04/08/2016 6:15 AM AEST | Updated 07/08/2017 10:43 AM AEST

Melbourne Small Business Festival Has Tips And Advice For Entrepreneurs

The best thing? You can attend in your PJs thanks to free webinars.

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Small Business Festival Victoria features hundreds of events for anyone looking to start or grow a business.

If you're thinking of starting a small business or buying a franchise, it can be hard to know where to start.

It's equally daunting if you've already taken the leap to self-employment but you're not sure how to scale up and start employing staff, or even expand your business overseas.

Hosted by the State Government, the annual Small Business Festival Victoria is brimming with cool stuff for entrepreneurs and offers more than 400 events in Melbourne and regional Victoria -- many of which are free.

Victoria has nearly 541,000 small businesses which employ almost half the state's private sector jobs, according to Minister for Small Business Philip Dalidakis.

"They are the heart and soul of many communities," he said. "This is why we are committed to ensuring that small businesses are able to access the information and support they need to help them innovate, connect with new markets, invest and create jobs."

And don't worry if you live interstate -- there's a myriad of free webinars on topics ranging from using social media to find clients, tips to 'green' your business to the secrets of solo success.

Bellabox's Sarah Hamilton will share her experiences of launching a successful startup.

Here are some of our top picks.

1. Gov4U: advice, support and grants for SMEs

Your business -- whether you're starting out or have been operating for five years -- may be eligible for a grant from local, state or federal government. This free seminar offers speakers from all levels of government to give you the lowdown -- and offers a little networking session too. This session is repeated on several days if you can't make this date.

Date and time: Friday 5 August, 9am, Donkey Wheel House, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne. Cost: Free.

2. Doing good is good for business

This 90-minute marketing workshop will show small business owners why you should incorporate a social responsibility strategy into your business model, how it can improve the lives of others and boost your brand's reputation, and how it can allow you to attract and retain quality staff.

Date and venue: Wednesday 10 August, 5.30pm, Donkey Wheel House, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne. Cost: $40.

3. Women leading businesses to success

Be inspired by this panel discussion on female leadership in business. Panelists Michelle Bourke, Founder and CEO at Artlivemedia; Charlotte Petris, Founder and CEO of Timelio; and Sarah Hamilton, Founder and CEO of Bellabox will share their experiences of leading successful startups and offer tips to boost diversity within small businesses.

Date and venue: Wednesday 10 August, 6pm, RACV City Club, Bourke St. Cost: $49.

4. Small Business BIG Marketing

The Festival's premier event is designed to help both nubile and established startups develop marketing ideas, be exposed to the latest trends and techniques and learn from stories of successes and failures. This year the speakers are Holly Ransom, CEO of Emergent; advertising guru and co-founder of Sendle Craig Davis; Dr Jason Fox, bestselling author of The Game Changer; and Yvonne Adele, Business consultant and The Today Show's Ms Megabyte.

Date and venue: Thursday 11 August, 7.45am to 1.00pm, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, South Wharf. Cost: $60 single.

Sendle Co founder Craig Davis will be one of four keynote speakers at Small Business BIG Marketing.

5. InstaJam: Strategies to grow your business on Instagram

Instagram has been the key to many small business success stories. This three-hour workshop will teach you how to grow your following, best practice for posting, how to use hashtags and doing it all without spending all day every day glued to your phone.

Date and venue: Friday 12 August, 10am, The Cowork Co, 421 Lygon St, Brunswick. Cost: $45.

6. Working from home? Things you need to know

Running your business from home is cost-effective and convenient -- but what are your legal obligations of operating from your house or apartment? In this free webinar, the Victorian Small Business Commissioner will give a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about your startup from a legal and compliance perspective.

Date: Tuesday 23 August, 12.30pm. Cost: Free.

7. Franchising and business opportunities expo

Want to get into small business but you'd prefer for someone to have your back when it comes to making the big decisions? Buying into a franchise might be the way to go. Check out this two-day expo packed with free seminars.

Date and venue: Friday 26 August - Sunday 28 August, Melbourne Exhibition Centre. Cost: $10.

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Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak will be a guest of the Small Business Festival Victoria.

8. Victorian Digital Innovation Week

This week-long program showcases the brightest and most inspiring innovations from entrepreneurs, students and national innovators with events such as Digital Learning Showcase 2016, iAwards Innovation Day and an evening with Silicon Valley alumni and Apple innovator Steve "Woz" Wozniak.

Dates and times: 27 August to 2 September, various venues. Cost: Events range from free to $180.

For the full program visit the Small Business Festival Victoria website. The Festival runs from August 1-31.