You have come up with a brilliant business idea. You know in your gut that you have the idea for the next big bakery, boutique, or blog. In fact, you have done the research, written a business plan, and crafted a brand identity. You are roaring and ready to go! The only thing that is standing in your way is your lack of funds.
Whether you are waiting to start a business or are a new business owner, most likely you are going to run into some cash flow problems from time to time. Loans can be difficult to obtain and finding an investor might be something you aren’t ready for. A business grant might be the solution to your money problems and give you the momentum you need to make your business a success. Before you start making your wish list of what you will purchase after you receive your grant, take a look at what the process is like and if a grant is the right fit for you and your business!
The Money Is Yours To Keep
The beauty of a grant is that unlike a loan, you don’t have to pay anyone back or give any portion of your business in exchange for the grant. If you see a grant that has strings attached, run in the other direction.
You Have To Compete
If you are strapped for time, then grants may be a big gamble for you. Unfortunately, they require you to compete against other potential recipients. This means you could be spending a lot of time on a proposal that may lead nowhere. If the grant allows the public to vote, then you also will have to commit time to promoting your proposal. Before you apply for a grant, do your research on how much competition you will likely have and how much time you will have to commit to the process.
Find Your Niche
There are more grants out there then you could ever apply for and the competition is steep. To improve your chances of landing a grant, look for more niche business grants. There are plenty out there for female entrepreneurs, different ethnicities, and every business type. The grants can get very specific so feel free to narrow your search. For example, there are grants out there just for single moms. Pop open your search engine and type in “business grant for” plus anything special about you or your business. Or check out a grant specific search engine. The results might surprise you!
Improve your chances of winning a grant by looking for business grants in your specific niche.
Because there are fewer grants than people who apply for them, there are usually very specific qualifications and application guidelines. It is important that you know exactly what the application requires, what the grant is geared towards, and what you are expected to use the money for. Many organizations have strict guidelines and reporting measures to make sure that recipients are using the money wisely. Some grants also require you to be able to match the financial award or combine the grant with other forms of financing. Before you even apply, make sure you meet all of the qualifications for the grant you are applying for.
PR May Be Included
Depending on the grant, especially ones given by large companies, you may find yourself earning more than just money. Some grants come with free publicity! Sophia Amoruso’s #Girlboss Foundation awards grants on a bi-annual basis to female creatives pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors. Each grant beneficiary receives project funding for $15,000, plus exposure through the #Girlboss and Nasty Gal social channels as well as local and regional press. High profile grants like this will have bigger competition, but will also give you some much needed exposure.
Grants can be a dream come true for a struggling entrepreneur, but they can also require a lot of work and have no guarantee of a return on your investment. It is important that you are careful when conducting research and completing your application. That being said, if you find the perfect grant for your business and make your application stand out, a grant can be life changing for a small business owner.
Have you ever been awarded a business grant? We would love to hear about your experience in the comments!
featured image credit: Stock That Rocks