A small business grant is free money that you don't have to repay, and it can be used to help your small business succeed. While there are various different types of small business grant funds out there, they all come from government or non-profit organizations. In some cases, you can obtain grant funding from the SBA (Small Business Administration), but in most instances, you will need to apply for it through the federal government. The process of applying can take a while, so you'll want to make sure that you are extremely careful about what you submit along with your application!
First of all, before you even begin to apply for a small business grant, you'll need to determine exactly how much money you are going to need. You can do this by working out a budget. If you have a limited amount of money to spend on grants, you may want to start out with just applying for grants that cover only a few specific things, such as marketing materials or software, and then graduate to applying for larger grants if you have more to spend on. But even if you don't have a lot of money to spend, you can still qualify for small business grant funds – you just have to make sure that you apply for the ones that the government is currently providing.
After you've determined how much you need to apply for in grants, you'll also need to identify the types of small business grant programs that you are eligible for. Most of these grants target small businesses in areas such as growing the local economy, improving the quality of local infrastructure, or providing assistance for small businesses during times of economic hardship. While there are grants available to help women's businesses, there are very few available for men's or even privately owned businesses. You'll probably have to go to your city government to inquire about different types of grants for your particular situation, and then you'll have to apply for every government program that matches your criteria. When you do find a grant that you qualify for, it will most likely be accompanied by a lot of paperwork and documentation – so it's not something you can easily do yourself in a few hours.
If you are unable to locate any small business grant programs that you qualify for, don't give up hope yet. There are still options out there. There are large corporations willing to award generous grants to small businesses – these corporations have either set up separate grant funds or have a special division dedicated to providing grants to small businesses. If you find such a corporate philanthropic activity, you may be able to negotiate a grant for your business from them.
For example, Wal-Mart has established a department devoted to helping small businesses find grant funding. In addition to the government grants offered by the government and various private foundations, Wal-Mart has their own corporate grant fund. They not only help select the grant applicants that they feel are likely to be a success, but also assist in managing the competition. They have recently received funding from the state of Arkansas to help develop small business incubators. The ultimate goal is to create twenty start-up incubators within the next five years. This is part of Wal-Mart's strategy to diversify into other technology areas.
The government has a small business grant program that can provide some assistance when you're just starting your business. But, as you grow your business and hire employees, you may need to obtain additional funding from either the government or a private foundation. In some cases, your business will require a grant in order to finance its growth – especially if you anticipate hiring a significant number of employees. If you know the requirements and you're not sure whether you'll qualify for one, get started applying today.
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