Free money to start a small business — isn’t that every entrepreneur’s wildest dream? It’s too bad that startup grants are so hard to come by. Or are they?
In this article, I’m going to cover the types of businesses that qualify for a startup grant and give a few examples of where to find these grants. Then, I’ll share some tips to help answer the question: “How do I get free money to start a business?” Let’s start by looking at the common categories that startup grants fall into. First, there are innovation grants. These are geared toward a business that creates novel, potentially disruptive products. So these will generally be entrepreneurs in technology, medicine, science, agriculture, education, and research and development.
Small Business Innovation Research program
An example grant is the Small Business Innovation Research program, which awards grants of up to $150K in the first phase of funding. Depending on the results achieved, more grant money, up to $1 million, could be awarded. Next, there are “green” grants, which generally cover the cost of installing sustainable infrastructure and/or energy systems.
The Rural Energy For America Program is part of the USDA and awards renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvement grants to agricultural producers and rural small businesses. Speaking of rural businesses, there are various grants that aim to stimulate the economy in rural and economically distressed areas.
Depending on where you are opening your business or nonprofit and the specifics of your organization’s goals. You might be eligible for some of this grant money. An example grant is the Rural Business Development program, which is specifically for nonprofit and public entities. From the same agency, rural farmers might be eligible for the Value-Added Producer grant. And for-profit businesses that provide education or health care to rural communities can check out the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant.
Grants for Female Entrepreneurs
Female entrepreneurs, there is a whole sector of grants dedicated to getting your startup off the ground. You can start your search with programs such as Cartier Women’s Initiative, Amber Grants, and Girlboss Foundation. With this designation, you’re eligible for some government and private grant money. You’ll be able to find grants from places like grants.gov, Grant Gopher, and GrantWatch, just to name a few.
Grants for Self-Employed Growth.
There is grant money available for nonprofits providing services to veterans, as well as retraining grants for veterans returning to civilian life. You can check out VetFran and the National Association.
For The Self-Employed Growth Grants for more information. One of the more active categories of grants is those aimed at minority-owned businesses.
Some potential resources for these grants include:
Grants.gov Dare To Dream Grant Program Native American Business Development Institute Office Of Minority Health Grant Programs State government grants Then there are general grants that are available to any kind of business, but they are VERY competitive, so you’re going to need a SUPER impressive story or track record to really impress the judges. Two examples of grant programs in this category are the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest and Visa’s Everywhere Initiative. So that’s the type of grants available to startups. Now how to actually win one of those grants? How do you make your startup stand out from the rest?
Here are six tips to keep in mind when applying for a Startup grants:
1: Make Sure You’re Eligible -Sounds Obvious But Triple-Check
2: Tailor Your Pitch To Your Audience -Who’s Offering The Grant? Are They A Formal Organization Or More Laid-Back?
3: Don’t Skip Any Part Of The Application Even If It Seems Redundant, Doesn’t Skip It
4: Create A Compelling Narrative -Don’t Put The Judges To Sleep. Be Interesting
5: Be Realistic -Not Just For Humility. Show Your Business Sense
6: Talk About How Your Business Will Affect Your Community -Community Advocacy Is A Thing- Let’s be real.
Finding grants that are for new businesses is tough. And there are government grant scams that you have to watch out for! Trust us, there AREN’T huge piles of free grant money ripe for the taking. It’s a highly competitive and selective arena. Want to do more research on available grant programs? Take a quick tour of the lists we’ve pulled together on our website at merchantmaverick.com.