"Is there really free money for my small business?" That is a question many women entrepreneurs ask themselves when starting their businesses and when they need capital to expand or revamp their growing companies.
Are you a female entrepreneur that is in the need of a small business loan or business grant? Are you in need of free money to begin a business but don’t know where to start? If these questions have crossed your mind of late don’t worry because there IS hope for your business. It comes in the form of grants, scholarships and loans. None of which is necessarily easy to obtain and yet, they are not impossible either. The biggest challenge is where to find them? And how to go about getting them once you do?
These grants, loans and scholarships come in many forms. From private investors, to banks to corporations, to associations, to banks and event governments. For instance, if you live in the United States, the government designates several million dollars in government grant money to assist small and personal businesses to flourish. And the sad news is that literally millions of dollars are left unclaimed (unapplied for) each and every year due to a lack of knowledge of these government grant programs.
By now you are probably asking yourself, “How can I receive more information about small business grants?” Finding and identifying sources for grants, loans and scholarships requires time, effort, and research.
Getting grants is not easy, it takes work – sometimes hours of research and then there’s the application process, which is daunting to most small business owners. And I don’t care what the advertisements say when they tell that you can get "free money" just by writing a letter. That is simply not true. Especially when it comes to grants. There is a lot of competition for funding. You have to be able to write a good proposal that clearly states your objectives and includes all the criteria the grant fund requests including what you are going to do with the money.
The main reason you might want a grant is because you don’t have pay back the money you receive. Once you determine if you qualify for a specific grant, you must be prepared to work for it or hire a grant writing professional to assist you.
If you want to learn to write a grant proposal yourself I suggest you check out your local Community Foundation or similar philanthropic training organization. These organizations are the first place I look to for workshops on grant writing. They are generally affordable and given by experts who have been doing the work for years.
If the do-it-yourself route is the route for you, here are a few resources help you in your grant and proposal writing:
Sample Grant Proposal #1 courtesy of the American Philanthropy http://web.archive.org/web/20010216073923/http:/www.charitychannel.com/GuestShare/Wendy_Norris/
Sample Grant Proposal #2 http://web.archive.org/web/20001218024300/http:/charitychannel.com/GuestShare/Tim_Puffer/
Sample Business Plans and Checklists can be found at eBizTechNet.com http://www.ebiztechnet.com/cgi-bin/links/links.pl?passurl=/Business/Small_Business/Resources/Business_Plans_and_Checklists/ (you must register to access the pages)
Jump Up – The Place to Start a business - Want to calculate start-up costs, cash flow, and break-even? You will find calculators and links to templates and sample plans at: http://jumpup.intuit.com/tools/planning/tools_services
Check out this Interactive Business Planner (a free service that uses the Internet to assist entrepreneurs in preparing a 3-year business plan for their new or existing business. It’s located here: http://www.canadabusiness.ca/ibp/home_en.cfm
In addition to all the business grants and loans available to small business owners, there are several organizations, associations and corporations that provide scholarships to help you expand your mind and your business.
As with grants, loans require a significant application process generally beginning with a business plan, budget and other important documentation.
The challenge is where to start? If you are a member of one of these associations and organizations or know of some in your area you can contact them to find out what scholarships they have available to women. In my experience these types of local scholarships get very few applicants making your chances of getting one (provided you qualify) quite good.
In addition to the two listed below, be sure to check out the list of 100 Grants, Loans and Scholarships recently published in WE Magazine for Women blog at http://wemagazineforwomen.com/100-grants-loans-scholarships-for-women/
There is even a list of Angel Investors and a Directory of where to find more Angels.
Wishing you much success in your search for money,
Heidi Richards, Founder & CEO – The WECAI Network™ - “Helping Women Do MORE Business on and off the WEB™”