Do you want to know what it takes to apply for a grant successfully? If YES, here’s a guaranteed guide on how to get government grants for your small business.
Government grants are one of those things that everyone talks about yet hardly ever pursue. Most people will be amazed at the amount of money that the government allots each year specifically for grants which are given out to specific genders, minorities or small business owners just to mention but a few.
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Why Go Through the Stress of Applying for a Government Grant?
The united states government is very keen on helping small businesses grow because they contribute to economic development and provision of employment. This is why it often offers free money to small business owners to grow their businesses.
One interesting thing about government grants is that they are neither debt nor equity. This means that you don’t have to give up your business in other to secure the grant nor do you have to repay the grant at a future date.
There are over a thousand grants that can be applied for in 26 different categories that are overseen and superintended by the appropriate federal agencies. Whether you are looking to get funding for a non-profit organization or to launch a small business, the process is more or less the same.
Why are Majority of Government Grant Application Denied?
Unfortunately, the majority of people do not understand how to apply for government grants. At first glance, it may seem extremely complicated thereby discouraging the majority of potential applicants from even applying in the first instance. Others will try once, but without the right proposal, they will lose out to someone who is more competitive and who did their homework thoroughly.
Furthermore, there are a lot of deceitful and out rightly false information on who is qualified to get a grant and on how someone can go about applying for a grant. Even though grants are provided for the betterment of the entire country, it is worthy to note that not everyone who applies is fit to receive a grant. Therefore before you apply, you have to understand what federal grant is all about and their underlying principles.
Before applying for a government grant, you should bear in mind that the grants are issued by the government with the intention of benefiting a particular region or community as opposed to benefiting the entrepreneur. For example, if a community is in need of child care services, the government will be more likely to give a grant to business owners whose ideas are in line with its developmental goals.
Before you apply, you will have to know the following;
2 Hard Facts to Know Before Applying for Government Grant for Small Business
i. Grants Are Not for Everyone
Grants are given to groups or individuals who meet a very specific criterion. The idea behind grants is not about offering free money which individuals can use to purchase luxury item or even houses. However, the government will provide block grants and other types of grants that will help community projects and that will enable low income families to find affordable housing.
That is to say that most grants of this type are offered to non-profit organizations. But don’t be discouraged just yet; federal and state grants can also be made available to individuals who fall within the scope of what the agency has to offer.
Government grants are classified into two main categories:
- Direct government grant: This type of grant is offered directly to the person or organization who applied to receive the grant.
- Pass through grant: These types of grants are awarded to the state government who will then have to vet individuals or organization and then award them the grant as they deem fit.
The type of grant will vary depending on the organization and your personal situation. Popular grants that are given out by the federal government include; education, disaster relief and prevention, energy, environmental quality, housing, natural resources, regional development, agriculture, community development, research, among others.
2. Determine your Agency
The next thing you need to do is to determine the type of agency that has the grant you intend to go for, if the grant will be coming directly from the federal government or if it will be going through the state government. Obtaining this information is however not so easy. The best way to find information about grants is through one of the government websites such as grants.gov. Sometimes the information is listed by a broad federal category and sometimes you may be able to look under the state or community in which you live in.
More often than not, there are a couple of search options to choose from. If you are not sure of the category that your search is under, try the basic search option. Most well-known federal government grant websites will offer you this option. You can then go to the browse by agency category or an advanced search. If you know which agency offers the grant, you can then go ahead to make use of the advanced search option. The more detailed you make your search, the more likely you are to find a grant if it is available.
There are a number of things that can exponentially improve your chances of getting a grant. They include;
10 Tips That Will Help Increase Your Chances of Getting a Small Business Government Grant
1. Find Out If You Qualify
It is important for you to note that the Federal Government would not offer you grants for paying off your business debts, or for starting a business. The government doesn’t offer grants for expanding your business or covering your operating expenses either.
Government grants are exclusively offered to businesses in specific industries such as medical research industry, scientific research, and environmental protection industries. The reason for this is because the funds offered as government grants are gotten from tax-dollars paid by US citizens and it is strictly controlled and appropriated by the White House, and Congress.
Only businesses whose agendas are in line with those of the government are offered grants. So, if the government is looking to double up its environmental protection efforts, only innovative businesses that help it to achieve these specific goals would be offered grants. So the first thing you need to do is to find out if your business ideas or funding requirements are in line with any of the current agendas of the Federal or State Government.
2. Find Available Grant Offers: There are a number of sources that you can use to search for available grants. For Federal Government grants, grants.gov is your best bet. It is a database where you can find thousands of online grant programs that are currently available. For state and local government grants, you can contact your state economic development agency for available opportunities.
3. Understand the Grant Objectives: The purpose of each grant is different from the next. It is important to find out why each grant is being awarded, and what the government aims to achieve, before you begin your application process.
