Starting your new business takes hard work and lots of money. Loans accrue interest, take time to payback and put negative pressure on your cash flow. A great alternative to a business loan is to obtain a grant. Who doesn’t like free money? Well, it’s not totally free. You will have to spend some time getting everything in order and you must use the funds according to the guidelines of the grantor. But once you’ve done that, you never have to worry about paying the money back.
Generate an idea for a product or service. The best part of starting your own business is being able to do what you love. When you’re passionate about your work, your entire life becomes richer.
Build a solid business plan. Create a traditional, comprehensive business plan that encompasses all aspects of creating, marketing and selling your product or service in a financially sustainable method.
Polish your resume and personal financial statement. Make sure they’re up to date and be prepared to submit them with your business plan and proposal. If you have partners, they will need to do the same.
Research grant opportunities. See below for places to start. Read the eligibility requirements carefully. You don’t want to spend time seeking a grant if you don’t meet the requirements.
Create your proposal. Your grant proposal should complement your business plan and address your financial requirements. Provide as much detail as possible.
Apply for the grant. Most grants have very detailed application instructions. Many even supply their own forms for you to fill out. Follow all instructions for completing and delivering your proposal and application.
Don’t get discouraged. If you get denied, learn from your experience and try again.
Timing is crucial. Grants are awarded on a first-come first-serve basis. Search often as new grant opportunities can appear daily. If you get denied, ask for feedback.
Incomplete grant applications will be denied. Make sure you follow all instructions to the letter. If you do not use the funds according to the grantor’s guidelines, you may be personally liable to repay all monies granted plus interest.