Is the government really giving away money to people to start and expand a business? The answer is a mixed yes and no. The grants offered by the federal government are not exactly aimed at people who want to start a business, they are for non-profits, educations institutions and non-commercial organizations.
Yes, you could get a business grant through local programs and non-profits. Most of them are for businesses that imply generating efficient technology, encourage tourism or education. What you also need to know is that most of the time you are offered a small loan. This is still a good type of help because with your startup you would probably not get any type of funding at this point and the loan is offered under better conditions than a bank would offer it. The government might even offer venture capital financing programs to help you grow your business. That means that you will get the money that you need, but they will take some equity in your business.
The number of grants offered by the government and even by other institution is limited and the conditions are strict. If you really want to learn how to get a small business grant from the government you can check the official business portal at business.gov.
Don`t fall into any trap. Even institutions or other major companies that offer small business grants will not just give away money without getting something in return. They will want some part in your business, some benefits, equity or they will hope to get a contract with you or buy your future business when you make it big. But the good news is that it is not a bad thing. Even if you don`t plan to use a grant to start your business you would still need at some point in time to find a venture capital company or an angel investor to help you grow. And getting an investment from a VC is no child`s play, you really have to be prepared and prove that your company is generating some revenue.
So what is there to do? Study the conditions of all small business grants and pay attention to how and when you will need to repay the loan. Once you know everything there is to know go ahead and apply. Every financial help is gold when you are starting a business.
If you are looking to get a grant you naturally expect to find some offered by the government and they do offer some. There are two important types of educational grants offered in one way or another by the government. There are the federal grants and the state grants.
The federal grants are, as the name tells, grants offered by the federal government. One example is the Pell grant that is suitable for students that come from households with a low income per capita. Although it is quite strictly regulated it is still available to students and even post-graduate students that aim for a master`s degree. If you are a sophomore or freshman you can aim at the Academic Competitiveness Grant, but you will need to have excellent results in school so far. If you are in your fourth or third year and you find yourself out of money you can check out the SMART grant which is aimed at students who want to study mathematics, biology, liberal arts, engineering and so on.
Apart from the federal grants you have the State Grants which are offered by some of the states. They can be awarded based on performance, need and some are awarded based on the area of study of the student. One of the requirements is usually to study in that state. So if you want to study in another state than your own you might want to see what grants the Department of Education of that state is offering.
If these types of grants do not seem suitable for you or if you are in a special situation look for help at the local educational center or even in your University. You will probably find out about minorities grants or grants for women offered by the government that could be a better choice for you.
It is important to remember that when applying for a government grant you need to pay special attention to how you fill the application for it and to the accuracy of the data that you insert. Governments and state institutions are known for their bureaucratic processes so play by the rules to increase your chances.
When you are looking for a grant you are in a race and that is because, obviously, the number of students who want and need grants is much larger than the number of grants that are available out there. So in order to get an advantage you need to develop a few skills and use some tricks.
One good trick is to go outside your University of choice. Use some research skills to dig for grants in bookstores and school counseling offices. Use smart Internet search to identify grants in your area and to get all the application data which you must study carefully in order to get all the details. Go to state and regional government educational offices and ask them if they know about any type of grants.
Consider multiple fields of study. Grants are usually offered for specific fields of study and some of them may not be your first choice, but consider getting free education as opposed to finishing college and being in great debt. Not having debt when you finish education can be a great push forward.
Make a good list of the grants you found and create a calendar of the submission dates of each and every one of them. Start collecting application data for the ones your need to apply sooner and prepare the documents. A calendar will help you not to miss the application data for the grants that you are interested in. Submitting you application early on in the process can also increase your chances of getting that grant. Foundations and universities start to process the applications early on and if yours hits the spot you might be already be marked as a good candidate. Preparation pays off in these cases.
Prepare the support documentation. You will need letters of recommendation, transcripts and financial data. Don`t underestimate the time you need to prepare these documents. Getting recommended can take weeks and getting the right legal financial documentation can be a hefty process and you might need a few weeks for that too. Ask for letter of recommendation from skilled professionals who might offer an opinion that matters and ask friends and family to review your application documents for errors.