Securing traditional small business funding can be a feat for both new and established entrepreneurs, but there are many opportunities to secure “low hanging fruit” in the form of small business grants. While applying for grants does require an investment of your time, winning grant funds essentially means that you’ve scored free funding to fuel your business growth. The key to ensuring that the time you spend pursuing grants is productive, however, is efficiently locating the grants that you stand the best shot of securing, based your small businesses specialty. Here are four resources to find the grant funding you need.
- Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. A Federally backed program serving for-profit small businesses that are at least 51% owned by United States citizens, SBIR grants are intended to support entrepreneurs who contribute to some facet of science, technological innovation, or research and development. Though funding is distributed in a phased, performance-based approach, grants can exceed more than $1 million.
- Grants.gov An all-encompassing and free online resource for finding government grants, Grants.gov has an advanced search feature that allows potential applicants to efficiently sift through thousands of open and active grant programs based on a small businesses market, indusdtry, and objective.
- Private grants. Small business private grants generally don’t exceed $1,000, but they are a painless way to pursue free money that can make a big difference in your bottom line. For example, submitting a two minute YouTube video about your business to Idea Café can lead to $1,000 in business funding. A one page submission and $7 application fee puts your hat in the ring to secure a $500 Amber Foundation Grant for women-owned businesses. Though the 2012 deadline to apply for Intuit’s Love a Local Business has passed, its grant program offers small business the opportunity to access up to $5,000—just for being a “fan favorite” in the community.
- National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants. NASE Growth Grants offer active members potential access to up to $5,000 in grant funds to invest in a variety of business needs that fuel growth, whether it’s hiring more employees, enhancing marketing initiatives, or securing facility space.
Securing the necessary capital to grow your business can be a key conundrum of entrepreneurship, but the more aware you are of opportunities to build your business at low (or no) costs, the better you can pave a path to success .
Thanks to Stephanie Taylor Christensen for this guest post. Stephanie has written for ForbesWoman, Intuit, RealSimple and more.