5 Grants to help your small business

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While some of the elements of operating a small business are relatively easy, others like funding can completely cripple you. The good news is that there are plenty of small business grants, and you just need to know where to look.

January 10, 20237 mins
Lessons from CIO

Running a small business is highly challenging. There are so many things to set up and achieve that without the right kind of support, you can end up feeling overwhelmed. While some of the elements of operating a small business are relatively easy, others like funding can completely cripple you.

Think about it; entrepreneurship is money-intensive, and everything requires capital. Want to market your products? You'll need a budget! Looking for employees? You have to make payroll! Don't even get us started on the operational expenses and the cash flow challenges that you're likely to encounter. It's no wonder 20% of small businesses don't make it past 1 year.

The good news is that there are plenty of small business grants, and you just need to know where to look.

1. Specialty Grants for Small Businesses

Some organizations channel their funding efforts towards specific communities so as to create equal opportunities for success and encourage entrepreneurship across various demographics.

The main categories of specialty small business grants include;

Ⅰ. Grants for women-owned businesses:

The funding options are meant to encourage women to venture into entrepreneurship so that they are well represented in the list of the top American business owners. They include;

ⅠⅠ. Grants for minorities:

These funding options are awarded to minority-owned small businesses and are mainly aimed at helping them flourish. They include;

ⅠⅠⅠ. Grants for veterans:

There are 5,5 million businesses, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, veterans own 7.2% of them. If you’re a veteran looking for small business help, here are great places to start;

2. Grants From Large Corporations

As part of their corporate social responsibility and philanthropic components, large corporations often award grants to small businesses. The 2 main corporate small business grants are;

Ⅰ. National Association for the Self-Employed:

NASE awards small business grants all year round and reviews applications quarterly in January, April, July, and October. If you're a member, you can apply for an annual college scholarship for your dependents of up to $3,000 and a $4,000 grant for your business.

ⅠⅠ. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest:

FedEx runs an annual competition that awards 12 small businesses a grant of $250,000, including $7,500 and $50,000 in their business services, and prints to the grant winner. To be eligible for this contest, your small business must have less than 99 employees and be in operation for at least 6 months.

3. State and Regional Grants for Small Businesses

Some small business grants are awarded on a state, and regional level, and the 2 most popular ones are;

Ⅰ. Small Business Development Centers:

Local small business development centers are meant to help entrepreneurs. They’re often linked to an economic development agency in the state or a local university and can connect you with financing opportunities, technical assistance, training, and counseling.

ⅠⅠ. Economic Development Administration:

This is an initiative by the U.S. Department of Commerce Agency that not only provides small business grants but also technical assistance and entrepreneurial support to local communities. The EDA grant is meant to encourage innovation & entrepreneurship as well as economic growth. Every state has an EDA agency, and you can easily find your regional offices from their directory or local resources.

4. Federal Grants for Small Businesses

Federal agencies are a major supporter of small businesses, and they award various grants, including some to businesses in child care and environmental conservation. They include;

Ⅰ. Small Business Innovation Research Program:

SBIR is a highly competitive small business grant aimed at encouraging you to participate in federal research and development projects that can be commercialized. Your small business must be a for-profit company and have less than 500 employees to qualify.

ⅠⅠ. Small Business Technology Transfer Program:

STTR is almost similar to SBIR, but this program requires you to formally collaborate with a research institution.

ⅠⅠⅠ. Grants.gov:

This is a gold mine for small business grants. It contains a comprehensive database of various government agencies that award grants, including the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Education.

ⅠV. USA.gov:

While this site doesn’t directly offer small business grants, it does have multiple resources that contain information on federal small business loans.

These grants are a great opportunity to fast-track the growth of your small business, and while the application process may seem intimidating, we recommend that you try out your luck.

5. COVID-19 Grants for Small Businesses

When the coronavirus pandemic struck, small businesses were the most affected. If you're still trying to find your footing, there are 3 main grants that can help you out;

Ⅰ. Restaurant Revitalization Fund:

This grant was aimed towards small businesses in the hotel industry that lost funds due to the pandemic and gave up to $10 million in funding.

ⅠⅠ. Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance:

This is a program by the SBA that gives grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses owned by low-income communities.

ⅠⅠⅠ. Shuttered Venue Operators Grant:

This program is aimed at eligible shuttered venues such as movie theater operators and live performing arts institutions.

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant:

Small business grants go a long way in securing the future of your enterprise. The beauty of grants is that they don't need to be repaid and are essentially free money. Most small businesses, however, shy away from applying under the misguided notion that they are difficult to get. You have nothing to lose by trying out your luck!

If you're looking for an affordable and efficient document management solution for your grant applications, we’re here to help! Check out how we can help your small business.

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