Small business grants are popular and competitive among entrepreneurs that are starting up a new business on a shoestring. Their funds are limited and they often have little access to capital. Trying to find a grant is time consuming in a variety of ways. Looking for a grant that is just right for your business can take weeks, months or even years to find. Then you have to fill out the application correctly. Applications are often denied if incorrectly filled out. Once you submit your application you then have to play the waiting game. Those who offer small business grants often receive an overwhelming amount of applications and it may take months to sort through them. You may apply for more than one grant at a time to increase your chances. Below are some steps to take when applying for small business grants.
Take the time to develop a business plan. A business plan lets the grantor know you are serious about your business and that you have given it some thought. A plan will also help you when deciding what type of small business grants to apply for.
Once you have a business plan in place determine the appropriate funding organization to apply to. Look for small business grants that are in sync with your business plan, such as education or non-profit.
Search for small business grants from federal, state or local government sites. Also look for grants from community organizations and private small companies along with larger national companies. Another resource is your local Small Business Association (SBA) or Small Business Development Center (SBDC). They should have access to small business grants information from the government and community.
Before applying for any grant, take the time to be sure your company meets the small business grant requirements, such as an organization grant versus an individual grant.
Make a plan on how you will approach asking for a grant. Find a way to let the organization know about your company and intentions before asking for money. This is best done by creating relationships through visits, phone calls and letters to inquire about small business grants.
Create a proposal that is well-written and points out your company’s objectives. Include your strategic business plan and projected budget.
If possible, apply for small business grants through the grantor’s website. The grant application will reach them quicker and there will probably be detailed instruction on how to fill out the form to assure you provide complete information. Some might even have a pre-screening test to help prevent applying for a grant that you do not qualify for, saving yourself and the grantor time.
If you have questions about the grant, look for a “Frequently Asked Question” (FAQ) page before calling or sending an email. Most grantors do not mind answering questions but if you ask one that has been asked a lot and is included on the FAQ page this could reflect negatively on you.
Sources and Citations
Most online applications will issue a document number to verify your submitted application. Be sure and keep this in a safe place for future reference. You might not be able to make inquiries on the status of your application without it.
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