Unlike a traditional business loan, grants do not need to be repaid, do not require collateral and accrue no interest. In certain industries, there are grants you can apply for that will provide the funds to start or grow your business.
Not all business types or locations will qualify for grants. The most common types of grants are for non-profit agencies. However, there are grants available to help with some for-profit business plans depending on the business owner and the industry.
Research and talk to the administrators of the grant to see if you qualify for funding assistance. These are typical ways to find grant funding for your new or growing business.
- Coronavirus Grants- Due to the massive economic impact of the 2020 Coronavirus shut downs, there are new programs available for small businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation started the Save Small Business Fund, which can provide up to $5,000 to businesses in economically impacted communities, funded by larger businesses. The Economic Injury and Disaster Loan is part of the government CARES act. While it is technically a loan, if the money is used for payroll, increased costs, mortgages, rent, and other financial obligations, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has the authority to forgive the debt, turning it into a grant.
- State Small Business Grants- While every state differs in what types of businesses they fund through these grants, all states have programs to support and promote the growth of small businesses. Some of these funds are matching grants, where the business will need to secure half of the funding and the grant provides the other half. Check with your state for specific small business grant programs. Your local SBA office can help you find these opportunities.
- U.S. Economic Development Administration- As part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, they can help new small businesses find funding, establish a business plan, and provide support for businesses that are making a difference in their community through innovation and opportunity.
- Local Business Grants- On a micro level, your community may have opportunities for businesses to compete for grant money or community supported funds. These grants may be smaller, but they will also be less competitive. Many communities have programs to support and promote small businesses, and offer incentives for new businesses to start and expand within city limits.
- Private Company Funds- Keep an eye on leaders in your industry for opportunities to apply for grant funding from large corporations. These businesses receive tax incentives for investing grant money into small businesses. Plus, the expertise and innovation of small businesses helps the community thrive and grow.
- Grants.gov- While this website can be daunting, it is a comprehensive list of all government programs that offer grant funding. Searching for appropriate opportunities can be time consuming, but finding a perfect fit will enable your business to grow without the burden of debt.
- Boots to Business- This entrepreneurial education and training program offers support services to active service members, veterans and spouses to start their own businesses. This is sponsored by the Small Business Administration and gives members a road map to business success and support for the first five years of a new venture.
While grant funding for new businesses is not a guarantee, if your business qualifies, it is worth the time it takes to apply. There are restrictions on what the money can be used for, but it will boost your business without taking on debt that may be difficult to pay in the future. If you are awarded community grant funds, the publicity will help you gain customers and positive reviews that are essential for word-of-mouth businesses.