4. Have a Plan in place
Government won’t just hand you money because you think that you need it. You will need to present a detailed plan of what you intend to use the fund for. The agencies will need to see that you have a plan that can turn the grant into something that is viable and worthwhile.
The most important document you need to be able to prove that you deserve the business grant is your business plan. Your business plan would help the grants board to easily understand your business objectives, past performances, owners antecedents, and most importantly, why you deserve to be awarded the grant. Don’t forget to highlight the reasons for the funds, and how it would contribute to the betterment of the society, or development of the economy.
Also you have to present the possible contributions that your business will provide to the economy if you get the grant. The contributions your business offer can be through hiring staff, advancing regional economic development, community benefits etc.
5. Figure Out a Budget: Make sure that you have a budget that is to a large extent a representative of the cost that is required. To do that, you will need to find out the current prices of whatever business you intend to use the grant for. You will also need to present a timeline of how you intend to spend the money as time goes on.
6. Look for the Least Amount of Competition: Looking for the best brand available may not always be the option. Instead, checkout smaller groups and you will drastically reduce your competition thereby making it easier to get the grant. You can narrow your search down with race, gender or occupation to find more specific government grants.
7. Get Some Reliable Help: Whether it is in form of a website or blog that offers detailed information on grants or a mentor who will coach you or even an e-book, you will be far more successful at getting the grant if you know what you are getting into. Also, look for tutorials to help get you through some complicated processes.
8. Tailor Your Grant Proposal to Grant Objectives
A grant proposal letter is a formal letter that you would need to write, and present to the government explaining what your business is all about, who you are, and why you want the grant to be given to you. It is similar to a business proposal, or a cover letter for job applications.
It should be written in formal language, and it should give short, straight-to-the-point explanations. Most people hire experts to write their grant proposal for them but it is not something you cannot write yourself. You just need to ensure that your proposal is tailored to the specific objectives of the grant.
9. Think Like your Reviewer
Some reviews (example education) for grants are conducted by a panel of reviewers. Usually the grant reviewers have a lot of reviews to vet and they have to get it done in a limited amount of time. The implication of this is that the reviewers may not have the time to take a detailed look at your proposal.
They will probably read it just once and skim through the most relevant sections twice or so and make notes and draft questions while scoring it section by section. The aforementioned process is done individually and after that, the scores are then aggregated to make a final score.
This just goes to show that the proposal you put forward must be detailed and attention grabbing else it will end up getting a tepid score. You need to show your reviewer that you have done your homework properly. To make your application standout, you should build a great program provide solutions to a problem. Show in unambiguous terms the relevance your business will have on the community.
10. Submit Application Early
The earlier you submit your application, the better for you because there are usually hundreds if not thousands of other applicants to compete with. If you can submit your proposal early, you would able to get yourself a spot where your application would be one of the first few to be perused, and that way, you would stand a better chance of getting your application approved.
Don’t forget to submit supporting documents, as well as any other documents that would help to support your needs and claims along with your grant application too.
Steps to Applying for Federal Government Grants for Small Business
After spending time searching through the various options on the agency’s website and you have found the grant that you will like to apply for, you can click on the apply button. When you do this, it will take you to an online application form which may work in a few different ways. Sometimes, you can complete the application process online while in other times you will be sent an application package that will need to be manually completed and sent back with a signature and date.
Application packages do vary as they can be actual paperwork or an electronic application process. Sometimes, you can download the application package which is quicker than having it mailed to you. Also, many of such sites will offer to give you automatic notifications whenever a new grant is available.
For example, if you are looking for an agricultural grant, you will receive an email anytime new money is legislated in that particular category. In other words, as soon as funds are available in that category, you will be immediately notified by email. Some of these services are free and some are subscription based.
When trying to get a government grant, it is best to avoid those flashy adverts and infomercials. There are many reliable websites out there that are dedicated to helping applicants find government grants, so with contentious research, anyone can be able to find the latest government grant if and when they are available. You can also find information on what type of grant is available in the government’s grants portal but you will not be able to submit an application there.
Keep in mind that most federal grants are issued by non-profit or charitable organizations and these are the group you will need to get in touch with. For this reason, take the information you will find on the government website for the type of grant you are looking for and then find the organization that is distributing the funding.
Federal government grants are available and can offer you the financial assistance you need. It is just a matter of finding the agency authorized to fund the grant, fitting the criteria and submitting a winning application within the specified period of time. There are a lot of government grants, and if you use the aforementioned tips, you will be able to get the grant. Why let someone else get the money that you could use to startup your business?
In conclusion, there are a lot of private agencies and non-profit organizations that offer grants to small businesses. If you are unable to qualify for government grants, you can try any of these private agencies as you may find it easier to get grants for your small business from them.