Grants for Small Business

Grants for small business start-ups or expansion of an existing business are made available by the federal government as well as through various nonprofit corporations and foundations. Although grants for small businesses are often initiated by the federal government, the responsibility for making them available to the public is generally through state, local and county agencies. The science, technology and environment sectors typically have the widest selection of grants for projects that benefit local communities in some way through research  or programs that directly involve a particular group of people in need.

Grants for small business typically fall into one of several categories such as:

  • Health and Medicine
  • Science, Technology and the Environment
  • Community and Social Services
  • The Arts, Humanities and Education

Although there is an abundance of free grant money available for a business start-up or expansion, these opportunities are often not openly publicized, making it difficult for the average small business person to find. Even if one has a specific area of expertise with years of proven experience, it can take hours of research to find the right match for your business. Caution must also be exercised in order to avoid the many grant scams that promise free grant money for a fee. Legitimate government departments and foundations do not charge grant application fees nor can they (or anyone else) guarantee that you will receive a grant. Although every granting agency will have specific criteria that must be met in order to qualify for funding, there are certain steps that will be required for any business grant or low interest loan. Understanding these common elements will make applying easier and will give you a better chance for success. Some of these steps include:

  • Business summary
  • Purpose of grant
  • Project description
  • Budget or financial statement
  • Conclusion

All these elements will need to be included in a business plan and will form an integral part of the application process. It is also recommended that you apply for as many grants that match your business profile as possible which will increase your chance of success. It is important to remember that a business plan should always be considered a work in progress and may need to be altered in order to reflect certain aspects of each individual grant application.

The more grants for small business applications that you complete, the better you will be at knowing how to put together a professional application package. View any rejections you may receive as a valuable learning opportunity. Take the time to find out from the granting agency the reason(s) why your application was not successful and use that information for the next time. All government bodies, corporations and foundations that provide grants for small business will also provide clear instructions in regards to their requirements as well as free help in filling out their application. It is vital that you read and re-read all instructions carefully as incomplete applications are one of the most common reasons for small business grants requests being denied. It is also a good idea to keep track of all agencies that you have applied to in the event that they contact you to clarify certain points in application. Having a copy handy will ensure that you will be able to answer any questions they have quickly and professionally.

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