Ever thought of receiving any financial support to boost your business startup? Well, if you are planning on a small business startup, then you must be acquainted with small business grants.
Initiating a business startup can be pretty complicated. On top of that, the procedures of small business grants can be even more confusing. This article will help you out of the inconveniences and help you guide you about how to apply for small business grant and the other related details. So better glue your eyes to this content, and by the end of it, you will be able to decide what works the best for your business.
Small Business Grants: All Necessary Information
We are discussing all necessary details to get approved for small business grants in federal as well as state and local government.
What is a small business grant?
Small businesses grant is a financial funding scheme that is provided to qualified small business entrepreneurs.
Usually, the federal or state governments, profit, or non-profit organizations provide monetary funding to small startup companies in order to flourish and expand their business premises. The most attractive part is that grants require no provision of repayment obligations. So, unlike other financial loans, there is no botheration with the interests as well.
What are the categories of small business grants?
It would not be justifiable to literally call grants as “free money” due to the fact that they require a lot of effort and time. The possibility of getting entitled to a specific small business grant is to fit into their categorization. So, if your business scheme matches their requirements, then there is a high probability of getting accepted. Here is a list of some significant categories of grants, and see for yourself which one of these is your ultimate match.
Types of small business grants
There may be a lot of small business grants. Among these, the major and the common ones are given below.
- The government initiated grants –
- Federal grants
- State grants
- Local or regional grants
- Grants for women
- Grants for veterans
- Grants for minorities
- Grants for immigrants
- Grants for non-profit organizations
There are also many types of small business grants, but these are some of the major types of grants.
Government initiated grants
The governmental grants are entitled in three distinctive forms. These are discussed below briefly, along with their examples.
1. Federal small business grants:
Among all the governmental grants, federal grants usually offer the highest funding; thus, the competition is also intense. Due to their association with governmental agencies, they provide strict requirements. These requirements can be pretty intimidating to the applicants. The competition here might be intense, but the opportunities are immense. So, considering everything, it is worth a try if it fits right into your business category.
Types of federal small business grants:
It is an all-inclusive grant database. Various government agencies supervise their working process.
b) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and also the Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT):
SBIR and SBTT grant programs are designed to serve the purpose of the development of science and technology and similar research projects.
The rules of the federal grants are pretty straightforward.
Rules for the federal grants:
- The business must be more than fifty percent American owned.
- The applicant’s business must be located in the United States.
- The applicant needs to apply for the profit.
- The number of business employees must not exceed the limit of five hundred.
Here are some of the reasons the grants get rejected. So, to increase your chances of getting grant approval, you better avoid these mistakes.
Reasons for which the grants get rejected:
- The sole purpose of using the grant for paying off the business debts.
- Covering business management and operational expenses by using the grant money.
- Grants for expanding and starting the business.
But the federal government does approve the grant application if applied for scientific, environmental, and medical research purposes.
2. State and local small business grants:
Although the money-making opportunity is less in state and local grants compared to the federal grant, the chance of getting approval is also more in state and local grants along with less competition. If the business purpose is for the betterment and improvement of the local community, then it is more likely to get approved.
Types of state and local small business grants:
a) Economic Development Administration (EDA):
This agency aims at providing grants for economic support and technical assistance to businesses in the local communities. As a result, it helps in the establishment and growth of the local companies and motivates the innovators and entrepreneurs.
b) Small Business Development Centers ( SBDC):
This agency is associated with local universities or state economic development agencies. They provide grants to small business owners the appropriate counseling, training, and technical assistance.
Grants for women
Studies show that forty percent of the percent of first-time entrepreneurs in the United States are women. Pretty impressive, right? Not only that, but the number of women-run businesses in the United States is also growing at twice the speed of the man-owned ones. But are they getting paid equal to that of the men?
The answer is negative. In startup worlds, women owners hardly get fundings. But due to the women-only financing options, changes can be seen. The women-only incubators and accelerators offer various combinations of funding, safer workplace environment, training, and mentorship.
Here’s a list of a few women-only grants where investors are more interested in investing in women-founded startups and equity financing platforms.
Types of grants for women:
1. Databases of grant:
Unfortunately, most of the time, grant databases are not available due to their specific timelines.
It is explicitly entitled to women-run businesses and non -profits.
Its flaw is that it is not specifically designed for women. It actually has the function to find out what is available and the best deal for your business type.
2. Business grants for women:
a) InnovateHER Challenge:
It is actually run by the Small Business Association (SBA).
b) SBA Women’s Business Centers:
Ensures the accessibility of the women-based businesses to the maximum types of funding.
c) Amber grant:
Enables $ 500 to almost $ 1,000 worth of funding per month to the women-owned small businesses.
d) GIRLBOSS Foundation Grant:
A very unique name for the women-owned grant. It awards approximately $ 15,000 to the businesses associated with arts, music, and fashion.
3. Women-only incubators and accelerators:
Monarq is a women-only startup incubator. It offers investment worth $ 25,000.
