Deciding to start a business can be overwhelming. Funding is the number one reason why most people deter away from starting their own business, even if they have a unique product or service. While its may seem like there are so many option, such as crowdfunding, venture capital, family loans and many others, it is important to know that you may be able finance your start-up with grant opportunities. However, in order to apply for grants, you must get your ducks in a row.
Right Grant for You: Before you go through all the steps to applying for a grant, make sure the grant you are applying for is right for your business and your specific situation. It can be a time- consuming process to apply for all available grants, although that may be your first instinct. Try to learn about other businesses that may have applied for this grant or contact people in your line of business and see what grants may have worked for them in the past. Most importantly, stay away from grant-scam advertisements. Do your research!
Know Your Objective: Before you submit an application for a grant, you have to be able to highlight your goals and objectives you’re looking to fulfill with the grant money. For example, you may need the grant money to expand your business and create new employment opportunities. Or, you may want to use the grant money for further R&D (research and development). Regardless, you must be specific in concise in getting these goals and objectives across to the evaluation committee that will be looking at your application. Be away that too little or too many objectives may also impact your chances of approval.
Business Plan: Once you have stated your goal and objective, the approval committee will likely review your business plan, to get a better understanding of your business-model. The business plan you present must include:
- Executive Summary – This is should be a quick overview of your business including your company vision along with concise near-term goals.
- Company Description – What is your product/service, your target audience and the expertise you/your company bring to the table.
- Service of Product Line – Go a little deeper into the product or service you are looking to provide to your customer base and what makes it unique.
- Marketing, Sales and Financial Projections – This section is essential, to show that you understand there is promise in the product/service you are looking to take to market. Any soft sale numbers you may be able to provide, projections and specific steps you will be taking to hit your projected numbers will be key points to include.
Documentation: Most grant review boards require you to submit specific supporting documentation. For example, if you require a license (state/government etc.), you must make sure to produce that, along with any tax and bank documents that the grant application may require. This will vary depending on the grant itself.
Deadlines: When you’re in the zone and trying to get all the documentation ready for several different grant applications, it’s important to stay on top of deadlines. Keep a calendar on your phone and on your office computer for reminders. Set milestone reminders so you stay on track to completing all stages of the application.
Applying for grants with the pressure of a business looming over you can seem like a lot in the beginning. However, if you go into prepared and have a clear plan of action, it will make the gran application process a lot smoother and may result in a quick turn around on your application status.