In today’s world much like the housing market, it has been increasingly cost prohibitive to start up your own local business. Sometimes it is not enough to have a great idea, there are many costs involved including business registration, equipment purchase and leasing a premises. Typically the common way around this has been to seek out investors or backers to help finance the commencement of a new business for a share in its profit. However the magic ingredient missing in this equation is help beyond just the money and this is where grants can come in and help.
What are they?
Business grants are usually given by government organizations and from the not for profit sector. These organizations generally have a vested interest in improving their area of responsibility and utilize grants to help start up new businesses that are aligned with their interests. An example of this would be local council providing a grant to a new business that provided after school care for children from local schools. The benefit to the council being they are providing a service to the local community without dedicate the resources to run, maintain and promote the business.
What are the benefits to me?
Besides the obvious benefit of getting a cash induction to help you kick start your business, there are also some not so obvious ones that come along for the ride. The one that springs to mind is the mentoring aspect. When a grant is given there are usually some strings attached, one of the most beneficial to new small business owner is the mentoring aspect. Generally the government body or Not for Profit Organization will assign someone to you to help guide you through the process of starting up your business. This can be invaluable as someone to bounce things off, especially the sorts of things which are not the most apparent to new business owners such as preparing financial statements.
How can I get them?
Generally the allocation of new business grants is done at a local level rather than a state or federal level. Since there are a lot of organizations with varying agendas offering their own versions of grants to provide a comprehensive list available grants would be impossible. But to help get you started, here are the two most common places for you to get started a few places that you can begin your search:
1) Universities and other tertiary education facilities
2) Local Chamber of Commerce
What is required?
The most important thing for you to do when applying for a small business grant is to prepare, at least in brief, a business plan. For those of you that have never prepared a business plan before, there are a lot of free resources available to you through a simple Google search. The key is to be as comprehensive as possible without being overbearing. Put yourself in the position of the person responsible for reading all the business plans and awarding the grant. You want to clearly communicate the what your business does and demonstrate that you have the basis of a plan to achieve this and that it is indeed viable – not a pie in the sky idea.
How can I increase my chance of getting one?
The secret to getting a new business grant is that of empathy – the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. When drafting your business plan for submission, consider the goals and objectives of the organization giving the grant. Make sure to communicate how the creation of your business will help them to serve these goals and objectives. Keep in mind that these goals and objectives are generally based on your local area so don’t be too broad with the message you are trying to communicate.
Got anything to add? Please comment below on your experiences.