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Spend Your Time Wisely - 
Focus on What Will Meet Your Needs


Earlier in this online guide we looked at some of the best sources of information on grants and where to find them at the federal, state and local levels. There is a lot of material to wade through, and this can give a person cause for alarm, especially for first-time grant seekers. However, there are some steps you can take to narrow your focus, and thereby use the time you have available more effectively. If you have clearly defined your new proposed business and all its parameters, this will help you find grants more easily. If you know exactly what your business needs, then you won't waste time on things it does not need. Also, anytime money and being selected to receive money is a subject that is being discussed, it also unfortunately can be an area where unscrupulous individuals can take advantage of new and uninformed people. When you have the facts, then you will be able to protect yourself from falling into the trap of scams in the grant industry.


Have a Clear Picture of What Your Proposed Business Is About


At this stage of looking for grant money, you have probably drawn up a business proposal. This is one of the best, and most succinct, places that describes in writing what is your proposed business. At this point you know if it is a service business or produces a product. You know the structure that it will take--sole proprietor, for-profit corporation or non-profit corporation. Now you can use this specific information and find areas in which your proposed business will fit well.


Trade associations are one place to start. You will find more grant opportunities if you can plug your new business into several different funding sources rather than a few. You are looking now for all the subheadings under which your proposed business will fit, because that will increase the likelihood of finding a suitable grant.


For example, let's say you wanted to start a business that focuses on recycling. Your idea is that people can drop off used items, and you provide a warehouse where the items are sorted and stored, and made available to the public for sale. So now you want to think about where you are most likely to find a grant to help your new business out. You are trying to find as many different areas into which your new business would fit well. Search engine keywords such as "Recycling" and "environmental" or "ecology" are obvious hits, as would be "new business."


If your business form is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, then you would use a search engine for different foundations and see which ones give grants to grant seekers with an environmental purpose. Would you possibly have an educational purpose to your business, such as educating other businesses or schools on how to recycle and reuse supplies? You might find an educational-oriented grant to fund such an endeavor. Will you need to build a warehouse? If so, you will want to check with your city or county for building grants, especially if you can locate your new business in an economically depressed area.


Will you provide jobs for people who are typically underrepresented in the industry? Look under "women" or "minorities" or other comparable subject areas and see what is available. Are you a woman who is starting the business, or are you a military veteran? Use these keywords as search parameters, and you will find other funding opportunities. Some of the websites' entries, such as those offered at the CFDA site, also include a list of related programs, and these are other areas to check and see if they will meet your needs. It can also pay to look for grant possibilities from local foundations and non-profit organizations that are more likely to support local endeavors that meet their giving focus.


You can find more information about specific foundations and non-profits and what their focuses are by looking them up at The Foundation Center website or USA.gov for Non-profits. This is a time when you want to let your creativity out so that you will feel free to try even some remote ideas that you might come up with, because you never know what kind of grant might be available.


Have a Clear Picture of What Your Proposed Business Needs


Before you start your hunt for grants, you will want to have a clear idea of what your business needs. Your needs will be different depending on the stage that your business is in.


If your business is new, then you will likely be looking for financial assistance for meeting start-up costs. As you have gathered from information in previous chapters, typically grant money that can be used to cover start-up costs for a new for-profit corporation are less available. There are a few exceptions as mentioned earlier, such as if you are a member of an underrepresented group in a particular business field, then you may find some grants available.


If you start a business in a poor area of a city that will provide jobs to low-income individuals, then you may find that there are grants to help you. In this case there are also tax breaks which, while not officially a grant, nevertheless can give you the financial assistance you need to get your business started. You will also find free and low-cost assistance in starting a business ranging from consultations to helping you write a business plan or finding sources for financial aid from your local Economic Development Center.


There is grant money available to help you get the education you need so that you will have the required skills for running your new business. If you are a non-profit, you might find a local or state foundation or organization that focuses on what your new business provides, and you might find grant opportunities there.


