There are many ways of raising finance for your business, including invoice finance, alternative finance, and small business grants. Business grants allow you to fund your business without selling equity or having to repay the funds, but they do have a few pitfalls. Keep reading for our top tips on how to apply for small business grants.
Do your research
There are thousands of grants available to UK business owners. You can get a grant through the government; be sure to look for grants at the local, regional, and national level. Don’t forget to consider grants from charities and big businesses. Dedicate time to researching grants online, and sign up for a couple of websites that offer to send you a list of grants in exchange for joining their website. Take note of timing; when can you apply for the grant, how long is its application process, when can you expect to receive the money, and how does the grant’s timing fit in with the needs of your business?
Grant consultants can help you narrow down the number of grants available while helping you with the process, but you’ll need to assess whether or not contracting one is cost-effective.
Networking can help you find grants relevant to your business. Get in touch with industry leaders and support groups, your local council, and businesses like your own to see if they know of any grants you might be eligible for. You may even find people willing to help you!
Make sure you’re eligible for a small business grant
The grant application process can be labour-intensive and time-consuming. Read the eligibility requirements carefully and contact the grant programme directly to ensure you meet the basic criteria.
Bear in mind that many grants are only given for new projects, and that you may be required to match any funding shortfall yourself.
Know your business
Grants are notorious for being difficult to get; don’t despair at the number of hoops you may have to jump through. Grant programmes want to make sure that the money they are giving out will be used effectively and in a way that supports their own goals. Expect to be asked for detailed information about your business, including your:
- Business plan
- Business finances
- Experience in your industry
- Detailed plan on how you will use the grant
Ensure you have this information ready in advance of applying for grants.
Make thoughtful applications
Applying for a grant can take time, and if you apply for many the hours spent answering questions can add up quickly. Don’t be tempted to recycle your answers for each grant – it’s important to customise your application to show how you match their requirements. You may be asked to write a letter or fill out an application, attend interviews, and pitch your business. If there’s room for including supporting documentation with your application, try sending a portfolio as well as some photographs of you and the business in operation to add a personal touch to your submission. Writing in a way that is both factual and compelling will help your readers relate to your business and aspirations.
Make it easy for the grant programme to understand how you meet their requirements by answering their questions clearly and completely. Explain in detail how you’ll use the grant money and how you’ll match it (if applicable). Emphasize how your project can benefit the community and that it can’t proceed without a grant. You can improve your chances of receiving a grant if your answers are insightful and show how your project fits in with goal of the grant, so understand its purpose.
Don’t expect an immediate response once you’ve sent your application; it can take weeks and even months for a reply. Local grants and grants for smaller amounts are generally faster than national grants for large sums.
If you are requested to provide more information, respond to these requests promptly and in full. Ask questions if you need clarification rather than risk answering the question incorrectly. Grants are very competitive, so don’t jeopardise your own success.
When you’re successful
You may be required to submit progress reports and attend follow-up interviews; always prepare in advance and understand your progress thoroughly. Keep all of your receipts in case you’re asked to demonstrate how you’ve spent the money or if your grant is paid once the project is complete. Consider engaging with your grant provider through social media and public relations activities to spread awareness of your business.
If you need funding for your business quickly or would prefer to take a business loan instead of a grant, LendingCrowd offers peer-to-peer loans to small and medium-sized businesses. Click here to see if you’re eligible – it only takes 60 seconds! Interested in learning more? Contact us by phone at 0131 564 1600 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.