Best Small Business Grants To Secure Funding

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Businesses, particularly Limited Liability Companies, usually begin with a brilliant idea backed by passion. However, the reality is that these ventures also demand considerable financial backing. While individuals typically resort to self-financing, loans, or assistance from family and friends, business grants are one of the most substantial yet largely underused resources.

In this article, Webinarcare Editorial Team will provide you with the Best Small Business Grants to offer for your company! Learning about these opportunities, the application process, and how your business can leverage them is imperative, so let’s unravel the world of small business grants!

Understanding Small Business Grants

A small business grant is a type of financial assistance provided to small businesses that they don’t need to pay back. Unlike a loan, a grant is essentially “free money,” making it an attractive funding option for entrepreneurs. Federal, state, or local governments, corporations, and foundations typically provide small business grants to stimulate economic development, foster innovation, and boost job creation. However, these grants often come with specific requirements and guidelines regarding how the funds should be used, and they can be highly competitive, with numerous small businesses, like sole proprietorships and LLCs, vying for a limited pool of funding.

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Small business grants benefit start-ups and will help their business boom for success.

Small business grants are stepping stones on the entrepreneurial journey, bridging financial gaps to realize your dreams. As you start an LLC, remember that each grant is not just funding but a vote of confidence in your venture’s potential to thrive and flourish.

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The Best Small Business Grants

Grants for small businesses come in various shapes and sizes, meaning there’s something for every type of entrepreneur. Some key categories include:

Federal Small Business Grants

Federal Small Business Grants fund the federal government provides to small businesses. They are primarily directed toward specific industries or sectors such as technology, medicine, and education. Here are some federal grants for your business.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive federal initiative that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in research and development (R&D) with the potential for commercialization. The SBIR program is coordinated by the Small Business Administration (SBA). It operates across 11 participating federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation.

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To apply for the SBIR program, small businesses must submit proposals in response to agency-specific solicitations, which outline each participating federal agency’s research topics and priorities. The application process is highly competitive, emphasizing the proposed technology’s technical innovation, feasibility, and commercial potential.

Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program

The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program is a federal initiative designed to encourage collaboration between small businesses and research institutions in the United States. The program aims to promote the commercialization of innovative technologies from research and development (R&D) efforts and foster entrepreneurship and economic growth.

Administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), the STTR program involves five participating federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

To apply for the STTR program, small businesses must submit proposals in response to agency-specific solicitations, which outline each participating federal agency’s research topics and priorities. The application process is highly competitive, with a strong emphasis on the proposed technology’s technical innovation, feasibility, commercial potential, and the quality of the collaboration between the small business and research institution.

Other Federal Grant Programs

In addition to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, there are several other federal grant programs available to support small businesses and entrepreneurs in various sectors and stages of development in {{state}}. Some of these programs include:

Economic Development Administration (EDA) Grants: The EDA, under the U.S. Department of Commerce, offers grants to support economic development, job creation, and business growth in economically distressed communities. These grants are typically awarded to local governments, nonprofits, and economic development organizations, supporting small businesses through technical assistance, infrastructure development, and other services.

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Rural Business Development Grants (RBDG): Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the RBDG program offers grants to support small businesses in rural areas. These grants are intended to promote job creation, business expansion, and economic development in rural communities. Eligible applicants include towns, towns, communities, state agencies, nonprofits, and higher education institutions.

State and Local Business Grants

State and local business grants are financial incentives offered by various state government agencies, local agencies, and city councils. These grants aim to promote local economic development, stimulate job creation, and foster innovation among local businesses.

State business grants are available in every state and for different business sectors. For example:

  • New York State Small Business Grants: Several grants are available for small businesses in New York, ranging from the Empire State Development’s Division for Small Business Grant to the NYSERDA clean energy programs.
  • California Small Business Grants: The State offers several grants, like the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program, California Competes Tax Credit, and more.
  • Texas Small Business Grants: Texas offers grants such as the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Business & Community Economic Development Program.

State business grants can be under Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), which offer financial assistance to small businesses, including loans and grant programs. Some states like Texas, California, and Pennsylvania have excellent SBDC programs that can provide financial help to local inhabitants. You can find an SBDC in your area by visiting SBA’s resource partner website.

