Grants to Start a Business

Small business plays a major role in the American economy both at the state and local levels. The federal government understands this contribution and has put in place a variety of grants and other forms of financial aid to help individuals start new businesses or expand existing ones. It is important to research all types of funds as government grants to start a business is generally just one component of the financing needed for new business start-ups and expansions.

The biggest obstacle individuals’ encounter is in knowing where to look for grants and then finding the ones that relate to their specific type of business. This is largely due to the fact that although these funding opportunities originate at the federal level they are then filtered down to state and local government departments and nonprofit corporations. The posting and administration of grants, low interest loans and other financial aid is the responsibility of each granting organization. Although all grants are open to the general public they are not well advertised and locating them often requires searching through pages and pages of proposals that are simply not relevant for the particular business one has in mind.

In most cases grants are created to fill a need within a community and are designed to provide a measurable benefit to a particular underprivileged group. Nonprofit businesses, research and development projects and certain areas of technological advancements tend to have more grant opportunities available to them. For those that plan to start or expand a for-profit company there are innovative ways in which an owner can attach a nonprofit department to their business resulting in more grant funding possibilities.

The first crucial step that all entrepreneurs must take is to have a completed, professional business plan.  At the outset this may seem like a daunting task and many people are lured into paying hundreds of dollars to have one written for them. There is plenty of free advice including easy-to-use templates allowing anyone to create their own business plan. Remember that no one knows your business as well as you do and with some free guidance you too can accomplish this task quite easily. Having a business plan will give you a better understanding of your business and will show you exactly what you need in the way of financing. Another reason that a business plan is essential is because virtually all grant proposals require it as part of their grant application package. It will also help focus your search for grant funding and can save hours of looking through pages of grants that you do not qualify for.

If you happen to belong to a minority group, there are many government funding opportunities specifically designed to help minority businesses. In some cases it is even possible to apply for grants that allow you to take courses that will give you any skills that you need to help you start your own business.

No matter what type of funding you are looking for, it will require a commitment of you time to research all the possibilities. It is therefore important that you learn to use this time in the most efficient manner possible. Planning ahead and having a completed business plan can open doors to grant opportunities that would otherwise not be possible. It is also important to always be cautious in your search and learn how to avoid the many grant scams that you will inevitably come across. Keep in mind that no legitimate granting agency can guarantee you will be awarded government grants to start a business and there is never a fee associated with filling out a grant application. Also remember that no government or other granting agency will ever contact you personally with offers of free money for your business.

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