How To Earn A Business Grant: Valuable Tips For Women Entrepreneurs
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The number of women business owners in the US has increased tremendously in the past decade. According to a 2017 study by the American Express, close to 40% of private companies are owned by women. However, how many of these women have received a business grant? What do you need to do to earn a business grant?
Although the growth of numbers is encouraging, experts warn that we're not out of the woods yet. Women entrepreneurs face numerous challenges. And one of the most pressing concerns right now is funding.
Starting and running a business can be a costly undertaking. With many women struggling with less-than-perfect credit and cash flow issues, the majority of them are hesitant to take on business loans. This leaves one option worth exploring -- business grants.
What Is A Business Grant?
Business grants are funds or products given to businesses by governments, foundations, trusts, or corporations to help them further their operations. Unlike other funding, business owners don't have to repay or give up equity in exchange for grants.
For these reasons, the competition for business grants is cutthroat. It takes a significant amount of time and effort to earn them. But if you're determined and up for the challenge, it's worth it.
Where To Find Small Business Grants For Women
The Girlboss Foundation
Entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso launched the Girlboss Foundation in 2014. The foundation awards grant to female entrepreneurs twice a year.
Each beneficiary receives funding of $15,000. The grants are only exclusive to women whose businesses fall in design, arts, music, and fashion categories. Selections are based on innovation, creativity, planning, and solid proof of financial need.
Women's Business Centers
Women's Business Centers (WBCs) is a network of over 100 educational centers across the US. The centers are designed to help women in starting and growing businesses through comprehensive training and counseling. WBCs also help women entrepreneurs to find grants and loans.
Every year, the Amber Grant Foundation awards $10,000 funding to several women-owned businesses operating in the U.S. and Canada. And that's not all.
At the end of each year, one of the winners receives an additional $25,000 reward. The application process is relatively straightforward: Explain your business, state what you'd do with the money, and pay the application fee.
Eileen Fisher Business Grant
Apart from being a women's clothing retailer, Eileen Fisher also awards a $100,000 grant to 10 business owners every year. To be eligible, your business must have been operational for at least three years, focused on social or environmental change, earn less than $1 million per year in revenue, and be owned by women (at least 51% ownership.)
Other places to find small business grants include:
● Economic Development Administration
● FedEx Small Business Grant
● National Association For The Self-Employed
Now that you know where to find small business grants for women, let's take a look at what to do to increase your chances of winning.
How To Win A Business Grant
As mentioned earlier, the competition for business grants is stiff. Those up their game are more likely to succeed. And to help you do that, here are five tips to keep in mind.
Choose Grants Wisely
Winning business grants is a game of numbers. You must apply to many with the hope of earning a few.
Successful applicants say they spent many hours a week researching grants and investing in networking. But while at it, it pays to be selective.
Grant applications are time-consuming. And sometimes, they may require external paid support. Therefore, it is wise to make sure you're spending focusing on what you're eligible for.
Always keep in mind that most organizations offering business grants are experienced funders. They are very thoughtful about what and who to fund.
Study The Funder and Past Grants
Funders are looking for suitable candidates in many ways. They will look at your workplace culture, business strategies, and personal principles for shared missions and values.
If your vision, business approach, and missions are not aligned with theirs, you're less likely to win. So do a thorough review of past grants, recipients, and grand descriptions to gain insight on what to do to improve your chances of standing out.
Be Smart When Budgeting
Many business owners make the mistake of forcing budgets to correspond with the precise grant amount. In doing so, they end up losing focus on what the entire project will cost.
Funders have a team of experts who review grant applications. They can easily see through your numbers. And if they notice inaccuracies or irregularities, your applications will be denied.
So be smart when budgeting. Remember the purpose of the budget is to give the funder a clear picture and impact of what their grants will make on your business. Itemize what the money will be used for, and how much.
Sometimes, it takes a team's effort to win a grant. Instead of pursuing it alone, work with other people by leveraging your networks.
Build relationships with people working at organizations funding grants, thriving female business owners, and those who have won grants in the past. This will help you learn more about what funders look for, other grants, and other financing options to consider.