Want bucketloads of FREE cash?? who doesn’t. du’h! Many sites and articles have been devoted to Federal Government Funding in addition to various federal and state level capital funding programs. Grants from these programs don’t need to be repaid. May seem great in principle, but, for me, that also brings up a few more questions – If it’s that easy exactly why do thousands of dollars go unclaimed in this type of assistance each year? And why don’t I know anybody who’s ever received a federal loan for their small business?!
Apparently, after some research (and a lot of coffee!) it seems that the only answer to the question is that people are simply not aware of the programs that exist or that they don’t know how to take advantage of them. Understandable, the bureaucratic bungling of the government can’t also be expected to figure out a decent marketing campaign now can they? – it would be all just way too much work. Plus, most people don’t know how to apply for them anyway nor have the time to do all the tedious research to find what they are looking for. But Still, If all this money goes unclaimed – why don’t I just jump on it? In fact, if it’s so easy… surely the word would have spread long before now. So, what is the truth about government business grants? The good news appears to be that they are indeed real and thanks to the entrepreneurial mindset of the government’s new open-door policies, they’re not extremely difficult to track down if you know where to look. And that’s a big “IF”! The bad news: The actual government websites where they are listed are so poorly kept that they contain about one-tenth [at best] of the programs available and of those most are years out-dated and don’t exist anymore. This problem alone is about as irritating as the guy in the money suit himself. Here are the basics: The majority of grants available to private businesses are funded by government entities; after all, they’re the ones with access to the press that prints the money. Generally, for-profit businesses are not eligible for grants from charities, corporations, and foundations, but if your project pertains to the arts, education, science, or a similarly targeted cause, you may be the exception. Even with government grants, [depending on which country you live in] there’s no free lunch. They’re not actually giving away money. They expect something of value for it such as research, job creation, work performed, etc. In fact, in the USA some grant programs require “matching funds” whereas in Australia some grants are given purely on terms of creating your own business and getting off the tax-funded welfare bankroll Anyway, back to the point. A quick search for opportunities open to small businesses (companies with less than 500 employees) returned 587 open offers in the USA and 400+ in Australia. So, what’s the chance of finding a grant to expand your retail store? On one hand, slim. On the other hand, if you can justify that your store could become a local tourist attraction – probably very high. Better yet, you can prove that you’ll create jobs for the high-school drop-outs flipping burgers in a low-employment area – The money might be possibly handed to you on a silver platter. Likewise, if your expansion involves hiring the disadvantaged, job training, innovation, energy conservation, pollution reduction, or a myriad of projects big brother has targeted as part of the worldwide effort to re-build the pre-GFC economy you may just be eligible for your slice of the pie. If you don’t mind lots of paperwork (and if you already have a business, you already used to it – or you are great at palming it off to your secretary), frequent red-tape, and many strings attached, here’s a quick guide to the slow process of finding grant money for your business:
1. Should you qualify to receive any special small business designation – for instance minority-owned business enterprise or organization woman-operated company, or veteran-owned company – commence the accreditation process straight away . In most instances, it will give you selection over non-qualified businesses.
2. Gather your resources. Yes, you’ll want to have your Tax File Number and enterprise registration information handy.
3. Just like in your high-school examinations. Cheat. Use your main freedom of information liberties to find successful previous grant proposals of the type of funding you are submitting an application for.
4. Peer below the surface: you can discover grants which will justify nearly anything. A few of years back an Australian grant of one thousand USD was given out to a couple of lazy college students to study precisely how long the perfect amount of time would be to dip your Tim Tam (Famous Aussie Chocolate Cookie) into your breakfast espresso was before it had had an opportunity to disintergrate!
5. Consider to yourself “Is this for the general good” – should you currently have a project that assists the needs of the country (i.e. career training, returning to work, hiring the disadvantaged, reducing medical costs, curbing co2 emissions, increasing security, etc.) there’s most likely government cash to pay for it. If it encourages international or regional tourism dollars.. there’s most likely money to invest in it.
6. If you really want a grant or loan that is currently closed down to private enterprises, locate a not-for-profit that may wish to team up with for the endeavor and share in the profits with.
7. While Grants.gov does a [passable] job of cataloguing federal grant opportunities in the US you may also want to consider that most of the grants that are probably more relevant to your business and that have much less people applying for them, are the funding opportunities that no-one has bothered to put on the grants.gov website anyway [usually due to an 8-hour government employee shift involves a 7.5 hour coffee break].A good example of this is the Australian version of grants.gov called Grantslink – 400 grants were listed, with one google search within 10 minutes i found another 3000+ government grants that were not listed on grantslink. Hmmm. Also, for non-government grants, and charitable grant – you would need weeks or months to search through all this data. In recent years a few smart businesses have popped up who have aggregated all the latest grant funding and government loan options information into one package – these are always going to be a better source of information because they are privately researched, up-to-date, complete and accurate. GovernmentBusinessGrants.com.au offers Australian’s an online subscription-based access to their database of grants as well as a hardcopy sent on DVD to the business owner. There are a number of businesses in the US, UK and Europe who offer a similar product. This is by far the easiest way to go and will save you a LOT of research time that you could be using to work on your business.
8. Be in it for the long haul. Most grant solicitations are issued at specific times of year. Often, the deadline for proposals is very tight. Plan ahead so you don’t arrive at the party just as the dishes are being scraped.
9. Dot your i’s cross t’s. Applying for grant money is an exercise in precision. One misstep and you’ll be out of the running. Governmental red-tape can be a real nightmare if your application is received by a cranky proposal reviewer who was made to come back early from her 7.5 hour coffee-break.
If reading this article has left you a little confused – you already have a good feel for the business of grants. But if you have a unique solution to the world’s problems, a special technical ability or just the intelligence to get your cash for free..
10. Just dive in the deep-end and do it. In the end it’s ALWAYS easier to step outside your comfort zones.
If you’re an Australian Entrepreneur, and you’re looking to expand your business with aGovernment loan – The Government Business Grants Guide has all the up-to-minute info available and is half the price of other guides whilst being most comprehensive Business Grants Guide on the market.