Grant money is a great source of funding for small business ventures when it's available because it doesn't have to be paid back. Furthermore, the process of applying for grants can help small business owners to firm up their objectives and develop their business plans.
There are two major types of small business grants: public grants offered by the government and private grants offered by companies or individuals wishing to contribute to a business venture that they view as important or valuable.
The government offers some small business grants for companies that it feels have the potential to benefit the economy or to provide some other benefit to the country like technological developments.
Government grants are offered on the federal, state, and local level. Grants.gov and SBIR.gov are two of the best sources of information out there on government grants. Small business owners can also consult the U.S. Small Business Administration and Federalgrants.com for information on small business funding offered by the government.
Private organizations like non-profits can be just as significant a source of grant funds as the government is. Industry-specific organizations like unions also sometimes offer grants to individuals involved in a small business venture. Small business owners should especially be looking out for private grants that they can take advantage of due to a special status like being a minority.
Women or individuals who are part of a particular religious minority can take advantage of certain grants offered by organizations that cater to business owners from a particular demographic. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a good source of information on private grants.
Though a government agency, the SBA recognizes that most small businesses won't qualify for a government grant. The grant finding tool it offers on its website therefore connects small businesses with private grant opportunities as well as information on government grants.
Grant application tips
Every program that provides grant funds for small businesses will have some sort of objective that small business owners need to be aware of when applying or writing a grant proposal.
In grant applications, small business owners need to address this objective with specific facts and figures that demonstrate that their business shows the most potential for achieving that objective with the grant funds. When it comes to applying for a grant, business owners need to put their own objectives aside and focus in on whatever the grant program is aimed at achieving, whether it's economic growth, technological advancement, or the creation of professional opportunities for a particular minority or community.