Starting a small business can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor, but it’s not without its challenges. One of the biggest hurdles many entrepreneurs face is securing funding. This is where small business grants can be a game-changer. Unlike loans, grants are free money that you don’t have to repay, which can provide a much-needed boost to your business without adding debt.
But where do you find these small business grants? The good news is that there are many private and federal grants available, each with their own eligibility requirements and application processes. Today, we’ll introduce you to ten small business grants that you can apply for, along with some helpful tips on how to make your application stand out.
What Are Small Business Grants?
Small business grants are funds that are provided to entrepreneurs and business owners to help them start, grow, or sustain their businesses. Unlike loans, grants do not have to be repaid, making them an attractive source of funding for many small business owners.
Grants are typically awarded by private foundations or government agencies, and they often come with specific eligibility requirements and restrictions on how the funds can be used. Some grants may be targeted towards specific industries or demographic groups, while others may focus on specific geographic areas or business sizes.
Small business grants can provide funding for a variety of purposes, including equipment purchases, marketing and advertising campaigns, hiring employees, and expanding business operations. By securing a grant, entrepreneurs and business owners can often access the capital they need to grow their businesses without taking on additional debt.
Private Small Business Grants
Private small business grants are offered by private organizations, like corporations or foundations, to support entrepreneurs and small business owners. Some of the most notable private small business grants include:
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest: Existing businesses can apply for this $30,000 grant. You’ll need to capture your business’s story via video, so start practicing your pitch today.1
National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants: This grant is worth up to $4,000 and is offered to NASE members looking to take their business to the next level.2 You can use the funds for all types of activities, like purchasing new equipment, hiring help, and creating promotional material.
The StreetShares Foundation Veteran Business Grant: This grant is open to veterans, active-duty members, or the spouse of a military veteran or active duty member.3 Applicants can receive up to $15,000 and will be judged based on their business idea, their expected use of funds, product-market fit, team, and the influence the business will have on the veteran or military community.
Halstead Jewelry Grant Award: If you’re a jewelry artist, you can apply for this annual grant award of $7,500.4 In addition to funds, Halstead aims to help jewelry artists develop their business, fine-tune their plans, and hit their goals.
Federal Small Business Grants
Federal small business grants work in much the same way, though these are provided by the U.S. government. These grants are typically more broadly available and less targeted towards specific industries or groups compared to private grants.
Small Business Innovation Research Program: If you’re an entrepreneur focused on innovations in technology that have the potential for commercialization, this grant program could be for you.5 The program’s focus areas from the past include clean and safe water, homeland security, land revitalization, green construction, advancement of health care, and more.
Small Business Technology Transfer Program: This program aims to expand funding for innovative research and development leveraging existing technology. Small businesses get the opportunity to formally collaborate with research institutions throughout the program.
Department of Defense Grants: The DoD offers grants to small businesses through the STTR program and a number of other initiatives, like the Defense Enterprise Science Initiative. The Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office, and the U.S. Army Research Institute are all looking for research and development of technology that will help them reach their goals.
Department of Energy Grants: The DOE offers grants through the SBIR and STTR programs for innovative research and development leveraging technology developed by a university or a DOE National Lab.
National Institute of Health (NIH) Grants: This federal agency offers business grants to small businesses developing and researching biomedical technology.6
Grant Application Tips
The small business grant application process can vary depending on the grant provider, but generally they involve thorough research, adherence to deadlines, and a compelling business plan.
- Start early and do your research.
- Make sure you’re eligible before you apply.
- Create a strong business plan and proposal.
- Be concise and clear in your writing.
- Get feedback from others before submitting.
- Follow the application instructions carefully.
- Keep track of important deadlines and required documentation.
Find Funding Today!
Small business grants can be a great way to fund your business without the burden of debt. With so many grants available, it’s important to do your research and find the right one for you. Remember to search online for more deals and advice.
And when you do apply, make sure you put your best foot forward by following the application instructions carefully, creating a strong proposal, and getting feedback from others. Good luck in your small business endeavors!