One of the challenges of running a small business is to keep it funded. You can use your own savings, tap friends and family, or get a bank loan. But one source you may not have considered is government grants. Start with these insights into getting government grants for small business.
Get Government Grants for Small Business
The 411 About Government Grants
Federal, state and local governments offer grants in various amounts. Some are available to small businesses that meet certain conditions. For example, there are grants for businesses owned by under-represented groups, like women or veterans. Others are for specific purposes, like adding energy-efficient lighting. The Small Business Administration does not offer grants for starting or expanding a business, but they do offer loans.
The biggest advantage of grants is that they do not have to be repaid. While it may not be enough to cover everything, it can be a valuable supplement. It may also give you the credibility to apply for more traditional loans.
Grants also have disadvantages. The application process can be time consuming. Be prepared to provide a solid business case with supporting documentation. And you may need to wait for an answer. Some grants have conditions attached. For example, you may have to secure matching funds.
Where to Find Information
One of the challenges in getting a grant is finding one for which you are eligible. Grants.gov lets you search grants by a number of categories. In addition, Fundera offers this list of 108 small business grants. Here are examples of some grants from various government entities:
Federal grants – Available only to non-commercial organizations (non-profits and educational institutions) in areas such as medicine, education, scientific research, or technology.
- Small Business Innovation Research Program – For businesses that engage in research and development that has commercial potential
- Small Business Technology Transfer Program – Similar program but the small business must collaborate with a research institute
- Minority Business Development Agency – Grant competitions for minority-owned businesses
State grants – These are geared toward a state’s economic or social concern. Many require you to match the grant. Other states do not give grants to specific businesses but provide grants to fund agencies that support small businesses. Check your state’s official web page and search for grants or programs.
- Idaho State Trade Expansion Program – Focuses on small businesses that export trade outside the state
- Arkansas Technology Transfer Assistance Grant Program – Assists businesses develop or improve their products and processes through the transfer of technical solutions to technology-based problems
- Nebraska Recycling Equipment Grants – Provides funds to select organizations for the purchase of recycling equipment
- SBA Women’s Business Centers – Network of over 100 educational centers that help women learn about starting a small business. Use this link to locate a center in your state.
Tips for Applying
Once you’ve found a grant that you’re eligible for, here are some quick tips to help you through the process:
- Contact the organization directly to get more information. They will have specific instructions on completing the application. Follow the format given so it is easy for them to read and assess your request.
- Present a compelling case for your small business. Each grant is targeted at a specific objective. For example, it might be creating jobs within a community. So, present a sales pitch that demonstrates why your business can uniquely meet that goal.
- Have someone else look at the application before submitting it. A fresh eye will likely uncover misspellings, grammatical errors, or when something is not clear.
- Follow-up with the grant office once you’ve submitted the application. It will give you an opportunity to provide any additional information.
Securing a grant for your small business takes commitment. But it can be a great way to supplement the funding you need. Start by digging in with this information to find a grant that will work for your small business, and then stick with it.