Small business grants can help you get started or stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. Some grants are specific to the pandemic, such as the federal PPP loans, which are forgivable if your business meets the guidelines. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has other lesser-known COVID-19 relief options, including the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, Shuttered Venues Grant, SBA Debt Relief, COVID-19 EIDL, and Cross-Program Eligibility. The fact is there are many options for grants, whether they are from a federal, state, city, or municipal government or a corporate, non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO), private individual, or foundation entity. Small business grants can be tailored to meet the needs of minority owners, women, veterans, immigrants, felons, startups, and more.
Successfully obtaining a small business grant, which in essence is free money, turns out to be incredibly competitive and requires research and an appropriate grant proposal request. A large percentage (as high as 80 percent) of grant applications are turned away early in the process because a business owner did not follow the directions provided or take the time to craft their request to match the entity’s parameters. Make sure your small business meets the list of eligibility requirements before spending the time it takes to create a successful application.
Most small business grants want to see your business plan, so be certain yours is updated.
Many businesses haven’t updated their business plan since their launch. Take the time to ensure you have a current, well-thought-out strategy and accurate financial data in your business plan. Reviewing your plan and adapting your goals to meet the moment allows detailing how your business meets the requirements of a particular grant.
Timing is everything.
Grant applications are usually accepted once a year. Before applying, read through grant deadlines ahead of time for submission to the appropriate channel by the stated deadline. Not meeting a grant deadline will take your business out of the running, and it is easy to avoid submission timing mistakes with the proper research. After you submit your application, follow-up to ensure it was received and advise the reviewers you can provide further information if needed. When following up on your request, inquire about their timeline for selecting the winning grant.
Be prepared that your grant application may not result in funding for your business.
There are thousands of small business grants available, yet not every grant you request will come your way. Because applying for small business grants can be time-consuming, it is best to create a strategy before becoming involved. Some business owners prefer to outsource their grant application process to a professional to increase their chances of success and better manage their time. Yet, a professional writer is no guarantee of success and impacts your business’s bottom line. Every small business grant has specific requirements, and you should ensure your business can meet those requirements before investing time and money in creating a grant proposal or application.
Many small businesses are struggling during the pandemic, and a small business grant can provide much-needed financial support that can help keep your business thriving. To begin your process, contact the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which bridges the gap between corporations with capital and government agencies. This organization facilitates numerous grants and other local funding opportunities. The Barstool Fund is another fund that provides relief grant money in response to the pandemic. This ongoing crowdsource fund campaign has great appeal as its process is fully online. While there is no fixed grant amount, small business owners receive money in the thousands of dollars. Other small business crowdfunding sources include GoFundMe, where, as long as you can verify your business is negatively impacted by the coronavirus, you can be eligible for funds to cover business expenses or employee care.
Whether the grant you seek is a long-standing small business grant or in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it is imperative to follow the directions carefully and provide thoughtful responses that complement the focus of that particular grant. You can access most federal grants here at grants.gov, where you will also find grant writing tips and a learning center, while private sector grants are easily accessible through LISC.