As a business owner, is there anything better than free money for your cash flow? Probably not. But free money is hard to come by. One of the only ways to get it for your business is to apply for a grant or enter into an accelerator. But unless you’re a groundbreaking tech startup, a grant is likely your best bet.
Now, you may think that getting a grant is difficult. It can be, but there are a lot of resources available to you. Here’s all you need to know about finding a small business grant in 2018.
Grants from the federal government
Many government agencies have some sort of grant program. Usually, these are highly specific to your industry.
For instance, you could be eligible for the following programs:
- Rural Business Investment Program: This program connects venture capital to entrepreneurs in rural communities. If you live in a rural area, you may be able to access a grant or loan through this program.
- Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR): This highly competitive program awards grants to small businesses engaged in scientific and technological research that has commercial purpose. Agencies like the EPA, Department of Defense, and NASA all participate in this program.
- Challenge.gov Competitions: The federal government regularly holds challenges across an array of industries, from architecture and green energy to medicine and technology. See if you can win grant money to fund your dream business.
There’s a good chance you at least one federal grant could apply to your business, as so many agencies have programs. Research various agencies that deal with your field, and see what you can find.
Grants from state and local government
Your state may offer grants for small businesses as well.
For instance, the Arkansas Technology Transfer Assistance Grant Program (TTAG) offers grants to enterprises developing and improving solutions across a range of sectors. The Texas Young Farmer Grant provides money for those just starting in the agricultural business. And the Kansas Attraction Development Grant allocates money for the development of new tourist attractions in the state.
On the local level, you may have solid options as well. So, check with your local government. For example, the City of Cleveland offers incentives for startups and expanding businesses in the area. The Chicago Small Business Improvement Fund provides money for businesses to repair and remodel facilities.
Grants from corporations
Many large corporations do their part to support entrepreneurial activity. With a good business plan and product pitch, you can get awarded free funding from WalMart, Chase, or another major company.
A few contests worth considering include:
- FedEx Small Business Grant: Sell your company’s story and solution for a chance at $25,000.
- Wells Fargo Community Investment: The bank provides qualified nonprofits and educational programs across the United States and abroad with grant money.
- LendingTree Small Business Grant Contest: This fun contest awards $50,000 to the team with the best business idea. That’s worth checking out.
From Coca-Cola to Walmart, lots of major corporations have programs in place to fund small businesses. It’s worth researching and seeing which grants you could possibly get. It doesn’t cost anything, other than your time, to apply. Who knows? Maybe you can land the money you need from your favorite clothing brand!
Grants for women, minorities, and veterans
For women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses, specific grants are made available through both public and private organizations. It’s important to search for all that may be available to you.
In general, grants.gov is a great resource to use to find grants across a range of industries as well. It’s a central storehouse for information, and can help connect women, minority, and veteran entrepreneurs to grant funding.
Small business grants for women-owned businesses
You could apply for the Amber Grant, which makes a $500 grant to one woman business owner each month. The Eileen Fisher Woman-Owned Business Grant Program provides $100,000 to 10 women-owned businesses each year. And the Halstead Grant is designed for promising women designers.
Small business grants for minority-owned businesses
The number of minority-owned businesses more than doubled from 2002 to 2012, according to the Minority Business Development Agency. A number of grant programs have been started to support the growing number of minority-owned businesses.
For instance, minorities who own a health-related small business can apply for the Community Programs to Improve Minority Health, which is offered through the Department of Health and Human Services. The First Nations Development Institute regularly awards grant money to initiatives that support Native American arts and culture. And the USDA awards grants to veteran and minority farmers.
Small business grants for veteran-owned businesses
Government agencies, nonprofits, and corporations all have grant programs for veteran entrepreneurs. There are also many discounts on loans, like fee relief on Express Loans through the SBA.
For veterans, lots of options exist. Street Shares awards veterans up to $5,000 if they have a great business idea. Veterans also get discounts on franchising, as corporations like UPS and 7-Eleven all offer incentives for veterans to open a store.
Explore all your options and get grant funding
Nothing’s better than free money. But you have to do some legwork to get it. Use this article as a resource to begin your search.
With persistence and the right pitch, you can land grant funding. And you’ll be in much better financial shape to achieve your entrepreneurial dreams.
Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. Meredith is a resident Finance Advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more.