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Research Before Grant Applications

You need to do research before applying for a grant.

If you are going to start a business, you want to be reasonably sure that you will be successful with it before you put a lot of money into it.

One way to do that is to research the type of business you would like to start. Whatever the particular industry is, whether a service-type industry or a product you'd like to manufacture and sell, you will want to take a look at industry trends. Is this industry growing or declining, both nationally and locally?

You will also want to take a look at every aspect of how this business will operate--how will a product be produced, focusing on all the exact steps. What is the process for providing a particular service?

This will give you an idea of the amount of time needed to produce a product or perform a service, and how quickly you can do both of those things while still maintaining quality will determine how much business you can handle and how much money you can make. It will also tell you if this is a business you can do on your own or one for which you will need to hire employees.

Now is a great time to take a closer look at the market for your business. Who would want to buy your product or service? What product or service is it that those customers want to buy but currently cannot find available? Is there anyone else who sells such a product or service?

Where can you find the answers to these questions? There are many sources available, and many are low-cost or free. The Internet can be a great jumping-off point for information, as can any trade associations for the type of business you might want to start. Another free online resource is Score, standing for Service Corps of Retired Executives

They have online volunteers with experience in the business you would like to start, and you may e-mail them questions about your small business at no charge (Score, 1998).

If you are fortunate enough to find someone who has experience with the business you want to start, see if that person would mentor you, perhaps in exchange for a product or service you could provide that person. Your local library is another great free source of information about business and internet business statistics (Washington State University-Small Business Development Center, 2005).

When you have some answers to the above questions and are starting to get a clearer idea of your new business, you will next want to consider what it will cost to start this new business. Now is the time to think about both what it will cost to start and then operate the business. What about advertising costs--how will new customers hear about your business?

Business taxes are also part of the cost, and you can get information from the Internal Revenue Service, your state Department of Revenue, or a certified public accountant. Will you need a license or permit to conduct your business?

You can check with your state, county and city Departments of Licensing. You might need to include insurance and worker's compensation as part of your business cost, and your state Department of Labor and Industry can assist you with this (Washington State University-Small Business Development Center, 2005).

Make sure that you do your research and you will be much more prepared when applying for grants.

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