Who doesn't like free money? These are small business grants, right?
This can help you pay salaries, buy stock, or reach new customers.
While scholarships are "free" in the sense that you don't have to pay for them, they are not handouts.
You can't just go to a website and ask for “small business grant please” and expect to get it.
You have to apply for a scholarship, which may take some work and effort. Then compete with other small businesses that also want the lease. It is common for even small scholarships to receive hundreds of applicants. However, a list of small business grants is a good place to start.
I have compiled a list of 23 Small Business Scholarships, but before you get there, there are 3 things you should understand:
- Almost all grants are for existing businesses – if you haven't started your business yet, it's almost impossible to get a grant. Instead, look for a loan.
- Donations are given to "interesting" businesses - a standard cafe will have a hard time getting a donation. Most are awarded to innovative or social contribution companies.
- Scholarships are not awarded immediately – most scholarships only accept applications once a year, and the winner is not announced until later. Scholarships are not a short-term funding solution.
If all that makes sense, let's move on to small business grants. Almost all of these scholarships are aimed at companies in the United States.
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Where to find small business grants
I did as much research as I could to find these scholarships online, but be aware that many are not easy to find online.
If you contact trade associations or community development centers, they may be able to help you find grants your business may qualify for.
Good checkpoints are:
Government sources for small business grants
There are many government grants, both from the federal and local government.
- Grants.gov: The first place all small businesses should look is to look for a federal grant. It's a database of thousands of grants with powerful filters to help you quickly narrow down the results to those with a good chance of winning.
- Small Business Management Scholarships (SBA).: The SBA primarily supports small businesses in their quest for conventional means of financing, such as loans. But they also have some funding programs specifically aimed at research or export companies.
Here are the top government-sponsored grants:
- Small Business Innovation Survey (SBIR): The SBIR is a longstanding funding program for research enterprises with commercialization potential. They award grants through 12 major federal agencies:
- Minister of Agriculture
- National Institute of Standards and Technology
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Department of Defense
- Education Minister
- power authority
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Homeland Security
- ministry of transport
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
- National Science Foundation
- Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR): The STTR program is similar to the SBIR program. It also focuses on companies involved in a research program but is only available to those based in a formal research institution. It is also more restrictive by industry, with only five federal agencies currently granting STTR grants:
- Department of Defense
- power authority
- Department of Health and Human Services
- National Science Foundation.
- State Commercial Expansion Program (STEP): This program grants subsidies to small export companies. There is not much information available online about this scholarship, so you will need to contact the SBAs.International Trade Officeto see your eligibility.
- SAM.gov (Federal Domestic Assistance ehemals catalog): This is another great federal database with a modern redesign. While there is some overlap with Grants.gov, you'll find some unique tips worth checking out. You can use the advanced search filters to show only grant recipients, or you can show other funding sources such as loans.
- Challenge.gov: This is not technically a site that offers a scholarship program, but the program offers significant cash prizes for solving challenges faced by various industries. Many of these challenges are technology driven, but there are also non-technical challenges. If you're doing something innovative, monitor Challenge.gov for relevant challenges that could be easy wins for your small business.
- USDA grants: If you have an agricultural or food service business, you may have a good chance of getting a USDA grant. They have these seven funding programs:
- Concessões do Community Connect
- Distance learning and telemedicine scholarships
- Subsidies for rural business development
- Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency
- Loans and grants for home repairs
- Subsidy for socially disadvantaged groups
- Subsidies for Added Value Producers
Some USDA grants focus on small rural businesses, but not all. Check the admission requirements for each program you are interested in to see if you qualify.
- Stipendien des National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).: this is where NIST lists its grants. They are aimed at small companies in the fields of science or technology. Currently active grants can be found here or at Grants.gov.
- Subsidies from the Ministry of Education: The Secretariat of Education maintains an active list of several scholarships that it offers to small businesses in the field of education. The award ceiling for many grants is millions of dollars. Therefore, if you run an education-based business, you must actively monitor these exchanges.
- EPA grants: The EPA offers dozens of grants to small businesses trying to improve the environment, especially in innovative ways. There are grants that target air quality, environmental quality, water quality, pollution prevention, and much more.
- Economic Development Administration (EDA): EDA provides grants to small businesses to improve community infrastructure. The only problem is that there is no easy-to-monitor grant directory. You should check this page frequently for new listings. You can see if your business is relevant by reviewing past opportunitiesthis page.
subsidies for companies
One of the best sources of small business grants is businesses that want to give back to the community. You may face less competition as grants are not listed on popular sites like Grants.gov.
- FedEx Small Business Grant: Last year, this business support program received 18,000 applications, with a total of 10 winners. That gives you a 1 in 780 chance of winning, or 0.13%.
