Is your small business running low on cash? Are you digging deeper and deeper into your bank account for money you know you won’t find? Stop digging and start looking where you’ll actually find some money: the government.
Begin by focusing on the nation’s largest provider of financial assistance for small businesses: the United Stated federal government. There are billions of dollars set aside in grants for small businesses, and there will be more than 1 million people to receive them. Why not you?
The idea of spending hours hunched over documents and sifting through grants sounds tedious, yes. But don’t be so easily discouraged; living in the 21st century has its perks. Today’s small business owners have the advantage of technology’s shortcuts.
Begin your search by referring to the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. The CFDA is a list of the current year’s thousands of grants from all federal government agencies. Remember, the grants found in the CFDA are not just for small businesses; there is financial assistance for everything from postsecondary education to nuclear safety training.
Start with the functional index to avoid hours of aimless wandering. There is a section specifically for small businesses. There is also a subject index where you can look up even more specific grants such as for manufacturing. Mark anything that might be relevant to your business and then look up the information about it, such as the eligibility requirements, application process, the amount of money, and the time length of the grant. In the profiles of each grant you will find a Related Programs box that indicates other grants in the CFDA that are similar to the one you are looking at. For example, a manufacturing grant may lead you to an economic development grant, a small business expansion grant, or an energy saving grant.
Another helpful tool for exploring government resources is Grants.gov. This Web site helps grant seekers by allowing them to set up an account where they can search, apply, and track their grant applications. Grant.gov even sends alert e-mail with any updates on new or expired grants. The search tool on this Web site is especially helpful. You can search by keyword, category, agency, close date, and CFDA number. A similar search tool at Business.gov looks for loans and other alternative financing opportunities as well as grants.
Your small business can also find financial assistance from your state government. For example, Pennsylvania just opened a small business energy efficiency grant, which provides a 25 percent match, up to $25,000, for equipment or programs that notably improve a company’s energy efficiency. Louisiana offers grants of up to $30,000 for established small businesses that make use of imported materials.
It is likely your state has information about grants online. Tennessee, for example, has an entire Web site created by a senator that is devoted to helping citizens access services offered by the government. Specifically this Web site has a resource page with a wealth of links devoted to helping citizens search and apply for state and federal government grants. To find your state’s grant resources, search the Internet with keywords that include your state’s name and “grants for small businesses.”