|Photography by Leonard Ini
All businesses need money, more so small businesses. A small business owner may need capital to invest in new assets. He may need money to pay the security amount while filing for tenders. Likewise, small business financing may be required for various other things, such as investing in office interiors or paying the taxes and salaries or to buy new equipment for extending the business operations. Lack of funds, many a times, makes it almost impossible for small businesses to grow. To make up for this lack of funds, the government, from time to time, provides various grants for small business expansion.
Grants for Small Business Expansion : How to Find
Grants and loan for small business expansion are two completely different things. While loan amounts need to be paid back with some interest to the lender, grant money for small business expansion, does not need to be repaid.
In order to find grants for small business owners, you need to look at the CFDA i.e. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. This contains thousands of options for getting government grants. There are various categories of grants, for example, there are grants for women starting a small business, then there are grants for minority businesses and some meant only for rural businesses. You will need to look for the government grant that you are eligible for and which suits your business purpose.
Some agencies may provide grants only for specific purposes such as providing training for your employees or for giving out tax exemptions or for buying business equipment, so if any of such grants suits your business goal, you may apply for these too. The business newspapers and magazines usually offer details of any new grants that the government might come up with for small business, so keeping a track of these will help you to find new small business opportunities vis a vis grants.
Another place to look for small business start up grants is your local Small Business Association (SBA) office. They provide the right guidance to small business owners with regards to what businesses to set up and how to get grants for starting a small business. Sometimes, they themselves may provide financial assistance to businesses.
Grants for Small Business Expansion : How to Apply
Once you have met the eligibility criteria and found a suitable government grant that suits your business purpose, the next step is to apply for the same by filling an application form. You may hire the services of a professional to fill the application form accurately as the content and the information in the application form will finally determine whether you get the grant approval or not. If however, you are filling the application form yourself, make sure that you submit a complete application form as an incomplete one will give a very bad impression. Meeting the small business grant officer personally and knowing about their criteria for grant approval will help you fill the application form in a better way.
The business plan that you submit should specifically bring forth your understanding of the business you are in. In the business plan, mention how expanding your business will help not only your employees but the society in general. Also, stay in touch with the grant officer by making contact with him from time to time, to improve your prospects of an early approval.
If you look at the current scenario with regards to the grants for small business expansion, the federal government actually offers no direct grants. There are however, some programs by the government, through which grants for research and development activities that a small business might carry out are provided by the SBA. Then there are indirect grants in the form of small business loan guarantees as well as subsidized loans, wherein you get loans at reduced rate of interest from the bank as the government pays some part of your loan. Or if you default on your loan payment, the government pays the bank on your behalf. As you can see, there are opportunities galore for small business funding and grants, you just have to make an effort to find the one that is most suitable for your business goals. All the best!
By Aastha Dogra