You can dismiss a large proportion of applications as there are always irrelevant or unreliable applications, but the numbers give a realistic sense of how difficult it can be to get scholarships unless you are doing something really special. This doesn't mean you shouldn't try to get scholarships, but be realistic.
The three grand prizeswinnerContestants in this contest received US$50,000 and US$4,000 in FedEx printing services, respectively, while the top six winners received US$20,000 and US$1,500 in FedEx printing services.
To enter, you must present your elevator pitch, including how your company is making a difference to your community or environment. And, of course, you have to prove that the prize money is really necessary.
- Leihbaum: Lending Tree primarily offers various types of loans, but also regularly holds small business grant contests. They judge companies on the passion of the founders and whether their business growth positively impacts the community.
- National Association of Self-Employed Workers (NASE): If you are self-employed, you may be eligible for the monthly stipend of $4,000 provided by NASE. There aren't many requirements to meet other than being a NASE member.
- Idea Cafe Small Business Grants: Idea Cafe is a news and resource site for small business owners. They're offering $1,000 to recipients, and it's one of the few donations that doesn't even require you to have started your business to participate. Winners will be determined by community votes.
- Walmart Foundation Donations: Walmart offers grants specifically for non-profit organizations. Grants are not a lump sum, but fall into two categories.
The Community Grant Program is for local non-profit organizations and costs between $250 and $5,000.
The National Giving Program is for national nonprofit organizations and awards grants of $250,000 or more.
Donations are awarded to non-profit organizations focused on opportunity, sustainability or communities. Basically all socially oriented companies.
- Grants from Donations to the Wells Fargo Community: These grants, offered by Wells Fargo, are specifically designed for educational institutions and non-profit organizations. Companies can apply throughout the year and there is no fixed amount for the award. Wells Fargo awards millions in grants each year.
Corporate Scholarships for Women
In addition to all the grants we've looked at so far, there are several grants and resources specific to women-owned small businesses.
I encourage you to visit your localbusiness centers for womenif possible - there are over 100 in the United States. They can point you to additional funding opportunities or help you find alternative funding methods.
- The Bernstein Scholarships: Each month, a small, woman-owned business wins a $10,000 Amber Grant. You need to get votes to win, so having a strong social network helps. At the end of the year, the 12 recipients have a chance to win the annual $25,000.
- Die InnovateHer-Challenge: This is a subsidy for women entrepreneurs, funded annually by the SBA. There are 3 winners, with first place receiving $40,000, second receiving $20,000 and third receiving $10,000. It's a pretty prestigious grant that also comes with a lot of publicity for the recipients' businesses.
To qualify, you must first win a local InnovateHer challenge to qualify for the national competition.
Any type of business is eligible, but those that cater to women and their social issues tend to perform better.
- Cartier Women's Initiative Award: These bags areprestigious awardsThis can make a big difference for any small business. There are 21 finalists (three from each of the top seven world regions), all of whom will receive personalized mentorship, training, networking opportunities and media exposure. That alone is worth a lot of money.
In addition, all 21 finalists will receive a scholarship. The top 7 will receive a $100,000 stipend and personalized business mentoring. The other 14 still receive a $30,000 stipend.
Business Grants for Veterans
Many veterans enter entrepreneurship after service. unfortunately there are manyLoans Specifically for Veterans, there are very few scholarships.
It is best to visit oneVeterans Business Outreach Center, where they can direct you to local grants you may be eligible for. Each center also provides training and access to other small business resources for veterans.
- The second base of service: The Second Service Foundation is the only trusted online source for veterans scholarships. They offer grants and loans to small businesses run by veterans or their spouses.
Donations are awarded to companies each month based on how much social impact they have and how strong they are.business ideaAND.
Corporate grants for minorities
There are many commercial loans for minorities, but just like for veterans, grants are few.
- Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA): The MBDA offers very limited scholarships for all types of American minorities. Scholarships are awarded only to those interested in operating one of MBDA's Minority Business Centers and only in specific locations where they wish to expand. You need to provide advisory services and help them secure funding and investments, and you need to show that you have experience doing this - so not many people qualify.
In addition to these scholarships, the MBDA also occasionally organizes other scholarship competitions. You needmonitor your messagesto find these opportunities in the future, but there are no set timelines or guidelines for eligibility.
- Stipendien des First Nations Development Institute: Monitor this page and subscribe to their email list for new grant options for Native American small business owners. From 1993 to mid-2022, this organization has awarded more than 2,702 grants totaling $54.7 million. There are no restrictions on the types of businesses eligible for grants as long as the owner is a Native American.
There are some grants you may be eligible for that do not fall into any of the above categories.
