Starting a small business can be a rewarding but challenging endeavour, especially when it comes to securing funding. Many small business owners struggle to find the capital they need to launch or grow their ventures. Fortunately, there are several grants available to small business owners that can help them overcome this hurdle. Grants are non-repayable funds that are awarded to businesses based on certain criteria and objectives. Unlike loans, grants do not require repayment or interest, making them an attractive option for entrepreneurs. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of grants available, how to apply for them, and some tips to increase your chances of securing funding.
Types of Grants
There are several types of grants available to small business owners, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. The main types of grants are:
These are grants offered by the government, either at the federal, state, or local level. Government grants are usually targeted towards specific industries or sectors, such as agriculture, technology, or health care. Government grants often have strict eligibility criteria and reporting requirements, and may require matching funds from the recipient. Some examples of government grants are the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, and the Rural Business Development Grants (RBDG) program .
These are grants offered by private organizations, such as corporations, foundations, or associations. Private grants are usually targeted towards specific types of businesses, such as women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, or green businesses. Private grants may have less stringent eligibility criteria and reporting requirements, but may also have more competition and lower funding amounts. Some examples of private grants are the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest, the Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program, and the Patagonia Environmental Grants Program .
These are grants offered by non-profit organizations, such as charities, NGOs, or social enterprises. Non-profit grants are usually targeted towards businesses that have a social impact, such as addressing a social or environmental problem, or serving a disadvantaged community. Non-profit grants may have more flexible eligibility criteria and reporting requirements, but may also have more specific objectives and expectations. Some examples of non-profit grants are the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, the Global Innovation Fund, and the Ashoka ChangemakerXchange .
How to Apply for Grants
The application process for grants can vary depending on the grant you’re applying for. However, there are some general steps you can take to increase your chances of securing funding:
Before applying for a grant, research the grant provider and make sure you understand their objectives and requirements. Find out what kind of businesses they are looking for, what kind of projects they are funding, and what kind of outcomes they are expecting. You can use online databases, such as [Find a grant], to search for grants that match your criteria.
Many grants have a limited amount of funding available, so it’s important to apply as early as possible. Applying early can also give you more time to prepare your application and gather the necessary documents. Some grants may have rolling deadlines, while others may have fixed deadlines. Make sure you check the deadline and submit your application before it expires.
Be detailed and specific:
When filling out your application, be sure to provide as much detail as possible about your business and how the grant will be used. Explain what your business does, what problem it solves, what market it serves, and what impact it has. Also, explain how the grant will help you achieve your goals, what activities you will undertake, what results you will deliver, and how you will measure your progress. Use data, facts, and figures to support your claims and show your credibility.
Clarity is king:
Make sure your application is clear and easy to understand. Use simple and concise language, avoid jargon and acronyms, and organize your information in a logical and coherent way. Use headings, bullet points, and tables to break up your text and highlight the key points. Proofread your application for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, and ask someone else to review it for feedback and suggestions.
Tick all the boxes:
Ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria before applying. Check the requirements for the grant, such as the type of business, the size of business, the location of business, and the industry of business. Also, check the requirements for the application, such as the format, the length, the attachments, and the signatures. Make sure you follow the instructions and guidelines carefully and comply with all the rules and regulations.
Meet the deadline:
Make sure you submit your application before the deadline. Don’t wait until the last minute to complete your application, as you may encounter technical issues, missing documents, or unforeseen circumstances. Submit your application well in advance and keep a copy of your submission confirmation. If possible, follow up with the grant provider to confirm that they have received your application and ask about the next steps.
Tips to Increase Your Chances of Securing Funding
Here are some additional tips to help you increase your chances of securing funding:
- Network: Attend events and conferences related to your industry to meet potential investors and grant providers. Networking can help you learn about new opportunities, get referrals, and build relationships. You can also use social media, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, to connect with relevant people and organizations and showcase your work and achievements.
- Build relationships: Build relationships with potential investors and grant providers by keeping in touch and updating them on your progress. Send them newsletters, reports, testimonials, or case studies to show them how your business is doing and how the grant has helped you. Express your gratitude and appreciation for their support and invite them to visit your business or attend your events. Building relationships can help you gain trust, credibility, and loyalty, and increase your chances of getting repeat or additional funding.
- Be persistent: Don’t give up if you don’t get funding on your first try. Keep applying and refining your application until you succeed. Learn from your rejections and feedback and use them to improve your application and your business. Seek out other sources of funding, such as loans, crowdfunding, or bootstrapping, to supplement your grant funding. Be persistent and resilient and don’t let failure discourage you.
Securing funding for your small business can be a challenging task, but with the right approach, it’s possible to get the funding you need. By following the steps and tips outlined in this blog post, you can increase your chances of securing a grant and take your business to the next level. Remember, grants are not the only source of funding available, and you should explore other options as well. However, grants can be a great way to boost your business and achieve your goals. We hope this blog post has been helpful and informative, and we wish you all the best in your grant application journey.