Business grant tips and suggestions:
The federal government supports entrepreneurs and small businesses through grants administered by 26 different federal agencies. Each year, these agencies publish more than 1,000 different grant opportunities that are open to small businesses. Thousands more business grant opportunities are offered through state and local agencies.
Make no mistake about though--while yes, there are billions of dollars in small business grants available every year, it's not the 'government money free-for-all' that some people would have you believe. Governmental agencies don't just give away 'free' money with no strings attached, and they don't have billions of dollars in grants set aside just for women, minorities and people who want to start a business or pay off debts. The majority of federal government grants given to small businesses are awarded specifically to support research and development activities.
When researching potential government business grant opportunities on the Internet be wary of scams because there are lots of them. There are countless websites promising access to 'free government money,' 'cash to start or expand a business' or 'free government grants for women or minorities.' Steer clear of these sites, especially if they want you to purchase a subscription or book with 'insider's secrets to free government money,' or something similar.
All of the information about government business grant programs is available online for free. You don't need to purchase any special 'guide' and there are no 'insider's secrets' to finding government business grant opportunities.
Here are a few tips to help you along in your quest for small business grants:
- Protect yourself from scams by being cautious and researching the companies behind the opportunities. Make sure they have a street address, phone number, email address and that they are not going to make you pay to apply. You never have to pay to apply for a grant. Some websites may be selling access to 'how-to' guides or listings of grants resources, which is fine as long as you know what you're purchasing beforehand and you are not paying to submit an actual grant application. Although all information about government grants is publicly available and can be accessed for free, some people may want to invest a few dollars and access someone else's research. Use common sense when reviewing these websites (Is the website professionally developed? Are there lots of spelling errors? Are you purchasing a recurring subscription that is going to be difficult to cancel?). If you have any questions or doubts, contact the website and ask them. If they don't promptly respond to your inquiry, it's a good signal that the site might be a scam.
- You'll have to be patient. Researching and accessing business grants is a time-consuming and lengthy process. It doesn't happen overnight. In some cases the process from start to finish (when you actually get cash in hand) can take up to a year or more. Also, many grant opportunities are cyclical, with only one or two open windows to apply per year. You may find the perfect business grant opportunity but have to wait for the next application cycle to open.
- You need to be very thorough. Not following directions is the number one mistake business grant seekers make. This includes applying for grants for which you obviously don't qualify. Don't take the attitude of 'throwing a bunch of stuff out there, hoping something sticks,' because you'll just be wasting everyone's time, including your own. You'll also be damaging your legitimacy in the process. The best grant writing advice I ever received was follow the directions--all of them. Many business grant applications or business grant proposals are lengthy and complicated. Read, re-read and read again the directions and follow them exactly. Don't skip questions or leave out any requested information, you'll just get disqualified.
- Be optimistic and keep a positive attitude. It's easy to get discouraged and give up and quit. But just like anything else in life you'll never achieve the results you want to achieve if you don't keep a positive attitude and persist. Yes, researching and applying for small business grants can be a frustrating process but in the end, when you find success, you will realize that it all has been worthwhile.
If you would like to know how Flying Tigers can help your firm gain access to small business grants, contact us here.