Local business grants vary based on individual cities or counties and are usually meant for businesses in that region. For instance:

  • Los Angeles Small Business Emergency Microloan Program provides financing to bolster small businesses in Los Angeles.
  • Chicago Small Business Improvement Fund grants property improvements in specific city districts.
  • Detroit Micro-Enterprise Grants awards funding to Detroit businesses with ten employees or fewer.

Interested companies should check local state websites, city council pages, or economic development offices for relevant grants, eligibility details, and application processes.

Corporate-Specific Grants

Many corporations run grant programs as part of their corporate social responsibility. These grants may target various sectors and business types, often designed to spur innovation, foster diversity, or address societal issues through entrepreneurship. Here is the list of corporate-specific grants.

FedEx Small Business Grant

The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest is open to for-profit small businesses in the United States. To be eligible to apply, businesses must have fewer than 99 employees and have been in operation for at least six months. The application is fairly simple: applicants write a brief profile about their company and include four images of their company or product, including their logo.

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To bolster their entry, applicants must also submit a 90-second “elevator speech” video. Winners are chosen through a combination of public voting and adjudication. Therefore, participants are urged to share their involvement with their social networks to increase votes. Following the judging phase, the following ten small firms are granted prizes:

  • Grand prize: One winner of $25,000, plus $7,500 in FedEx Office print and business services
  • Silver prize: One winner of $15,000, plus $5,000 in FedEx Office print and business services
  • Bronze prize: Eight winners of $7,500, plus $1,000 in FedEx Office print and business services

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest participants are eligible for discounts through this program. Winners will receive up to 29% off select FedEx Express services, 25% off select FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery services, and 20% off select FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery services. In addition, participants will enjoy up to 25% off black and white copies. There are no limits on how many times applicants can reapply if they were not given a grant in the prior application season.

Visa Everywhere Initiative

Visa Everywhere Initiative program tasks startups to solve commerce challenges of the future, enhance their product propositions, and provide visionary solutions for Visa’s vast network of partners.

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Visa Everywhere Initiative is an open innovation program that helps startups like yours unlock new opportunities — and can give you a global platform to demonstrate your ground-breaking solutions. The program launched in the U.S. in 2015 and quickly expanded into a global one. To date, nearly 12,000 startups have applied to the program — many of which now work with Visa or its clients.

How to Participate?

Visa will select one winner per region to move forward to the global finals event in San Francisco, CA.

  1. North America
  2. Europe
  3. Asia Pacific
  4. Latin America
  5. CEMEA [Central Europe, Middle East, Africa] – This region will run additional competitions.

Visa Everywhere Initiative is looking for the following to join the program. Of course, Small Businesses are welcome for this opportunity!

1. Enablers of digital services and digital issuers
2. Digital issuance
3. Value-add for merchants and/or consumers regarding finance
4. Small/medium-sized business

Google Ad Grants

Google offers grants for non-profit organizations that allow them to advertise on their platform at no cost. Google Ad Grants is a program launched by Google that offers free advertising credits to qualified nonprofits. This initiative aims to support nonprofit organizations in reaching a wider audience and achieving their goals more effectively. Through Google Ad Grants, nonprofits are granted a monthly budget to promote their cause through the Google Ads platform.

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The Google Ads platform allows organizations to create and display advertisements on Google’s search result pages and other websites, apps, and videos. It offers various advertising formats, including search, display, video, and more. With Google Ad Grants, nonprofits can harness the power of online advertising to raise awareness, attract volunteers, solicit donations, drive website traffic, and ultimately make a greater impact.

To be eligible for Google Ad Grants, nonprofits must meet specific criteria, including holding a valid charity status in one of the eligible countries, having a website with substantial content, and agreeing to Google’s requirements for the program. Once accepted into the program, nonprofits receive a monthly advertising budget of $10,000 through Google Ads credits.

