Small Business Center
By Gerri Detweiler, Nav
Small business grants are perhaps the most coveted of all types of small business funding. Grants don’t have to be repaid and, unlike equity funding, you don’t give up any ownership of your company. The IRS does want its share, though, so be prepared for a tax bill. How do you actually win a business grant or at least increase your odds of getting one? Here, four entrepreneurs who collectively won a variety of small business grants share their top tips for getting a grant.
Grant Winner: Chris Ronzio, CEO and founder of Trainual, which provides online training manuals and standard operating procedures for growing businesses
Grant Won: $150,000 from the Arizona Innovation Challenge
Grant Used For: Trainual grew its marketing team from one person to five people, increased monthly ad spend from $30,000 to $100,000 per month and invested in sponsoring events and podcasts to drive more traffic to its website and fuel growth.
Preparing for a grant is like preparing for an investor pitch, likely even harder because grant providers don’t have a stake in your business as the downside protection for the investment.
Land your first paying customers before applying. Judges want to see traction, and nothing proves your idea is great like revenue.
Build your story. A compelling investment has a story that people can rally behind. This story will be important for the grant judges, but even more so, it will give them confidence that you can recruit employees or raise investment as your business grows.
Understand the metrics of your business inside and out. When you compete for a grant, the committee will want to see how you’ll use the money to evaluate impact. If you don’t know your numbers, you can’t share explicitly how the money coming in will impact the money coming out, and that could put you at a serious disadvantage.
Grant Winner: Romy Taormina, founder and CEO of Psi Health Solutions, the maker of Psi Bands, a clinically proven, patented medical device for the relief of nausea sold internationally.
Grants Won: $15,000 from Huggies MomInspired Grant Program and two $3,000 State Trade and Export Promotion grants from the Small Business Administration
Grants Used For: The Huggies grant allowed her to move out of her home office, and the STEP grants allowed her to offset the cost of attending international trade shows.
Put yourself out there. You have to apply — make the ask— to be considered. If you don’t ask, the answer is already no.
Be articulate, specific and concise in the grant request. Use proper grammar and spelling, and pay attention to formatting.
Follow directions. This seems like such a basic tip, and yet people do not follow directions. If it asks for x, provide x. Don’t give y and z. Example: If word count is a criterion, stick to the word count. Don’t eliminate yourself from the pool because you didn’t follow directions.
Grant Winner: Brady Granier, president and CEO of BioCorRx, which has developed an addition solution that combines proprietary behavioral therapy and a sustained-release naltrexone abdominal pellet to help those struggling with alcohol and opioid use disorders.
Grant Won: Nearly $5.7 million from the National Institute on Drug Abuse
Grant Used For: Development and FDA-approval process of the naltrexone implant BICX102 for opioid use disorder
Do your research. See what options are out there to broaden your reach, and choose the grants that are best for your needs. There is a ton of information online on government websites like grants.gov.
Be thorough and patient in your application, and hire an experienced grant writer! Ours helped us win our first grant on the first try.
Be reasonable in the amount you are asking for. The providers may choose to award you more in the future but may deny you now if you ask for more than they feel they want to give.
Grant Winners: Jaron and Maggie Clayton, founders of Running Dogs Brewery and community events space.
Grant Won: $10,000 Nav’s Small Business Grant
Grant Used For: Expansion to accommodate more guests and events.
Jaron: Take the time to find grants, and don’t miss the opportunity to apply. The one you passed up may just have given you the extra funds you needed. We almost passed up on the opportunity to apply for the Nav grant because of how busy we were. We found it with only a few days left to apply.
Maggie: Don’t worry too much that the grant is a perfect fit. Nobody who had a brick-and-mortar business had won the Nav, and we weren’t sure if it applied to our business. A St. Helens Economic Development Corp. grant, for which we were a finalist but which we didn’t win, was more for startups, and we still applied. My advice would be: Don’t let those guidelines restrain you from applying. You just never know.
Jaron and Maggie: Don’t just focus on one grant at a time. We’re reaching out to economic development groups and searching online for other grants.
This article originally appeared on www.nav.com.