Mergelane’s accelerator manages to raise funding worth $ 23.8 Million.
4. Investors in women-only startups:
a) X Squared Angels:
X Squared Angels is an investment group which is Ohio based. It mostly focuses on women-centric startup business plans.
b) 37 Angels:
37 Angels group has a record of investing $ 50,000 to $ 150,000 per startup. To determine fit for the fund, the applicants require to attend a 20 minutes phone call.
c) Belle Capital USA:
It also invests in women-owned business startups.
5. Women-only crowdfunding sites:
It is a women-only crowdfunding site that offers a pay-it-forward model and other more variations.
It offers loans worth $ 5,500 per year to companies with a woman as a CEO or any other leading position.
As time progresses, the list goes on.
Rules to qualify for grants for women:
These are some of the rules which an applicant must abide by in order to ensure that her grants get approval.
- The applicants of the grants must be 18 years or older.
- The business must have a woman as a founder and in the leading role.
- Better to be in the early stage of development, mostly in the first five years.
- Must obtain at least one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
- Ensure that the business falls under the profit business category, which has been producing revenue for at least one year. The fundraiser scheme should not exceed the limit of two million dollars.
Grants for veterans:
The veteran grants are usually government-funded and are very limited and less accessible. So, by the time when you are reading this post, these grants may or may not be available as grants are allocated for a specific period, so their availability can be uncertain. But, facts prove that veteran grants offer excellent financial opportunities.
Types of veteran grants:
1. State-specific small business grants for veterans :
If you do some extensive research, then you will find the ones located in your own state. For example:
a) Ohio Veteran Grants
b) Veteran-friendly Business Enterprise (VBE) program
2. Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Programs ( and other resources):
The Institute of Veterans and Military Families aid this program.
3. The Entrepreneurship Boot-camp for Veterans:
The Entrepreneurship Boot Camps for Veterans is designed for serving the post 9/11 vets and their spouses. This program runs free of cost.
4. Veterans Institute for Procurement (VIP):
It includes three training programs under it: VIP GROW, VIP START, and VIP INTERNATIONAL.
5. Vets In Tech:
It is basically a private training program. It helps to connect the present and returning veterans with reintegration services.
6. Veterans Business Services:
It helps the veterans start a business by providing sufficient franchising, marketing required for the company.
7. Veterans Business Resource Centers:
Offers business plans, sales, human resource management, along with webinars and professional counseling.
8. Government-funded business loans for veterans:
9. SBA’s Veterans Advantage Loans:
This loan can be worth $ 350,000. It includes two programs, which are SBA 7(a) and SBA Express.
a) SBA 7 (a) loan
b) SBA Express
10. Private business loans for veterans:
b) Hivers and strivers
Grants for immigrants and minorities
The small business grant opportunities are so mere and almost limited for the immigrants and those of the minority groups living in the United States. The options might be less, but there are endless opportunities if the grants get approved. So, if you belong to the immigrants or minority groups, better check out Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The federal government supports MBDA.
Grants for non-profit organizations
There are more options as well as more chances of grant availability if it comes to non-profit businesses as they have no other profit resources, so they get their grant approved pretty easily. Most grants are time-specific, so before applying, it is advised to check GrantWatch.com. This site is an excellent resource for finding your ideal grant that matches your non-profit business.
How to apply for small business grant?
Applying for a small business grant might look like a lot of work and effort. In reality, if you manage to categorize all the available grants and plan systematically, then it is not even that hard. So, don’t just sit back and waste your time. Assemble all your plans just like a to-do list and get started. Here are the steps that can make your work a lot easier.
Steps to consider before applying for small business grants:
If these steps are followed carefully, then the probability of receiving the grant of choice increases.
Step 1: Search for the most eligible grant:
It is better to explore all the available options considering your business type. Then choose the one that gets the highest tick marks in your boxes. Do not forget to go through all the terms and conditions along with all the crucial requirement details like time, qualifications, etc. Take your time and narrow down your choices accordingly.
Step 2: Research:
One of the most important and essential steps to successfully get your grant approved is doing proper research. After you set your mind on your ideal type of grant, all you have to do next is research. It is just like preparing yourself before the exams. You can know the estimation of your chances of being lucky with your desired grant by contacting the awarding body. Go through all the instructions, and don’t forget to have a look at the reviews if there are any.
Step 3: Explain the executive summary:
Write a precise business summary that you have in your mind and explain to the reviewer all the crucial details about your business. An appropriate business summary will help the reviewer to get a complete idea about your business scheme and make a decision.
If you have any confusion regarding the writing procedure of a business executive summary, then the format is given below.
Tips to write a good executive summary:
• Explain about your business type-
Throw some details about your business product, its service, quality, serving the purpose, and how the grant can actually help to reach the business goal.
• Mention the market type and demographics-
There’s no way to underestimate the business demographics, ways to expand the business, how the plan works. So, these must be mentioned.
• Give a small outline of your management and operation-
Clarify your costing plans regarding all your working employees, the exact number of employees, your business location, etc., to maintain transparency with the grant provider.
