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The UPS Store Small Business Blog
  • 18 August 2023
  • Public Relations

How to Apply for a Small Business Grant: Top Tips You Need to Know

Passionate entrepreneurs know the importance of being creative and driven when starting up a small business. While it takes a lot of commitment and hard work to make any new business successful, it is also essential to have financial support to take your idea from the ground up.

How to apply for a small business grant-1

Fortunately, there are various avenues like small business grants that can help provide you with the specific resources and funds you need for your dream business. Small business owners can use these resources to launch their enterprises or even expand current operations. From discovering creative ways to apply for grant money to finding unique funding opportunities, passionate entrepreneurs now have all the tools they need to capitalize on their passion!

This blog post is meant for those aspiring business owners who wish to follow their passion and be their own boss. Read on to learn more about business grants, how to apply for them and other tips to ensure you're set for success.

What Is a Small Business Grant?

Small business grants are a form of assistance to help small business owners. Grants are often available through the state, local, and federal government, as well as from private companies. Small business grant money is generally issued for specific purposes and should be used for legitimate expenses that will benefit a company or organization’s operations.

Depending on the size of the business and other conditions, there might be varying eligibility criteria that must be met to receive this type of financial assistance. Small businesses can use grant money for many things like paying rent or buying new equipment, hiring new employees, training existing staff, expanding their operations and much more.

Grants vs. Loans

A small business grant and a loan are two distinct ways for small businesses to receive funding. Receiving a small business grant means that eligible small businesses can get essentially free money to help fund their venture or project. On the other hand, receiving a small business loan requires them to pay back the borrowed money with interest over time.

Small business grants may come from private companies, nonprofits or government programs, while loans usually come from banks and other financial institutions. The criteria for eligibility may vary depending on the source of funding.

To qualify for a grant, applicants must submit an application and demonstrate that their venture meets certain criteria. In order to receive a loan, borrowers must provide evidence of collateral.

When to Apply for Small Business Grants

Applying for small business grants can be a great way to get the infusion of capital needed to start or grow your business. For eligible entrepreneurs, it is important to know when and how to apply for the grant that fits your business model. Knowing when and how to apply for a grant can make the process much easier and help distinguish you from your competitors.

Small businesses have access to a variety of grant programs that target different industries, needs and goals. Understanding which grant programs are available and what eligibility requirements need to be met, can help determine when it’s time to apply for grant funding.

By researching the various grant programs available, small business owners can get an idea of what grant opportunities are available now or in the near future that best fit their individual needs.

Starting a small business has numerous requirements. Not only do you need the right skills and knowledge, but you also need financial resources to make your business successful. Seeking advice from mentors about small business grants is an important step for entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses.

Mentors can help entrepreneurs navigate through the process of applying for these grants and provide valuable insights into the best ones they should target based on their individual needs. Business education is key when applying for these grants as it helps prepare entrepreneurs with all the necessary information needed in order to get approved. Seeking advice from mentors on small business grants is essential if you're looking to start your own venture.

Also, mentors can do more than help you find small business grants. They can be a great resource when it comes to uplifting your business in a particular field. Read our blog post, "7 Professionals to Consult for Your Small Business" for more information.

Common Grants Available to Small Businesses

There are multiple grants available to aspiring small business owners to help get their businesses off the ground, as well as specific grants for different types of small businesses.

Grants can range from a few thousand dollars up to hundreds of thousands, depending on the program and the specific requirements. While applying for a grant is not always easy, it is worth exploring all the options that are out there and finding out which programs you might be eligible for.

Here are some of the grants out there that you might consider to help fund your small business.

Federal Grants

Federal grants are an important source of financial support for small businesses. They provide access to funds from the federal government that can be used to start or expand a small business. Grants are available through various federal agencies, such as the Economic Development Administration or the Small Business Administration, and are typically awarded based on an evaluation of the applicant's qualifications, needs, and ability to meet specific criteria.

These federal funds can be used for activities such as research and development, capital investments, marketing campaigns and training programs. Small businesses must apply for a grant program through a federal agency in order to receive funds. To be eligible for most grants, businesses must meet certain criteria such as size requirements, location restrictions, or industry focus.

By taking advantage of these grant programs, small businesses can obtain much-needed funding and resources without incurring any debt or paying any interest on the money received.

State and Local Government Grants

State and local governments can be a great source of capital for small businesses to help them start, expand, or sustain operations within a certain state or local authority. These grants are usually offered as incentives to support small business development, create jobs, and stimulate the local economy.

Business owners should research the grant opportunities that are available in their state or locality. It is important to understand the eligibility criteria as well as the application process in order to access these funds.

Some states may also offer additional financial assistance programs such as loan guarantees and tax credits that can help businesses access other funding sources.

Corporate Grants

Corporate grants are funds given by established private businesses and other entities to support small businesses and entrepreneurs. These grants may provide monetary or in-kind resources that can help the recipient succeed.

Receiving a corporate grant can mean significant financial gain for a company, as well as access to resources, connections and advice that may be difficult to come by otherwise.

Often the companies that award these grants to aspiring entrepreneurs do so as part of their corporate social responsibility program (CSR). A CSR is a great way to let the public know that the company gives back to the community and those in need. Some corporations have independent programs that they use to award money, but others may fund their own charitable foundations.

