Small business grants are often a hot topic among entrepreneurs with limited funds and access to capital. We have all seen the headlines: "Free Government Grant for Small Business." It seems all too easy. Locate a government small business grant, apply and before you know it you have the money to grow your cash-strapped business.
Most U.S. government departments, such as the Department of Commerce, do not provide any grants for starting a small business. Grant programs are available through state programs and other groups. The grant programs are often awarded to fields such as medicine or education, with very specific eligibility criteria.
Process for Finding Small Business Grants
The process of finding a small business grant program and reviewing the requirements is time consuming. After conducting a two-week search for a medical publisher, I found the requirements to be very specific and difficult to meet. Eligibility can be based on location, sales revenue to date, years in business, sex, race, and purpose of funding. Should your business embark on a small business grant seeking mission? Answer the following questions:
1. Do you have the time and resources to search for a small business grant program and apply?
2. Can you hire a consultant or learn the grant application process by yourself?
3. Does your business need the money now for expansion or can you wait up to a year?
4. If you do undertake the grant process, will it hurt your business taking away time from selling and marketing?
If you want to take a look at the small business grants available, the best place to start is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA). The CFDA lists thousands of grants from all government agencies for free. Many business grants will be geared towards minority business development or rural business opportunity grants. Do not overlook the other assistance programs available such as surplus equipment and training.
If you do find a small business grant program available for your business, be ready to go through a lengthy, approval process. With funding cutbacks and high competition be prepared with the following grant tips:
Small Business Grant Tips
The task of locating and applying for a small business grant is not for the faint at heart. Take an honest look at alternative sources first, such as loans, personal credit lines, friends and family. Many successful companies today were grown the old fashioned way...bootstrapping.