What is a small business grant? Essentially, a business grant is a sum of money given to a business by a federal, state, or private entity. Versus a loan, grants do not have to be paid back, making them highly attractive to many entrepreneurs. While business loans are the more popular funding solution for many small businesses across the US, small business grants are also an option that many companies don’t explore.
Often, a small business grant is developed to target a specific type of business; for example, there are grants for minority-owned businesses, small businesses in rural areas, and grants for nonprofit companies, among other grant types. Grants can be reasonably competitive, and the process may take quite a bit longer than applying for a business loan. But again, the benefit here is that you do not have to pay the money back.
Given our current climate and the issues numerous small businesses face as a result of the pandemic, grants can be invaluable. Grant applications are at record highs in some regions of the country. So if your business can find an applicable grant, it makes sense to submit an application and thus try and procure some “free money” for your organization.
Types of Small Business Grants
As mentioned, there are several grants available for business owners. Generally, grants are directed at a specific company or a particular owner. For example, grants for women business owners are out there, or grants for veteran-owned businesses.
Grants are also differentiated in terms of who is offering them. There are various state and federal grants, such as Department of Defense-sponsored grants and National Institute of Health grants. New York State has a COVID relief grant they offer to smaller companies.
And then there are also those grants given out by private organizations; among some of these are the FedEx Small Business grant and Halstead Jewelry Grant for jewelry startups. The key is to do your research. Starting with an online search for small business grants relevant to your niche is an excellent first step. You could also consult with the SBA in your region to see what they know about existing grants available. Another good resource is your local chamber of commerce; often, they will know of grant opportunities locally.
Applying for Small Business Grants
Once you’ve identified grants for your company’s application, it is time to put together a solid application packet. What does a grant application packet consist of? Each grant application is going to depend on the parameters established by the organization or entity giving out the small business grant.
If you are unsure how to prepare a grant application, you might want to hire a professional grant writer. They are well versed in the various grant components and understand how to put together a compelling packet and thus improve your odds of winning that grant.
If you are preparing your application on your own, a couple of things to keep in mind: you must fill out the application to the letter. In other words, go by everything stated and asked for on the application form. Following directions is hugely important here. You will likely be asked to provide information regarding the following:
• General business info
• Time in business
• Annual revenue
• Planned use for funds received
• A general elevator pitch for your company
• Any relevant social media accounts
• A business plan
There might also be sections of the small business grant application where you are asked to provide a narrative. For example, you might be asked to discuss a recent project reflective of what you as a company do and how you consequently give back to your community in some way. Every grant form is different. And so, you will have to be prepared to address in detail the questions asked. The more comprehensive your “story,” the more robust your application will be.
Grant writing can be an art form in some ways. As noted, grants for small businesses are pretty competitive. You, therefore, have to stand out. The people judging the grant applications want to know who you are, what value you bring, and what you do with the money. Telling a compelling story to this end really will help your cause.
First Union Lending is Here for You!
We work with small business owners across the US, getting them the funding they need when they need it—not weeks or months from now. We offer a wide range of loan products to suit just about every business type. If you require additional working capital, we can help. Call today and let’s get started together!