If you want to expand your business, then there are grants available to help you do that. Many of these grants are lumped together as project grants, and would cover the costs for a specific business expansion project.


In order to expand your business, do you need to provide your employees with training? There are grants available to help train your employees. These types of grants often cover health and safety issues of employees performing their jobs in a safe manner to reduce the risk of injury. There are also technology grants available that can be used to train your employees in the use of new technologies, and project grants that can be used to develop new technologies to expand your business.


Again, you will likely be more successful starting to look for these types of grants at the local and state level, because they tend to award grants more locally than if you apply for a national-level grant. Of course, depending on what your business expansion entails, federal grants might be available as well, so don't rule it out.


Don't be Fooled - Scams in the Grant Industry


Whenever money is involved in an industry, you can be sure that someone will come along with a trick to try to fool someone into giving them that money. The grant industry is no exception. One of the biggest mistaken notions that many first-time small business entrepreneurs have is that there are scads of grant money available for starting a business. This, unfortunately, is not the case. As they state on their website, the Small Business Administration offers no grants whatsoever. They do offer lower-interest small-business loans and loan guarantees, which do make it easier for a new business owner to apply for and receive money that can be applied to start-up costs. Also, local cities and states often apply for grants and then use that grant money to offer low-interest loans to small business entrepreneurs. However, these types of start-up funds are loans that must be repaid.


Another factor that you should be aware of is that information on all types of grants is available for free either online or at your local public or college library. If you see an advertisement asking you to pay for grant information or for researching grants for you, you should be aware that the information is available for free elsewhere. These advertisements tend to prey on the hopes and dreams of the new entrepreneur, and the writers are hoping that you will be uninformed and will turn to them with your money.


Don't let that happen to you. This book has given you the best major sources of information on grants. Start with them. They cost nothing to use, and if you have questions about a particular grant program they also offer the name and telephone number or e-mail address of someone to contact who can expertly answer all your questions, also for free to you because it's their job to do so.


One way to detect if an online grant information broker might not be legitimate is if their URL ends in a ".com." They might be on the up and up, and they might provide a service where you pay them and they look up grants for you, but keep in mind that all this information is available for free. Another way you might ascertain that an online grant broker is not playing fairly is if they tell you that you will be automatically qualified for large sums of free money, or if they ask you to pay a large fee to attend an informational seminar. Again, they are telling you what you want to hear in order to get your money. Indeed, your small business might qualify for large grants, but you don't need to spend your money to find out this information. You can do the research for free and find out for yourself.


You need to be realistic in your expectations. It takes money, usually, to start a business, and as a rule you will not find start-up funds from grants, except in a few very limited circumstances. So look to other means of starting your business. As mentioned earlier, start very small so it might not cost hardly anything to begin your business, or do all the work yourself at the outset. If you can make your new business work on a very small scale, and begin to get customers and clients, then you can save money on start-up costs at the outset, and perhaps then be in a better position financially to expand the business. Also bear in mind that it often takes some money to make money, and most small business owners provide most of the money for starting their small businesses themselves, as well as obtaining it via small business loans.


It is true, it takes some time and research to write a business plan, and then find grants that are appropriate and finally write up grant proposals. But bear in mind that you will be receiving money that you don't have to pay back at the end of this process if you are successful, so there will be some hurdles to jump. Hopefully you have found that this small book has offered several ways to narrow your focus so you can use your limited time wisely, and find grants that will meet your needs for various purposes.


Now that you have learned how to avoid the scams and have scoured all the information and found some grants for which you wish to apply, let's next learn how to write a grant application.

How To Write A Grant Application
How To Write Business Proposal, Summary, Grant Justification, Project description, Budge, Qualification Proof, Outsourcing
 
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Grant Money Articles

A Business Plan Will Help You
Get A Grant

Federal Grants for Small Business
An Introduction To Local Grants
An Introduction To State Grants
Federal Grants Cans &  Cannots
Research Before Grant Applications
Starting your business cheap
The First Step In Getting A Grant
What You Can Use A
Local Grant For

Where To Find Grants











 


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