Starting or expanding a small business often requires a capital investment. While loans are an option, grants can provide funding without the repayment obligations and interest associated with loans. If you’re looking to get your small business off the ground or fund upcoming projects, here are some tips for finding and successfully applying for grants.
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Types of Small Business Grants
There are grants available in many categories that could apply to your business:
General small business grants – Offered by government agencies and nonprofit groups to support local economic development and encourage entrepreneurship. These have broad eligibility requirements.
Minority & women business grants – Target business owners who are women and/or members of minority groups, like veteran grants and LGBTQ grants.
Industry-specific grants – For businesses in certain industries like tech startups, manufacturing, healthcare, fashion, restaurants, etc.
Equipment grants – Help companies purchase necessary equipment and machines like commercial kitchen gear for restaurants or tech for manufacturers.
Training grants – Provide funding for employee training and development programs to build workforce skills.
Where to Find Small Business Grants
Finding grants takes research across multiple sources. Places to look include:
– Federal agencies like the SBA, USDA, and HHS
– State and local economic development agencies
– Small business associations and chambers of commerce
– Lending institutions and CDFIs (community development financial institutions)
– University and community college business centers
– Private foundations and nonprofit organizations
– Business.gov’s grant search tool
Sign up for email alerts and newsletters from these types of organizations to stay on top of grant opportunities. Follow grant-related hashtags on social media. Many grants cycle annually, so plan submissions for well in advance.
How to Apply for a Small Business Grant
Putting together a winning grant application takes time but following some best practices can help:
Carefully read all instructions – Don’t miss critical deadlines, formatting rules, or required documents. Submit exactly what they ask for.
Make a compelling case – Share your business and funding needs in a clear, concise way. Convey experience, community impact, and how funding helps achieve goals.
Prove financial responsibility – Submit recent tax returns, profit/loss statements, business plans, and other documents showing you can manage funds responsibly.
Quantify your impact– Use data and metrics to illustrate how your company benefits the community through job creation, economic growth, and other positive outcomes.
Follow up appropriately– Don’t harass grant providers but do check in around decision timelines stated in application materials. Be gracious if denied.
Applying for small business grants takes diligence and polish. The investment of time can really pay off for companies needing a capital boost to take their venture to the next level. With a well-crafted application, securing grant funding is an achievable path to pursue.