Small business grant application tips

Applying for business grants represents an opportunity to uncover free funding for your business, but it’s not without an investment of your time and energy. Here are four business grant application tips to maximize your efforts.

  • Put yourself in the grantors shoes. Whether applying for a private grant or government funded one, there is always a business problem the grant strives to solve. Before you begin the application, write your answer to the following questions: What problems does the grant exist to solve? Why is it an important issue now? How can you tie the issue into your small business? Keep your answers close at hand when crafting your grant application to ensure you concisely express how your business will use awarded funds in the exact manner the grant intends.
  • Be specific. If you had money to loan, you’d likely be more apt to give it to a person who could tell you precisely why they needed the money, how it would used, and how they would ensure it was dedicated to the proper objectives. Grantors are no different. Support your understanding of the grant’s intention by being specific about how much money you seek, how you’ll allocate the funds, why the money will fuel growth, and how you’ll measure progress. If you can provide include relevant business model scenarios, a return on investment analysis, or past examples that substantiate your claims, even better. If there are others in your business that will play a key role in how the grant funds are used, or that have a personal stake in the grant’s purpose, include their background and expertise.
  • Learn from the past.  Many grantors publish the names and businesses of former grant recipients, and distribute media releases announcing grant winners, and the story behind why they were chosen. Scour the grantor website and Internet for this type of information, to understand the type of business the grantor is drawn to, and why. You can also contact former grant

    winners directly via email or a brief call for insight. Explain that you are applying for the same grant, and would be honored to understand more about what that business did right, to be chosen.

  • Keep records. Much of the information in a grant process is redundant; optimize the value of your time with efficient record keeping. While you don’t want your grant applications to be “boilerplate,” there are standard questions about your businesses history, leadership and finances that you’ll see again and again. Prevent “reinventing the wheel” and wasting your time, by keeping pertinent information close at hand.

Stephanie Taylor Christensen is a freelance writer in Columbus, Ohio and writes about small business matters. Her writing appears in RealSimple, ForbesWoman, Intuit Small Business, and other websites for entrepreneurs.

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