:
Some of the areas in which a small business financial counsellor may be able to assist include:
- speaking to creditors such as banks or finance companies, on your behalf about payment arrangements;
- providing bankruptcy and debt agreement information
- facilitating access to dispute resolution service
- providing information about the insolvency process for companies
- helping you to understand and organise business and financial records
- developing budgets and money plans for an individual or a high-level cash flow for a business
- providing information about understanding your rights and accessing legal help
- providing information about grants and concession frameworks
- developing strategies to manage short term and long term financial difficulties
- explaining the relationship between business and personal assets and liabilities and the implications of this in relation to debts.
Small Business Financial Counsellors typically do not offer legal advice, corporate insolvency advice, investment advice, complex business advice or assistance with interpersonal disputes between business parties.
Free financial counselling resources
National financial counselling services
Small Business Debt Helpline
The Small Business Debt Helpline was established by Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) in 2020 with funding from the Australian Government. It was originally established as the Small Business Bushfire Financial Counselling Support Line.
The Small Business Debt Helpline is designed to assist with financial counselling for small businesses and sole traders in financial distress.
Tel: 1800 413 828
National Debt Helpline
The National Debt Helpline assists individuals in financial distress with free, independent and confidential advice from professional financial counsellors.
Tel: 1800 007 007
WA small business financial counselling
The State Government has funded the following providers to help small businesses. Select the provider closest to you or speak to one of the SBDC’s Small Business advisers on 133 140 for a referral.
Anglicare WA (Joondalup)
Tel: 1300 114 446
City of Cockburn
Tel: 9411 3444
Gosnells Community Legal Centre
Tel: 9398 1455
Money Mentors (Byford)
Tel: 9581 1281
Rural financial counselling
Rural West offers free, mobile and independent support to regional small businesses and primary production enterprises.
Tel: 1800 612 004
Small business taxation and banking assistance
Curtin Tax clinic
The Curtin Tax Clinic is a student-run clinic. Individuals can receive taxation advice from Curtin taxation students under the supervision of experienced tax practitioners.
Tel: 9266 2575
ECU Tax Clinic
The ECU Tax Clinic is a student-run clinic. Individuals can receive taxation advice from ECU taxation students under the supervision of experienced tax practitioners.
Tel: 6304 6190
Australian Taxation Office
The ATO has a range of options to support individuals including business owners in areas such as developing payment plans if you are having trouble paying your taxes on time.
Tel: 13 72 26
Most Australian banks have dedicated teams who can help you in times of financial hardship. The Australian Banking Association provides a list of the hardship team contact details for most banks in Australia. They have also developed a Financial Assistance Hub with information on ways to navigate periods of financial difficulty and forms of support available from your bank.
You might also like to read more about managing stress and anxiety when you run a business.