Monday Marketing Minutes Small Business Info

Grant Writing for Small Businesses

Small Business Grant WritingFinding the funds to start or improve your small business is not always easy. Have you ever considered looking into the possibility of getting a grant? There are all kinds available, but keep in mind that a grant probably won’t be your major funding source.

“Grants are typically a donation of a set amount of money made by foundations, other businesses, government agencies or nonprofit organizations to companies or individuals that meet specific requirements and quality for the grant. Grants do not have to be paid back. Grants for businesses follow strict requirements and are typically offered for minority- or veteran-owned businesses or to individuals that have a disability,” outline the experts at BusinessInsuranceQuotes.

Before you dismiss grant writing for your small business because you don’t think that you fit into one of the above categories, know that you have options if you know where to look and how to write a killer proposal. Here’s a step-by-step guide to developing grant proposals that mean serious business:

Get your creative juices flowing.
If you’re not a veteran, a minority or you don’t have a disability, does your business fit into one of the below categories by chance?
• Construction of streets, neighborhood centers, recreation facilities and other public works
• Rehabilitation of public and private buildings
• Public services
• Planning activities
• Assistance to nonprofits for community development activities
• Assistance to private, for-profit entities to carry out economic development activities
If so, you may be able to apply for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). “If your business can perform, or participate in any of these activities, then you have a good shot at receiving CDBG funding,” says business blogger Wilton Blake. Think outside of the box. How can you offer your products or services to already-funded projects as a contractor?

In order to accomplish your small business grant writing goals, first arm yourself with information, including finding out who the key community leaders are, what government entity is in charge of administering CDBG funds and what their current funding priorities are.

Next, here’s a down-and-dirty checklist, of things to make sure you do before you start the actual grant writing (thanks again to BusinessInsuranceQuotes):
• Complete your business plan.
• Identify financial needs and purpose.
• Write an executive summary of your business’ needs.
• Research funding sources for grants.
• Identify granting organizations that match your business vision and goals.
• Get a hold of grant application guidelines, information and contact person.
• Before you start writing, clarify any questions about the application you may have.

Set aside ample time.
Now that you’ve figured out where your small business fits the bill, and have a clear vision of your business goals and objectives, you can start developing the first draft of the grant proposal. Set aside plenty of time to strategize what you want to say and tweak the verbiage. Plan on revising your draft two or more times until it’s just right. You usually only get one shot … no pressure!

Fine-tune the grant writing.
Tailor your grant specifically for the grant package in front of you, and follow the package’s instructions very carefully and in order. This includes any instructions on format, style, timeframe — even what type of paper and binder to use. “Mirroring the verbiage in the document helps to let the organization providing the grant know that you understand their organization’s purpose,” advise the experts at Excellent Proofreading and Writing. Make sure everything that you write is very clear and to the point so that there isn’t any room for questioning. You don’t want your grant to end up in the trash for not being thorough and following their directions to a tee.

Include a cover letter.
You should include a cover letter with your grant application just like you would when applying for a job. In one page, the cover letter should include your contact information and a synopsis of the grant application. “Let the granting organization know that you understand goals and purposes by dovetailing your business needs in with that purpose,” says Excellent Proofreading and Writing.

Proofread, proofread, proofread.
Once you think it’s 100-percent good to go, don’t send it off just yet. Let your final draft sit for a whole day (seriously, put it down and come back to it later, 24 hours later if possible). Then, reread it. Also have at least two other people that you trust read it to help you catch any small mistakes that you might have overlooked. No mistakes? Clear and concise? Follows the rules about order, format and style? Congrats, you’re ready to submit your grant application.

Do you have another great tip about grant writing for small businesses? Leave our readers a comment on our 123Print Facebook page, tweet us @123Print or write a note below. Thanks in advance!

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Wilton Blake
    April 15, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Thanks for including Community Development Block Grants in your article. This is an overlooked revenue source. It takes a bit of time researching current and future funding on the city or county level, but it’s worth the effort. These grant-related contracts can last one to two years or more.

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