More than 1 in 4 businesses lacks the funding that they need to stay afloat. Receiving a grant for your small business can be the deciding factor that keeps your business alive, and even helps your business grow and thrive. Grant applications are competitive, however, so it’s important to prepare the best application you can.
In this post, you’ll find four tips for making sure your grant application stands out from the rest. If you’re looking for grants to apply to, check out Skip Plus to receive curated grant opportunities twice a week.
Six Tips to Strengthen Your Grant Application
1) Check Eligibility Requirements
Not every business owner is eligible for every grant. Many grants are designed with certain communities in mind, such as business owners from one city, business owners of color, veterans, or female business owners. Grants for women and people of color are particularly common, as well as for innovative, start-up style businesses.
There are thousands of grants available in the U.S. ranging from hundreds to thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars, however, so there's likely funding available that you qualify for. You'll just need to double check the requirements of specific grants before applying. To make things easier for small business owners, our Skip Plus subscription includes access to curated grant and loan opportunities for a variety of groups, with clear descriptions in our twice-weekly updates so you'll know whether you are eligible for a grant before you take the time to apply.
2) Follow Directions Carefully
Grants vary in amount, eligibility, and length of the application process. However, most grant applications have very clear guidelines for your application, including minimum and maximum word count for your description of your business, contact information to include, and other requirements like a video submission, photos, or even recommendation letters.
The Fedex Small Business Grant contest, for example, which is one of the largest annual funding opportunities available for small businesses, requires applicants to submit a video about themselves to be shared on the Fedex website in order to be considered.
Make sure that you read over requirements carefully and include everything requested. Fill out all forms completely and accurately; even one missing field on a form could lessen your chances of getting funded.
3) Look at Winning Applications from the Past
Monthly or annual small business grant funders will often share information about past winners on their website. Looking over these businesses will often help you understand what funders are looking for.
The Amber Grant for Women, a monthly, $10,000 grant opportunity for female business owners, has a profile of all their past winners on their website which describes their business model, what set their application apart, and advice for future applicants. Winning Amber Grant recipients are active in many industries, but all had a clear plan for how to utilize their $10,000.
4) Include as Many Details As Possible
The more clear, detailed information in your application the better. Funders want to see numbers: measures like annual revenue, tax records, credit score, number of employees, and business expenses can all be helpful in strengthening your application.
Gather your financial records before beginning the application process, so you will have everything you need. Providing numbers and other details proves your business’ legitimacy to funders, who want to be sure they are funding real, growth-oriented business owners.
5) Include A Business Plan
How will you use the funds if you are given a grant? You may need a concrete answer to this question to receive funding for your small business. Funders like the Amber Grant, which are designed to help businesses grow, are interested in choosing recipients with an organized approach to using the funds.
Grant funders choose applicants who have a plan for how they will use the funds, whether that’s hiring new employees, developing new products or purchasing equipment. A proposed budget is even better: for example, if you’re applying for a $20,000 grant, breaking down how you will use all $20,000 into categories will impress funders and show that you’ve done your research.
6) Submit Your Application On Time
Unfortunately, grant application deadlines are rarely extended, and applications submitted after the deadline, even by an hour or two, are often thrown out. Make sure that you check the deadline and submit on time, or even early, to be sure that your grant application is considered.
Some grant application processes are "rolling", meaning that applications are considered as they are submitted. For these grants, applying early gives you a much better chance of being funded. These grants are usually capped at a certain amount of funding, and once the money is exhausted no more applications are accepted. If you're not sure if a grant has rolling applications or not, you should apply early just to be sure.
Conclusion: Prepare Grant Applications Carefully to Get Funding
Preparation and careful research goes a long way to getting your small business funded. If you’re still looking for funding, you can stay on top of all the grant and funding programs with Skip Plus. You’ll get access to curated grant and funding opportunities twice weekly, plus a running database of funding options, exclusive videos, and articles just for Plus members. We even have partner grant and loan funders you can access as a Skip Plus member.
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