Small Business Grants 101: Who Qualifies and How to Apply

If you are a small business owner, you might be considering expanding your business. But how so? Is there a magical recipe that you can use to effectively make your business grow and eradicate your dwindling customer base? Unfortunately, money does not fall from the sky, but there is a way that works just as much. Small business grants can come in handy, if you want to expand your business. First, you must understand the necessary requirements to get a small business grant.
What Is a Small Business Grant?

By definition, small business grants are ways the government…

…funds your ideas and projects to provide public services and stimulate the economy

Funding can be done in the form of money or property instead of actual cash to an eligible recipient. Grants do not require repayment, so it is a nice financial option for entrepreneurs, and does not add to the business’ total debt. However, small business grants may require rigorous compliance and reporting measures since the government will want to make sure you are spending the money in the right places. These types of grants are hard to find and often targeted to a specific industry, which means you must spend time doing some research before you find the one that fits your organization’s needs. Despite what publications or books may say, small business grants generally do not provide money to start a new business. You should take that into account.

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Who Qualifies for Small Business Grants

Checking your eligibility is the first step to getting a small business grant. You should know what specific industry or sector in which your business is included. Small business grants are typically offered by state governments, county governments, township governments, special district governments, independent school districts, public and higher state controlled institutions for higher education, private institutions of higher education, public housing authorities.

Companies and small businesses meeting the size standards established by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Individuals and foreign applicants are also eligible if they meet the requirements established by the grantor. As stated previously, small business grants will most likely not help you start your business, but they can be very useful if you play your cards right. The primary advantage of applying and getting a grant is that the money will not be repaid as long as you follow the steps carefully.

How to Apply for Small Business Grants

After checking your eligibility, you are now ready to apply. Most small business grants follow a linear lifecycle divided into three phases: pre-award phase, award phase, and post-award phase.

1. Pre-award Phase

Grant making agencies start announcing their funding opportunities. Continually looking for the right grant opportunity is pivotal. Once you find a small business grant for which your company might be eligible, you will then need to submit your application and wait for it to be reviewed by the agency or organization offering the small business grant. The grantors prepare and announce their Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) which include all pertinent information and requirements –BusinessUSA, Grants.gov, and SBA.gov- are places to start. Make sure you check the information carefully so that you have better chances to get small business grants.

This process can be lengthy, but it is rather important when considering your chances and the possible competition you may encounter. The application process includes doing research, writing your grant proposal, and submitting it to the agency. Before submitting your proposal, make sure you have third-party feedback; it will definitely make your proposal better.

2. Award Phase

After completing the application, the organization or agency will review your documents. After this review, the organization or agency makes its final decision. Meeting the specific requirements established in the initial small business grant announcement ensures that your company has a higher chance of being awarded the small business grant. After the decision is made, the organization will advise you of its decision. If your company is awarded a small business grant, you and your company may be subject to statutory and regulatory requirements to make sure the money is well spent.

3. Post-award Phase

Grant making agencies will monitor your progress and expenditures through reporting procedures. The idea is to ensure transparency and avoid fraud. The specific reporting procedures vary from company to company, which is why effective communication must be maintained between your company and the awarding organization to prevent issues or misunderstandings from arising. Audits are the most common form of regulatory requirements after receiving small business grants. Both grant making agencies and grant recipients are audited in terms of policies, expenditures, and performance.

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What Small Business Grants Don’t Offer

In addition to not offering money to start up new businesses, small business grants do not offer money to cover operational expenses or paying off debt. Also, promptness is not one of the main characteristics of these types of grants. You may possibly have to wait for a couple of months before you attain your grant. In addition, many small business grants lack simplicity. In many cases, you must provide ‘excessive documentation before a grant may be awarded.

However lengthy, applying for small business grants is a very attractive and nice financial consideration if you want to expand your business. Free cash that can help you improve what you already have. Before applying, check your business’ eligibility. After that, do research, research, and more research until you find the perfect grant for you. Make sure you meet all the requirements and start writing your proposal. Double check it and submit it. Wait for a response. It doesn’t sound that hard after all, does it?

What are you waiting for? If you want to up your game; this is the right opportunity for you. Go get your grant! Let me know what you think.

Images from depositphotos.com.

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