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Looking for funds to develop new products and services? You may be eligible for a government grant. It’s something many small business owners aren’t aware of, despite their wide availability.
Government agencies, from local to state and federal level, offer a range of financial concessions to eligible small businesses. These include grants, rebates, subsidies, loans and incentive schemes. To be successful, grant applications require detailed research and solid preparation.
So how can your business secure a government grant or assistance? These tips can help you ensure a successful application.
1. Where to start
Grant directories are a good place to discover what funding is available and most relevant to your business.
Local, state and federal governments all have directories with information on their latest business initiatives, including application criteria, cut-off dates and tips on how to apply.
You can find more information about all federal government grants and financial assistance on their website.
State and local governments operate closer to the local economy and are often looking for ways to help businesses grow. The best place to start is on your state government and council websites. Chamber of commerce offices are also a good source of local information.
2. Making the commitment
You need to work out if your business has enough time and resources to prepare an application. Researching, planning and writing a grant application requires significant work. Consider how much time you have before you apply.
3. Consider the costs involved
Most funding programs require you to match the funding with some of your own money. Make sure you have resources available for your specific purpose and don’t start any work before your funding is confirmed. If you require professional assistance, factor in these costs.
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4. Follow guidelines
All funding programs have guidelines. These include the program’s objectives, eligibility criteria, amount of funding available, required supporting material and closing dates. Read the guidelines well in advance of the due date as late applications are rarely considered.
5. Application requirements
Most grant applications require:
- A description of your business, and possibly a business plan
- A project description, including aims and objectives
- A plan on how you will use the money
- Details of your experience and skills, and those of key personnel
6. Prepare your documentation
Including accurate and up-to-date information about your business’s finances is essential to impress the government department assessing your application. Hire a bookkeeper to get your business’s financials in order so you can include your latest financial results in your application.
7. Hire professional help
Some government grants may be large enough for you to consider engaging a consultant who assists businesses draft and submit grant applications. They can provide feedback on what makes an application get the tick of approval.
8. Ask a friend or mentor
If you can’t afford professional help, ensure at least two people review and proofread your application. Make sure at least one of them is not familiar with your business. Along with finding typographical errors, they can tell you if the application addresses the criteria and is backed up with the required documents.
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