Small businesses are a big part of the American economy.And studies show that women entrepreneurs seem to run them better. Female-led businesses:
Increased by over 20% between 2018 and 2019
Account for close to 50% of all businesses in the USA
Generate about $2 trillion in revenue
Employ over 9.4 million workers
Such tremendous growth can be attributed to improved access to funding, including business grants. According to a University of Nebraska report, small businesses that win grants see up to $4.46 return for every dollar received. That’s an impressive Return On Investment (ROI).
And here’s why:
Benefits of Business Grants
Free money: unlike business loans, grants don't need to be repaid
Waterfall effect: winning one business grant increases your chances of receiving others because it demonstrates the potential and reliability of you and your business
Gaining credibility: getting a business grant boosts brand visibility and promotes your business
Despite all the positive growth, many female business owners aren't giving business grants the attention they deserve. Some think it's impossible to win one. Others are simply unaware of business grants as a funding source. If you fall into one of these, we have some good news for you.
Winning a business grant isn’t rocket science -- it’s really a matter of research, preparation, clear writing, and following all directions. In short, you can get approved if you put in the effort.
We want to help you be the next winner. So in this post, we surveyed women entrepreneurs just like you for their top five tips on how to direct that effort toward receiving a small business grant.
How to Get Approved for a Small Business Grant
Make Enough Time to Apply
In the excitement of applying for a grant, you may lose sight of many important details like deadlines. Make it a point and reminder not to do this. It can quite literally pay to take the necessary time to apply.
Maggie Clayton, the co-founder of Running Dogs Brewery, admits they almost missed the opportunity to apply for the Nav Grant. They found it with just 48 hours left to apply. Even with the tight timeline, Running Dogs Brewery won $10,000 from Nav's Small Business Grant. They used this grant to expand their space to accommodate more guests and host events.
Maggie advises women entrepreneurs to take the time to find grants. She warns that the one you may be ignoring or underestimating may give you the much-needed funds to grow your business.
Keep Your Application Simple and Concise
Many grant RFPs receive hundreds to even thousands of applications. Award teams have to go through thousands of pages, at minimum. As a result, applications that are simple to read and understand are more likely to stand out.
Romy Taormina, founder and CEO of Psi Bands, says the best way to keep your application simple and succinct is by following instructions. She recommends providing the information asked and not adding more than is asked for and needed.
This strategy helped Romy win two $3,000 State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant Programs and $15,000 from the Huggies Mom Inspired Grant. She used the grants to move out of her home office and meet the cost of attending international trade shows.
Know the Numbers
Your first challenge is keeping your application simple and concise. But your next challenge is substantiating your claims.
Government agencies, private companies, organizations, and institutions providing grants want to support viable businesses. So you need to prove their demand for your products and services.
Marcia Layton Turner, a member of the advisory board for WomensNet, which awards grants of $10,000 and $25,000 to women business owners, recommends using these statistics (that you’re probably tracking already):
- Sales figures
- Average traffic numbers to your website or store
- Growth percentages
- Market size
- Industry growth
Research Funder History
After substantiating your claims, it's time to study the funder and past recipients. You're looking for a match on both sides.
Lindy Hikind, the founder of GrantWatch, says even if you're eligible for a business grant, you may not be the recipient if your vision is not aligned with the funders’ vision. Conduct a thorough review of past grants, recipients, and descriptions to gain a deeper insight into what they're looking for in an application.
Fortunately, many grant programs offer links to previous winners.
Hire a Professional Grant Writer
Crafting a grant proposal is a specialized skill, but, like any skill, it can be learned with study and practice. Don't randomly assign it to anyone in your company.
Hiring an experienced grant writer can be worth the money and has helped many businesses -- like Velvet Jobs -- win multiple grants.
You can find professional grant writers through niche communities and contractor job boards, such as:
- Professional associations like the American Grant Writers Association
- Small business administration center in your area
- Freelance platforms
- Writer communities on Facebook and LinkedIn
A small business grant can provide your business with much-needed funds to launch, grow, and thrive. But it takes skill and determination to win one. We hope these tips help you better strategize and prepare for applying to grants and, of course, getting approved.
For more information on how to find grants and apply to fund your business, search for grants here on Fundid’s Grant Marketplace.