Demographic-Specific Grants

Demographic-specific grants are tailor-made funding opportunities designed to help specific groups of entrepreneurs and business owners who may face additional challenges in starting or growing their businesses. These grants aim to promote diversity, equality, and economic inclusion. Some key demographic-specific grants include:

Women’s Business Center (WBC)

The Small Business Administration (SBA) sponsors WBCs across the United States, offering several grants targeted at women entrepreneurs to level the playing field.

Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

The MBDA provides grants for minority business owners. The agency identifies unique challenges these groups face and provides relevant financial assistance.

Grants for Young Entrepreneurs

There are also grants for young entrepreneurs, such as the Halstead Grant for emerging jewelry artists and the Thiel Fellowship for young people who want to build new things.

Grants for LGBTQIA+ Entrepreneurs

Examples include the Back2Business Grant Program by Grindr and the LGBTQ Loyalty Foundation Grant.

Entrepreneurs must explore the variety of demographic-specific grants available. Despite the high competition, these grants offer an excellent chance to secure funding and help bring various perspectives and ideas into the business world, fostering innovation and inclusivity.

Applying For Small Business Grants

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The application process and requirements for small business grants vary widely depending on the funding source. Common steps in the application process often include:

Step 1: Identifying Appropriate Grants

Identify grants that align with your industry, business size, location, and owner demographics. Some useful starting points include federal and state websites, corporate websites, and startup resource platforms.

Step 2: Reading the Guidelines

The next step is thoroughly reading the grant guidelines and eligibility requirements. Ensure your business qualifies before investing time and resources in the application.

Step 3: Preparing the Application

This often involves detailing your business plan and demonstrating the potential for success, growth, or positive impact on the community. Some grant applications require financial statements, tax returns, resumes of key team members, and more.

Step 4: Submitting the Application

Some grants have rolling deadlines, while others have specific time frames. Mark your calendar and send your application in time.

Step 5: Follow-Up and Reporting

Regular reporting on how you’ve used the funds and the impact on your business is often required if you receive a grant.

Applying for a small business grant is not just about securing funds; it’s about weaving the potential of your dream into a compelling narrative, showcasing your vision, and demonstrating your roadmap to success. Each application you send out reaffirms the change you aspire to bring, so make sure you decide the best grant you want to get for your business!

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Eligibility For Small Business Grants

Eligibility requirements vary significantly from one grant program to another. They could depend on factors such as business size, nature of the business, location, and the entrepreneur’s attributes. Potential applicants need to scrutinize the terms to increase their chances of approval. Important facets of eligibility include:

  • Type of Industry: Most small business grants cater to specific industries such as technology or healthcare. It’s essential to search for grants that focus on your business field.
  • Business Size: Many grants are limited to small businesses. However, the definition of ‘small’ can vary from one program to another, sometimes based on the number of employees or annual revenues.
  • Business Stage: Some grants are tailored for startups, while others cater to established businesses looking for expansion or innovation.
  • Location: Often, grants are designed to stimulate economic growth in specific regions or communities. If your business operates in a rural area or a region with high unemployment, it may have additional eligibility for certain grants.
  • Owner’s Demographics: Some grants aim to support underrepresented groups, such as women or ethnic minorities. You might be eligible for specific grants if you belong to such a group.

FAQs

What are small business grants?

Small business grants are non-repayable funds governments, corporations, or foundations offer to subsidize small businesses.

How can I find small business grants?

Small business grants can be found on federal, state, and local government websites, corporate websites, grants.gov, or organizations supporting small business growth.

Do I need to repay a small business grant?

No, unlike business loans, grants do not need to be repaid.

Are small business grants competitive?

Yes, small business grants are highly competitive as they offer “free money” and are sought after by many businesses.

Can anyone apply for small business grants?

Anyone can apply if they meet the criteria for the specific grant, which might include business size, location, industry, or owner attributes.

Are there grants specifically for women-owned businesses?

Yes, many organizations offer grants specifically for women entrepreneurs, such as the Amber Grant Foundation and the Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant.

What about grants for minority-owned businesses?

Yes, there are grants to support businesses owned by racial, ethnic, and other minority groups.

Are there grants available for veteran-owned businesses?

Several programs cater specifically to veteran-owned businesses, such as StreetShares Foundation’s Veteran Small Business Award.

