New Year, New Lease on Business: Government Small Business Grants in 2019
Government small business grants can just give your business the new lease on life that it needs. If you’ve been freelancing or working as an independent contractor and you feel ready to make the jump, then 2019 might just be your year. To avail government grants for starting a small business is a great opportunity. They are free and when starting your own business, nothing sounds better than free.
Steps to obtaining a grant for starting a business
Nothing in life is free, so even though you don’t have to repay grants, the cost lies in applying and qualifying for them. And it can be pretty high, as small businesses grants provide very specific parameters when it comes to spending money. Many entrepreneurs would say that obtaining a federal grant is a Holy Grail mission. This is also be cause they are difficult to qualify for and hard to find.
- Get an inside view – one of the first steps you could take is to talk to someone who's done it. It will increase your chances of getting a grant for starting a business. Every case is different, we agree. But getting insights from people who have gone through the process can really help you. It sheds light on the ins and outs of application.
- Stay on top of information – in this particular case, the Internet is your enemy. There are so many old websites, discontinued and confusing databases, misinformation at every turn. You can still make use of the world wide web, but make sure to filter everything and keep your sources reliable, such as government websites.
- Don’t apply if you don’t fit – a misstep many eager entrepreneurs make is applying to several grants in the hope they’ll get one. Different grants have different criteria for acceptance, so you have to be very specific. The industry of operation, the region you belong to, the amount of sponsor you can gather, the timeline of your business plan, they all matter.
Health, science and technology are the primary fields to take center stage when it comes to federal grants for small business this year. In very few cases, the money comes straight from the federal government, but more often than not, they determine eligibility and then pass it along to state and local.
If your looking to start your own tech business in 2019, here’s a top 3 government grants that might just be your ticket in:
- Small Business Technology Transfer Program – STTR is a great program that encompasses five federal agencies, so the budget is flexible. The grants start at $150, 000 and go up to $1 million.
- National Institute of Standards & Technology – if you’re looking at cyber security, trade or software, then the NIST is a great opportunity. The best part, you can apply for all departments and see if you qualify.
- 3D Elevation Grant – for design and tech small businesses, this grant coming from The Department of the Interior is a wonderful option.
State grants for small businesses
The great advantage of applying for a state grant when starting a business is that competition is much lower. However, there’s less funding available at state level, so your budget will be lower. When applying for such funding, you need to make sure that your business proposal and UVP are geared towards your state’s economic or social growth.
It’s hard to create a top of the best state grants available, as each state has multiple opportunities and most of them are aimed at specific industries, such as the Arizona Step Grant, which focuses on small businesses exporting products internationally. The DC Small and Local Business Grant tends to award most grants to retail businesses. Illinois offers the REM program to small businesses driven by sustainability.
The never-ending opportunities
Bring value to your community
Apart from federal and state grants, small businesses also have access to a range of local programs. These are financed by the their cities, towns and even non-profits. It’s true that funding is lower, but so is the competition. If you’re brining real value to your community, then you can also apply for and get funding from several local grants.
Don’t turn your back on corporate
While government grants are really a great way to get your business going, they’re not the only way. Corporate grants are also an opportunity to consider and they can open many doors. A few examples include the FedEx Small Business Grant, Chase Mission Main Street Grants, Visa Everywhere Initiative and Miller Lite Tap the Future.
Girl power takes the stage
2018 was a great year for recognition of women, female talent and gender equality. 2019 will be even better. Every day in the US, women start over 800 new businesses. There are 114% more female entrepreneurs today than 20 years ago. As such, there are many initiatives that focus on fixing the gender gap and promoting equality in business. Grants like the Eileen Fisher Program, Walmart Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, the Amber Grant and Open Meadows Foundation are a great starting point.