How to Find and Apply For a Small Business Grant
Starting a new small business requires a lot of thought and planning. In addition to having a solid business plan, you also need to find the funding to get your startup off the ground. There are several ways to get financing for your business, and one option new business owners can look into is a small business grant.
Small business grants are issued by government and nonprofit organizations and do not require repayment. Now it’s true that eligibility requirements are strict, and that the applicant pool is competitive for small business grants. That said, if you are well qualified for a grant and are selected, it can be a dream come true for you and your business idea.
There are many grants available for different types of business and groups of people. Examples include businesses that are:
- Woman, veteran or minority-owned
- Green and sustainable
- Research and development-driven
Start Researching Grants
You can begin researching grants on your own right away. There are small business grants available through the government that can be found through the Small Business Administration. Here, you will find grants like the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, as well as the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) to help with export development. The SBA has several other grant programs in addition to those listed.
Another way to find potential grant opportunities is the search tool on Grants.gov. You can use the filters to narrow your search down to grants available for small business owners in your field. There are also grant programs and contests you can explore, including the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest and the Visa Everywhere Initiative.
How to Start the Small Business Grant Application Process
Once you find a grant you are eligible for, you’ll want to collect everything you need for each step of the application process and ensure that you can complete it before the grantor’s deadline. Here are some things you can do to get the process started off on the right foot:
1. Don’t Go It Alone
There are several ways to get free help. Your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) can provide you with free business consulting to help you through the grant process, including finding grants for which you are eligible. They also provide free and at-cost training, help with business planning and more. As you get further into the application process, it may be necessary to hire a professional accountant or attorney to make sure you’re completing the application correctly.
2. Do Your Homework
Before applying, review all the grant requirements and make sure that you and your business are both eligible to receive the grant. Know the deadlines and what documents will be required. Most applications ask for a business plan that includes financial projections.
3. Write Your Grant Proposal
This is where your passion and knowledge of your business get to shine. Your grant proposal needs to show that you have a solid business plan and why you and your business are eligible for the grant. A successful grant proposal may include the following sections:
- Summary – A quick overview of the grant proposal.
- Business overview.
- Statement of need – Explain why your business needs funding. You’ll want to be able to show why your business is meeting a consumer need as well.
- Goals and objectives.
- Program design – Explain how your business works and how you will achieve your goals.
- Evaluation – Show the criteria for how you will evaluate the business’s success.
- Additional funding – Show the grantor where additional and future funding will come from.
- Budget – Give the grantor a snapshot of how much money your startup will need to get off the ground.
If you’re not an experienced grant writer, you can either hire one or learn how to write it yourself with help from your local SBDC office.
To learn more about applying for small business grants to get your startup off the ground, check out the SBA website or get in contact with your local SBDC today.
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