There are few business grants for women and minorities for starting a business. But the government offers numerous advisory and consulting services for women and minorities to hone there business and financing plans.
Each business can experience its own hardship, and for those situations, there are grants available for veteran-, minority- and women-owned businesses that might otherwise fail in the start-up or that need help sustaining or expanding the business. The U.S. Small Business Administration also provides tips on starting a business, financing a business and applying for grants. As with any program, grants for minorities and women focus on a niche idea or industry, so find a federal program or local non-profit that shares similar interests with your business.
The federal government isn’t the only institution that gives to small businesses. Local and state non-profits often have funding and resource programs available for start-up companies, as well as discount programs or partnership deals. These partnerships trade resources rather than money since a small business is likely to be more financially insecure. For example, a family-owned electronics business may provide computers for a small community council. The council uses the much-needed technology while promoting the family’s business in its network and giving the family business free services or large discounts. This way, both companies see a benefit in the partnership without spending money needed for other areas of the businesses.
Grants for minorities
Many programs are available to help start or expand minority-owned businesses. A majority of the programs offer consultation, conferences and resources for a small business to become successful. Some programs also offer technology, funding and grants for minorities in specialized areas, such as businesses in underdeveloped communities or minority-owned businesses that support a community.
- The Idea Cafe offers a grant for anyone who has owned a small business for at least six months.
- The SBA promotes economic development through the HUBZone Empowerment Contracting program.
- The SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs is dedicated to finding resources and tools to help minority-owned businesses succeed.
Women-owned business grant opportunities
Opportunities for women-owned businesses include start-up and expansion grants and resources. There are many programs for women who are seeking further educational opportunities, as well as women-owned businesses that give back to the community or focus on the family.
- The Huggies MomInspired Grant Program provides grant funding to women who have innovative start-up ideas or who want to expand on business ideas that will benefit families.
- Women In Defense offers resources and scholarships to working women who are attending school to advance in the defense field.
- The SBA offers loans, educational resources and federal contracting programs to women-owned businesses. It also includes tips for writing proposals and grant applications.
Grants for businesses owned by veterans
Veterans who decide to operate their own business are continuing their service to their country. And to thank these veterans, and encourage them to succeed, local, state and federal programs are available for veteran-owned businesses.
- BusinessUSA offers a listing of state and federal loans, grants and venture capital opportunities.
- The Office of Veterans Business Development is dedicated to finding and applying programs that benefit veteran-owned businesses.
- A variety of loans and assistance programs can be found at SBA.
Many grant programs do not have restrictions prohibiting women-, veteran-, and minority-owned businesses from applying, so research any grant that fits the niche of your business for funding opportunities. It is important to find a variety of funding opportunities because while resources are available, it is not necessary that your company receive specific grants for minorities.
A grant application can be the determining factor in whether you receive a business grant. Sloppy, inaccurate and incomplete applications are likely discarded immediately. Granters receives thousands of applications and they won’t waste their time tracking down submitters who did not follow directions. Think of a grant application as the embodiment of your business on paper. You want it to be as complete, accurate and unique as possible to draw granters to your business proposal.
Each grant has a specific application process that must be followed. Always read the directions provided, and if you need further instruction, contact the granter or representative provided for more information. You don’t want to ask questions just to contact the granter – that would be wasting your time and their time. Instead, formulate your questions ahead of time, look for possible answers, and if you are still unsure, then contact the granter.
Tips for a successful grant application
Successful grant applications include accurate and pertinent information about your business, the proposal, your goals and the funding required to meet those goals. While you want your business to stand out among the others, you should not lie or embellish your company’s achievements or standards. If the grant is for the betterment of your company, be honest and show how important the funding is to improving the local community through your business. You should also know everything about your company. Don’t assign as intern to complete the application process. For a successful grant application, the person applying should know the history of the business and have a clear vision for the future of the company.
You will need additional funding sources for your application and business proposal to be taken seriously. If you cannot find outside support, why would a granter want to risk their money on your business? Turn to community leaders, foundations, businesses with shared interests, universities and state agencies to request funding or form a partnership in interest of the grant.
A successful grant application goes beyond the business’s needs and looks to fulfill a need for the community, state, country or environment. If you have a viable idea, find ways to make it environmentally friendly or show how it can be used to further the evolution of technology. Federal grants are often given to those who can improve or impact commercialization.
You should consider contacting the granter at least once throughout the application process so that you can adjust your business proposal to appeal to the awarding panel. This will also ensure that your goals align with the granter’s interests and it will give you an opportunity to get to know your panel. You may also need to seek advice from outside sources. Talk to a consultant, financial adviser, accountant, industry expert or your business’s attorney as they can be viable resources in preparing your application and proposal.
Increase your chances of getting a grant
You may have found the perfect grant for your business, but don’t stop at applying for just one grant. The competition for each grant is tough and you may be turned down several times before you find a granter willing to invest in your business proposal.
