No matter what business it is, it’s impossible to stand the test of time without capital. You can always go for business financing but for most small businesses, a loan is difficult to acquire. Even if you do manage to acquire one, high interest rates are involved. An alternative is to look for an investor to raise funds in exchange for some equity.
Want an even better option? In my opinion, the best way to raise funds is to apply for grants. It’s a perfect solution for removing the risk associated with a higher interest rate. You don’t even have to lose any equity. When I left my job at a firm that specialized in vCISO services to peruse my dream of starting a business, I needed funds too. Grants came to my rescue.
To save your time, here, I have listed a few grants that are a great fit for small businesses. Read on to check them out!
What are Grants?
A grant is a determined sum of money from the government or a private entity for small businesses. You may call it free money provided that you must explain how you would be spending this money. While it’s free money but it’s not easy to acquire. A lot of work goes into creating a proposal for applying to a grant and meeting the requirements to win that grant too.
7 Best Grants for Small Business
Now let’s have a look at the options available for small businesses when it comes to grants:
1: SBIR Program
This is a government grant which is awarded to businesses who want to make strides in tech innovation. These funds are basically offered so that you may carry out R&D with additional support for the commercialization of the new service/tech.
SBIR started in 1982and so far, it has provided funds to healthcare, defense, and environment industries. A small business that is awarded this grant has to complete 3 phases for receiving full funds. Here they are:
- In the first phase, the federal research and development team sits and tests the viability of the project. The funds allocated for this phase do not exceed $150,000.
- The second phase is dispersed over 2 years and the funding is limited to $1000k.
- This phase is non-funded. Here, the final product has to be commercialized.
State Trade Expansion Program is again a government-related grant. It’s meant to offer support and assistance to small businesses with an export nature. Small businesses can apply to programs offered by the state entities for benefiting from export development opportunities.
3: FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
FedEx keeps on hosting small business grant contests for providing fundings to ambitious entrepreneurs. This is an annual thing. This year, the company awarded $50,000 to small businesses. The best thing about this grant is that it covers most small business models. The only condition is your business strategy needs to be a story worth telling. You can expect to win $15,000 to $50,000.
4: Amber Grant Foundation
It’s one of the grants for women, founded in 1998, by WomensNet. The mission of this organization is to help women fulfill their dreams. They give $10,000 to women who want to peruse their entrepreneurial passion the first week of each month. Huge, right! That’s not it, by the end of each year, one special lady receives $25,000! If you are passionate women who always wanted to become an entrepreneur, you might want to check out Amber Grant Foundation.
5: StreetShares Foundation
This is a grant launched for Veterans, with the mission to support those who served the military. Apart from providing funds, StreetShares Foundation also offers coaching, mentoring, and shares educational content.
They host networking events frequently. Ever since their inception (which was in 2016), they have helped more than five thousand entrepreneurs in building their businesses. The award amount ranges from $4,000 to $15,000.
6: Sephora Accelerate
Yes, you have guessed it right. Sephora the makeup giant has a grant program too. Every fall, via the Sephora Accelerate Program, the company helps fund entrepreneurs in the beauty industry (of course).
This grant is a great opportunity for those whose business is focused on hair products, makeup, or skincare. They offer a 6-month boot camp and you will get exclusive access to launch your products at Sephora, which is great for getting your first sale!
7: The State Business Incentives Database
This is a great grant for bagging funds on a variety of businesses. Currently, they have more than 2,000 financial programs out of 537 are grants. To take advantage of this grant, you must be a member of the C2ER team. So yeah, only the privileged can get access to these programs.
The grant amount varies. If you know someone who is on the team, then this is a great opportunity to gather funds for your business.
If you do some research yourself, you will successfully create a huge list of grants. But each grant has its own requirements and there is no guarantee that you will qualify. However, you can follow a few steps to boost your chances of acquiring one.
For starters, focus on local grants. Look for small grants within your town or city. They are much easier to qualify for the state level or nationwide grants. Plus, you will be competing against a smaller pool. Spend some time researching the previous winners so that you may follow in their footsteps. Once you manage to qualify, it’s time to fulfill your dreams.