- 100,000 stars in the United StatesInnovation Fund: These scholarships are specifically designed for higher education institutions. While your small business cannot apply directly, you can work with an institution if you provide student services. They get funding and they get value from your product or service.
How to Apply and Win Business Scholarships
As I mentioned earlier, there can be a lot of competition for scholarships. There are often hundreds of small businesses applying for a single grant.
In this section, I'll cover the main things you can do to improve your chances of getting scholarships.
Dos and Don'ts When Winning Business Scholarships
Let's start with some basic behaviors when trying to win scholarships.
- Make a schedule - some scholarships can only be applied once a year. Allow enough time to prepare an application well in advance of the due date.
- Write a business plan first - most grants require one. More importantly, you know exactly how the grant money will help your business. Here's ourInstructions for writing a simple business plan.
- See which companies have received grants in the past - this can help you determine which grants are best for you to win. If they funded similar types of businesses, that's a good sign.
- Get help from community business organizations - I've been through many types of organizations that provide support to small business owners. This includes supporting you in your search for funding and presenting your business in the best possible light.
- Consider Professional Help – If you are faced with a grant that requires a well-written cover letter or essay, consider hiring a professional grant writer if you can afford it. It's usually only worth it for large donations.
- Wait until the last minute - many scholarships require you to become a member of an organization or obtain a certification or license. You may not have time to complete the eligibility requirements if you wait too long.
- Use one template for all grant applications - each application must be tailored for the specific grant. Otherwise, you'll add a lot of extraneous information and skip important answers that were needed.
- Apply for any grant – There are a number of grants that your company has virtually no chance of winning. It's better to spend more time on the most relevant ones than to spread out and have lower quality apps for multiple exchanges.
Quick tips for more concessions
There are many simple things you can do to improve your chances of getting a scholarship. Most are easy to understand, but you need to make sure you keep them in mind.
Learn all about other useful ways to fund your business with ourSmall business finance guide.
How to get more grants:
- Always look for new funding opportunities. Setting up a Google Alert is a good idea.
- Make sure the time spent on the app is really worth the premium.
- Read the specific individual application instructions for each scholarship. Some are similar, but few are exactly the same.
- Before spending too much time on an application, double check that you are eligible.
- Provide exact figures on how the grant will be used and how it will help.
- Check your spelling and grammar.
- If possible, submit your application early – you may appear better prepared than those who apply late.
- Back up claims with credible citations.
- Be realistic when reporting your company's costs and revenues.
- Find a book in your library on grant writing if you want to write better proposals.
At this point, you probably have a few questions in mind. I hope I can delete them here.
How do you qualify for a Small Business Grant?
Each individual award indicates which companies are eligible to win it. Anyone can apply, but if you don't meet the criteria, you don't have a chance to receive. Of the grants listed on this page, almost any small business can apply for both government and corporate grant areas.
As mentioned above, as a woman, you also have a number of scholarship opportunities.
Most of the remaining grants I've listed here are for a specific type of business, so you'll need to review them individually and see if your small business is eligible.
Do you have to pay small business grants?
NO! This makes them concessions. Unlike loans, grants do not need to be repaid and can be used for virtually any business purpose.
Some grants require you to report how the grants were used and how they helped, but this is usually to get more publicity or to try to help you further.
How many scholarships can I apply for?
There is rarely a limit to the number of grants you can apply for. However, you can only apply once per company for each grant. Sometimes a program offers several scholarships per year. Most of them allow businesses to submit requests multiple times, but some don't. Check the promotion details to find out.
What kind of credit do you need to get a scholarship?
Credit is rarely a factor in determining a scholarship winner. However, you will likely need a decent credit score to get your business up and running even before applying for most scholarships.
Also, most grants require your small business to be in good financial standing, which means you don't have unreasonable debt that you can't realistically pay off.
How much money can I get?
This varies greatly depending on the bag. One company might win a $500 prize, while another might win $500,000. You should consider the value of each grant when deciding which one to apply for.
Don't miss the opportunity!
There are many small business grants out there if you are willing to work for them.
If you want to earn them, you must take it seriously and beat the competition. Don't be afraid to apply for smaller scholarships, as they often have less competition than high honor scholarships.
I strongly encourage you to also visit local small business associations and explore other avenues.finance small businessesif you need money urgently.
If you still have questions about scholarships, leave a comment and I'll try to answer them.
Don't forget to start your business
Once you decide to start a new business, the next most important step is officially starting your business. Most small businesses are formed as LLCs (limited liability companies).
This keeps all of your assets separate from the business, limiting your personal liability while still giving you the tax benefits of passing as a sole proprietorship.
The process of starting your business can be very simple. Incfile can do it all for you for $0 - all you pay is government fees.Do it now!