On the hunt for free money for your small business? Government grants are one source. But funding from Uncle Sam isn't as easy to come by as you might think.
Find out who is eligible for government grants for small business and how to find and apply for grants.
A limited number of government grants are available and only to select business types. There are grants available for both non-profit and for-profit businesses.
There are far more grants available for non-profit businesses compared to for-profit businesses. Still, there are many options.
Some determining factors include:
Grants are usually offered based on the need for a specific initiative at the national, state or local level. Grants often are restricted to businesses in the medical, scientific or technological industries.
If your venture aligns with a government initiative in an eligible industry, you may be in a position to receive a government grant. However, grants aren't available for all business activities. As an example, launching a new business or paying down debt or operational expenses don't usually qualify for grant funding.
There are a variety of government grants available at the federal, state and local level. The following are the best online resources to check for government grants:
Grants.gov: This website provides a thorough database of grants and allows you to identify available federal grants. You can also confirm your eligibility and apply for the grants.
Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs: You can obtain grants from several government agencies through SBIR and STTR. The catch is their strict eligibility requirements. Research and development initiatives of bio-tech businesses that meet type and size criteria are available but putting together a winning proposal is hard work.
Economic Development Administration: This site allows you to search for grants at the state or local level. The offered grants generally have a goal of bettering the conditions of communities and individuals in specific locales.
Websites like Grants.gov allow you to apply for many grants online. The online application portal provides grant application submission instructions. As part of the process, you get an assigned number following the application submission, which will let you track your application.
Specific grant programs like SBIR and STTR have their own unique grant application processes. You should check the individual websites for these grants to assess your eligibility and apply for them.
It's important to remember that securing a grant is by no means a quick or painless process. Some grant programs, like SBIR, dole out funds to successful applicants in phases over a long period of time. In addition, only a minority of businesses will qualify for government grants. And even fewer will successfully secure a government grant.
If your business needs an injection of cash in the near-term, a business loan or line of credit is a better funding option.