Do I need a business plan to apply for small business grants?

More often than not, yes. A detailed business plan enables funders to understand your business and how you plan to use the grant money.

How long will it take to receive funds if my grant application succeeds?

The time frame varies depending on the grant provider, but it often spans weeks to months after the grant application deadline.

Are there grants for specific industries?

Yes, some grants target specific sectors, like technology, healthcare, the environment, or agriculture.

Can a startup qualify for business grants?

Yes, startups can qualify for certain grants depending on the eligibility requirements of the specific grant program.

What are some examples of corporate grants for small businesses?

Examples of corporate grants include the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest, Comcast RISE Investment Fund, and the Google Ad Grants program.

Can I apply for multiple grants?

Yes, you can, and it is often encouraged to increase your chances of receiving funding.

What can grant money be used for?

The grant program usually defines the use of grant money and can include business startup costs, business expansion, research, and development or community projects.

Do grants have to be declared as income?

In most cases, business grants are considered taxable income. It is advisable to consult with a tax professional for definitive guidance.

How do I write a grant proposal?

A grant proposal should briefly outline your business, how you plan to use the funding, and how that will benefit your company and community or industry.

How much money can I get from a small business grant?

The amount varies widely depending on the grant. Some grants offer a few hundred dollars, while others provide several thousand or even millions.

Can non-profit organizations apply for small business grants?

Yes, grants are available specifically for non-profits from various government and private sources.

Is it worth applying for small business grants?

Yes. Despite the competitive nature and the time-consuming process, small business grants offer a realistic opportunity to secure significant funding without the stress of repayment.

How to Choose the Best Small Business Grant for Your Business

When it comes to choosing the best small business grant for your business, there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, it’s essential to thoroughly research and understand the different types of grants available. From government grants to private foundation grants, each type of grant comes with its own set of guidelines and requirements. By taking the time to familiarize yourself with these different grant options, you can increase your chances of finding the right fit for your business.

Another critical factor to consider when choosing a small business grant is the eligibility criteria. Some grants may be open to businesses in specific industries or geographic locations, while others may have specific requirements related to business size or revenue. By carefully reviewing the eligibility criteria for each grant, you can save yourself time and effort by focusing on grants that align with your business’s needs and qualifications.

In addition to eligibility criteria, it’s essential to consider the objectives and goals of the grant provider. Some grants are focused on supporting businesses with a social impact, while others may prioritize promoting innovation or economic development. By aligning your business goals with the objectives of the grant provider, you can make a strong case for why your business deserves to receive funding.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to pay attention to the application process for each grant. Some grants may require extensive documentation and interviews, while others may have a more streamlined application process. By understanding the requirements and timeline for each grant, you can better plan and prepare for the application process, increasing your chances of success.

When choosing a small business grant, it’s also essential to consider the amount of funding available. While receiving any amount of funding can be helpful for small businesses, it’s crucial to evaluate whether the grant amount aligns with your business’s needs and objectives. Some grants may offer smaller amounts of funding that can help cover specific expenses, while others may provide larger sums that can support more significant growth and expansion efforts.

Lastly, it’s critical to evaluate the credibility and reputation of the grant provider. Before applying for a small business grant, take the time to research the organization offering the grant and ensure that they have a track record of supporting small businesses effectively. By choosing a reputable grant provider, you can increase your confidence that the funding will be used to benefit your business in the best way possible.

In conclusion, choosing the best small business grant for your business requires careful consideration of the grant types, eligibility criteria, objectives, application process, funding amount, and provider’s credibility. By taking the time to research and understand these factors, you can increase your chances of securing the financial support needed to drive your business forward.

Conclusion

Although business grants offer ‘free’ money, they should not be viewed as an easy cash avenue. Most grants come with strings attached, such as reporting obligations and how the cash may be applied. However, the upside is that they allow you to fund your venture without diluting ownership or incurring debt.

Every year, thousands of businesses secure grants. The untapped potential in this niche is significant. A thoroughly researched, well-written proposal can lay the path for substantial funding, offering much-needed financial relief. In all cases, it’s worth exploring grants and all they offer to the enterprising small business owner in today’s market.

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