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How to find grant money for a small business

Here are some tips when looking and applying for grant funds for small businesses.

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Many businesses are unaware that that grant money is not just for non-profits. Some grants are designed specifically for businesses that are for-profit. This post will review what to expect with grant funding, as well as where these grants can be found for any business.

What to expect with grant funds

Grants are thought of as “free money”. The reality is that grant recipients will pay with their time in managing the grant after it is awarded. Grants come with requirements and stipulations that businesses have to follow in order to comply with grant parameters.

The process typically works as follows:

  1. A business applies for a grant
  2. The grant-maker reviews applicants and chooses one that aligns with the grant purpose
  3. The grant funds are awarded, sometimes in a lump sum or on a distribution schedule
  4. The business records every detail of where the grant money is spent
  5. Annually or semi-annually, the business submits reports on spending under audit-like structure to prove it has followed the grant-makers’ terms

Any mismanagement in the way that grant funds are spent can result in a retraction of the grant.

This means that the tedious work that goes into managing the grant is very important, and companies often opt to hire professionals to manage the grant fund reporting to make sure it is done correctly.

Depending on the size of the grant, some businesses spend as much on managing the grant as they are awarded in grant funds.

Managing grant money is important once you’re awarded it. (Source)

Finding a grant can take hours of research. This is because grants are created for highly specific purposes and come with detailed stipulations on who is eligible to apply. One site that centralizes grants from corporations, individual grantmakers, and organizations of all types is the Foundation Directory Online (FDO). This can make searching through grants less tedious with highly organized filtering options so you can narrow down to grants that apply to your business.

Other options to consider include:

  • Searching through the www.grants.gov website
  • Searching corporations like Coca-Cola, General Electric, and General Mills for their grant-giving programs
  • Contacting your local Chamber of Commerce to understand open grants and upcoming grants available to local businesses

As a final word of advice, be sure to prepare for what a grant application requires. Many grant applications require submission of a business plan for fund spending, a written proposal for why the applicant deserves the grant and financial statements for the last year of operation. Careful preparation of these items can make the difference between grant award and rejection.

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

As a Business Plan Consultant, Ashley helps entrepreneurs "wow" investors with a great business plan so they can get funded. After a progressive career as a proposals professional for various companies including General Electric, Ashley succumbed to the bug of entrepreneurship and launched Written Success. She is also the resident Pitch Consultant for multiple investment networks. She lives with her husband and children in Houston, Texas and supports business plan development for entrepreneurs in the US and internationally.

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