These steps will help to create a good impression.
Step 4: Prepare all the legal business licenses:
There is a wise saying that prevention is better than cure. In the case of starting a business, it is wise to be always well prepared. To prevent any legal hassles, prepare all the necessary legal business licenses and permits. Legal licenses vary
according to the different types of businesses. During applying for the business grants, make sure you are prepared with all the legal documents and licenses.
Step 5: Choose a competent and active team:
Carefully choose your employees and outline their positions according to their subsequent posts. If you are more interested in outsourced work rather than hiring staff, then go for an independent contractor agreement. An attorney can help you with the contractor agreement process.
Step 6: Select a suitable business location:
It is one of the best ideas to research for a suitable business location. Consider some important factors before choosing one. Select a location that fits right with your costing, target market, benefits, and most importantly, your personal preferences.
Step 7: Carefully select a business name:
Before selecting a perfect business name, keep certain points in mind. Firstly, the business name should be unique so that it does not match with any other businesses. The business name should reflect your business type and reputation.
Step 8: Make sure you open a business bank account:
Once you have set your mind to start your own business, make sure you open a business account. It will help you to stay legally protected.
Step 9: Apply for your ideal grant:
The applicant will receive a series of related questions on the application form. As the replying pattern can be a deciding factor, so make sure that the replies to the answers are thoughtful. Only then it will create a positive impact on the reviewer.
If the applicant’s vision matches with the grant provider, there’s a high chance of getting positive responses.
Step 10: Track the application:
It is possible to track your application with the ” track your application ” page. This page requires your tracking number to locate your submission and also provide you with all the necessary information.
So, these are the basic guidelines to follow while applying for a small business grant.
Some useful tips for your small business grant:
- Carefully read the language of the grant. Follow the pattern of the language.
- Reply in the same language. The reply must be thoughtful and precise.
- Be careful with all the necessary documents that the grant requires. Never ever apply for any grant for your business without complete documents.
These useful tips will increase your chances of getting your desired grants.
Pros and cons of small business grants:
To many of the startup business owners, small business grants might sound very lucrative. In reality, there are more cons than those pros in the case of small business grants. Let’s go through all the pros and cons of small business grants and then make the decision.
Let’s start with the pros of small business grants.
Pros of small businesses grants:
The pros of small business grants are given below.
• Free of cost-
If the grants get approved, then the entrepreneur receives financial support from the respective grant. It is a money-saving scheme which turns out to be a lot more helpful for small business owners.
• No, repay obligation
Grants do not require any repayment. The grant provider does not get anything in return. As a result, owners of small businesses find this feature of the small business grant pretty tempting.
• No hassles of the loan-
The grant receiver can enjoy the grant and all the facilities that come along with it without providing any loans. It is definitely in favor of the grant receiver who owns a small business.
Tips to build and grow small businesses-
Most of the grants offer schemes that allow the expansion and development of the businesses. They also arrange training programs, counseling, and technical assistance. These can surely help to improve the business conditions.
Now, let’s go through the cons of small business grants, which are more in number than that of the pros of small business grants. Let’s have a look.
Cons of small business grants:
The cons of small business grants are given below.
• Complex categorization with strict eligibility rules-
Before applying for any grant, make sure you meet all the necessary eligibility requirements beforehand. As a result, this will definitely save you from most of the hassles. Again, the grant providers are extremely strict with the requirement details and not ready to compromise under any circumstances.
• Complicated applying procedure and purpose justification –
The applicant must go through a lot of details. It includes the purpose of the business grant, the market demographics, allocated budget, how the plan works, product specifications, etc. All the steps are incredibly complicated on the part of the applicants.
• Lengthy and time-consuming process-
The inordinate amount of paper works can be extremely time-consuming and exhausting for an applicant. Due to the lengthy procedures, many applicants lose their interests.
• The ultimate wait game-
After all the time-consuming procedures, then comes the part of waiting for the responses. It might take even a longer duration and can be very frustrating, especially if you own a small business.
• Prepare yourself for the fierce competition –
As time progresses, so does the number of small businesses. As a result, the competition can become very tough when you tend to apply for the popular grants. So, it is better to know the strength of your business and choose your grants wisely.
• Constant assessment –
Once you get assigned, there will always be constant monitoring of your business progress. There might be chances of constant interference in decision making which might not sit right with some of the business owners.
These are all about the pros and cons of small business grants, which should be taken into consideration.
The Bottom Line
Before applying for any sort of grant, you need to seek expert advice. The process of a grant application can be pretty intimidating. If you find yourself struggling with any grant-related issues, entitle yourself to grant- writing classes, conferences, and workshops. It will surely help you fix your doubt and make you confident enough to deal with grant application decisions. These events can also connect you with the grant writers and funders. By doing so, you can also imprint a positive impression on their minds even before submitting an application. Assess appropriately before making a decision.
I hope that my article helped you to get an adequate idea about small business grants and how to apply for small business grant.
If there are any queries or concerns related to this post, comment down in the comment section below.