If you run a small business, receiving a grant will likely provide the funding you need to operate effectively. However, you should be aware that not all businesses qualify. Should you decide to apply for a grant, be sure to research the types of grants available and determine whether or not your business will meet the qualifications. This way, you can avoid wasting time on creating a business plan and completing an application that will automatically be denied.
Who Can Receive a Government Grant?
Only certain types of businesses qualify to receive a government grant. These include the following:
- Education organizations, such as public, private, and independent institutions
- Government organizations, such as state, local, and district governments
- For-profit organizations and not-for-profit organizations
- Individuals, who only qualify for grants that are offered to individuals rather than businesses
- Public and American Indian housing authorities
- Small businesses that meet established size criteria
Qualifying for a Government Grant
There’s a common misconception that free government grants are available to any business who needs one; however, there are often strict qualifications. Since grant money is funded by taxpayers, the government takes steps to ensure that the money disbursed will be spent in a productive manner. Government grants are not available to cover business operating expenses, pay off business debt, or start a business; therefore, the government will deny your application if you need money for any of those reasons.
Government grants for small businesses are typically available only for specified industries or specific causes that the government deems important. These might include medical research, scientific research, or conservation causes. In addition, the Small Business Innovation Research Program funds grants for research and development projects if companies can create a business plan to bring unique technology products to market. This program is sponsored by the Small Business Administration, although the administration itself does not offer grants.
Locating Government Grants
There are two main websites you can use to locate potential grants. The first is the SBA Loans and Grants Search Tool, where you can find grants that are specifically tailored for small businesses. The second option is to search Grants.gov, which is a database provided by the Federal Government. If you use the advanced search feature, you can look up grants by eligibility or category.
Applying for Government Grants
When applying for a grant, you should be prepared to answer pertinent questions regarding your business plan, such as the amount of money you need, the reason the money is required, your financial situation, and how your project will benefit the community. You can apply for a grant by downloading an application from Grants.gov and registering your business. After submitting the application, you will receive confirmation that it has been received and you can begin tracking your submission.
What If I Don't Qualify?
If you don’t qualify for a government grant, you can apply for a Small Business Loan via the SBA. However, before filling out the loan application, be sure that you have created a business plan that emphasizes the benefits of your product or service and which market it will serve.