We’ve all seen the commercials that claim there are millions of dollars in free money just waiting to be taken in the form of grants. But that money isn’t just floating in the air waiting for someone to reach up and grab it. You need to know where to look and how to apply for a business grant to see any of this “free money.”
Grants are available from a multitude of sources. The most well-known grants are government grants. Many people mistakenly believe these grants are at anyone’s disposal. This is not true. The majority of government grants are given to programs and institutions who then award the money to businesses and organizations that apply for a business grant. So the money comes from the government, but not straight to your business.
How to find government grants
If you are unsure what kind of government grants would best suit your business, start writing. Create a list of your business’s needs, interests and the goals you want to achieve through your grant. This will help you streamline your ideas to fit a niche. The more concentrated project you can come up with when you apply for a business grant, the more likely you grant application will be accepted.
Once you have a list of your business’s interests, find state and federal agencies that share those interests. A lot of government grants focus on economical, environmental and technological issues. Business proposals that utilize these areas are seen as more viable options because they can benefit more people. Don’t embellish your proposal, however. If you do not intend to “go green” and be environmentally friendly with your project, don’t tout your business as being environmentally conscious. Lies or inaccuracies can void your grant and you can be forced to repay and funds you have received.
The most common form of government grants is a research and development grant. These grants are awarded for projects and ideas that improve or revolutionize commercialization. Research and development grant programs available for small businesses have federal guidelines that must be met during every step of the project. In most cases, these grants are awarded through the Small Business Innovation Research and the Small Business Technology Transfer programs. The SBIR and SBTT programs are comprised of three phases. The first phase awards funding for the exploration of the idea or project. During the second phase, businesses use additional awarded funding to expand results. And phase three implements the idea or project into the marketplace (funding is not provided in phase three).
Research and development grants encourage partnerships between organizations, businesses and institutions. Typically one side of the partnership is responsible for a larger percentage of the work and results achieved during the grant. However, it is not typically specified how much a partner should or can invest. So, while your business may be the primary partner, teaming up with a university or hospital willing to provide funding can be extremely beneficial. When you apply for a business grant, the awarding panel will want to know your business’s plan for funding during and after the the grant’s duration. Expecting a single grant to fully fund your business venture is not a sustainable reality.
So, the commercials are partly true – there is a wealth of funding available in government grants if you know how and where to find it.
Business grants are not a sustainable sourcing of funding or any organization, so you must consider finding additional funding. Grants always include a predetermined time frame in which funds will be released. Once this period has ended, the grant is over. Some grants allow businesses to reapply while others are considered a one-time grant. You can always apply for additional grants, but this can be time consuming. It is better for your business to seek alternate funding before, during and after you apply for a grant.
Finding additional funding for you business can be hard, but if you’re persistent and outgoing, you can ease the process.
Finding additional funding
Before you begin your search to find alternative funds, write your grant proposal summary. You will need a summary to submit with your grant proposal, and having a summary will provide possible investors with a tangible plan. Your summary should include your idea or project, a clear goal, how you will accomplish the goal and the amount of funding required for each step. A business or organization may want to provide funding for a specific part of your project or may even partner with your business to achieve your goal.
Many grants require business to find alternative funding during the grant application process. Outside funding shows that a business is serious about it’s idea or project and has gained support for it. Proposals submitted by businesses that base projects solely on grant funds are not usually successful. Granters want to invest in successful ideas, so the more support you find, the less risky your idea may seem. Granters want to see that a business is willing to gain support from the community, other businesses or educational institutions. So, those are the places you should start when requesting funding.
Research and development grants require two or more businesses, organizations or companies to work together to achieve the project’s goal. This is an excellent way to find alternative funds as the partnering business is likely to provide some funding. Depending on your proposal and your business’s interests, talk to universities, hospitals, corporations and charitable foundations who have similar economic or commercialization interests and needs. They may be willing to provide funding, equipment and researchers for your project.
Find alternative funds with loans and investments
Business loans are available if your project goes above the income of your business. However, it is important to remember that loans must be repaid, so if your venture fails, you could be forced to close the business, sell the business or file for bankruptcy. Also, granters require information on funding that will occur after the grant period has ended, so applying for multiple loans isn’t a sustainable idea. A start-up or expansion loan may be useful, but loans should not be the sole source when you find alternative funds.
Venture capitalists may be a viable resource in finding additional funding while seeing your company grow. Venture capitalists typically invest in a business that shows potential for substantial growth, that way they can see a profit when they decide to exit the business. A venture capitalist firm or individual might be more willing to invest a large amount of money if your business has a well-organized grant proposal.
Money is available for businesses who are willing to work to find it. Use your professional contacts, community leaders and top organizations and corporations to help you find alternative funding.