Other Small Business Grants

Another grant program to explore is UPS Ignite. Many talented entrepreneurs need more access to the knowledge, business training, capital and networks they need to succeed. That's why UPS partnered with several leading organizations to provide these resources and tools to diverse entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

Additionally, The UPS Store, Inc. offers incentive programs for diverse entrepreneurs and groups like Veterans and first responders interested in becoming a The UPS Store center owner. You can read about it here.

Other programs aimed to help minority groups and ensure everyone prospers in achieving their dreams of owning their own business include:

Women-Owned Business Grants

Women entrepreneurs launching their own businesses may be eligible for small business grant programs specifically for women-owned businesses. Such as:

  • Foundation for a Just Society: Foundation for a Just Society is an organization that provides grants to women-owned businesses and LGBTQI people. Its mission is to help these communities thrive and become agents of social change. Through its small business grants, the foundation supports entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and strong leadership skills. These grants are designed to provide financial assistance to startups, enabling them to grow and bring positive change in their communities.
  • WomensNet: This organization is committed to providing women-owned businesses the resources they need to succeed. Every month, they select a woman-owned business and award them a $10,000 grant through their Amber Grant program. This grant is designed to provide small business owners with the capital they need to take their business to the next level.
  • Visa She’s Next: Visa has launched a grant funding program called She's Next to support and empower women-owned businesses. The goal of the program is to provide financial assistance and resources to these businesses, so they can continue to grow and expand their operations.

Black, Indigenous and People of Color-Owned Business Grants

Another group of entrepreneurs who can benefit from grants that are exclusive to their minority groups are those of Black, Indigenous and other peoples of color. Some specific grants to be aware of include:

  • Grow by Invoice2go: Invoice2go is a business software provider that’s launched its Grow by Invoice2go business grant. This program is intended to provide financial assistance to entrepreneurs from minority-owned businesses and other businesses run by people of color. The company will be donating $200,000 to the recipients of the grant. By providing this funding, Invoice2go hopes to help more business owners succeed in an increasingly competitive market.
  • Black Founder Startup Grant: The Black Founder Startup Grant program was created by the SoGal Foundation to help empower Black-owned businesses and provide them with financial resources. Through this program, eligible businesses can receive a $10,000 grant or a $5,000 grant. This funding will help small businesses get access to resources and services that may not otherwise be available to them.
  • Coalition to Back Black Businesses: The Coalition to Back Black Businesses is a program created to bring financial assistance and support to Black-owned businesses in the U.S. It seeks to provide immediate financial assistance and resources that have been historically lacking in the business community for America's Black-owned companies.
  • Rebuild the Block Bridge the Gap: The Bridge the Gap Fund is a grant that provides business grants to Black entrepreneurs who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and/or looting destruction. This grant runs annually and takes three months for donations to be awarded.

How to Apply for a Small Business Grant

Applying for a small business grant can be a great way to get the funding you need to help your business grow. With the right resources and information, you can find out which grants are available and how to make sure that your application is successful.

In order to apply for a small business grant, you must have a legally registered business and be able to demonstrate that your company meets certain criteria. You will also need to identify the most relevant funding opportunities for your company and compile all of the necessary documents required in order to complete an application.

Understand Timelines

Applying for a small business grant requires planning, attention to detail and understanding of deadlines. It is important for any business owner or nonprofit organization to understand all the timelines when it comes to applying for a monetary grant from government agencies or a for-profit business. Knowing when materials are due and getting ahead of the curve is essential in this process.

Some things to consider include:

  • Application timelines
  • Submission deadlines for supporting materials
  • Preplanning
  • Thorough organization and preparation
  • Expert advice from other professionals, like those at The UPS Store

Get Your Documents in Order

Applying for small business grants is a great way to secure funding for your business. To be eligible for a grant, you need to make sure that your documents are in order. This includes preparing a detailed business plan, financials, business name and tax documents.

You also need to provide your employer identification number and other relevant information during the application process. Nonprofit organizations should also include tax-exempt letters in order to receive a monetary grant.

It’s important to have all of this information ready before submitting a grant application. Having well-organized documents can help increase your chances of getting approved for the grant and facilitate the process of obtaining small business funding.

Seek the Expertise of a Grant Writer

A grant writer is an expert in searching for and writing grant applications. Whether they're on your team or a freelancer, their expertise can help businesses apply for grants that they may not have known about or had the skills to write effectively.

The technical assistance provided by a grant writer is invaluable during the grant application process. Experienced grant writers can help craft a business grant proposal that meets the criteria of granting organizations and improves your chances of success. They also know how to navigate the complex application process, helping to ensure that all paperwork is properly completed and submitted on time.

By seeking out the services of qualified grant writers, you can increase your chances of securing funding for your business. With their expertise, you can make sure that your business receives the financial boost it needs to succeed.

Follow Up

After you’ve submitted your grant application, it’s important to stay on top of your inbox and phone calls. Whether you’re applying for a business grant from the government or a specific grant from a corporation, staying in touch with the organization is key to making sure that the funding process runs smoothly.

Keeping track of any updates or requests for additional information can help increase your chances of being approved. Additionally, staying on top of deadlines and responding promptly will show that you are serious about receiving the funding.

Before you go, we have one last tip.

Utilize the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) as a resource for finding grant programs and funding. The SBA has a wealth of resources available to help business owners succeed.

You can find information about tax credits, loan programs, business planning and marketing tools, government contracting guidance, and more. In addition to this, the SBA offers helpful resources such as webinars and podcasts to further educate you on how to build and maintain your small business. The resources provided by the SBA are invaluable for those looking to get started in business or expand an existing one.

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