Small business grants: Where to find them and how to apply
Posted: Thu 11th Mar 2021
Funding is a challenge for many small businesses. But despite the pandemic, there are still lots of business grant schemes taking applications.
Unlike with loans, you don't need to pay back grants, so they can be an attractive option, particularly for small firms. However, applying for them can sometimes be complicated.
Here are some tips for finding small business grants and how to submit a successful application.
Do your research
There are lots of grants available if you know where to look. The UK government has a useful searchable database and there are similar government services for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
There's another list of grants here and there are also grant finding services like Grants Online but you need to pay for full access.
Many local councils offer grants to businesses in their local area but they may not be well publicised so look on the business sections of their websites. In England, you can also look on the websites for your local Growth Hub.
Some award schemes provide funding to winners. There's a list here of awards to enter.
Asking fellow business owners in your local area is another way to find out about business funding schemes. Many are more than willing to share details with other founders. Enterprise Nation's local online meet-ups are a good way to meet other business owners.
Understand the conditions for applying
When applying for a grant, it's really important to understand the criteria. Some schemes pay you the grant in full. Some are match-funded, which means you or a partner have to match a proportion of the money. Some are combined with loans.
There are also schemes that grant you funding to spend on something specific, such as help from a business consultant.
Make sure you read every question in the application carefully. Answer questions concisely and in exactly the way the scheme wants. If there's a word limit, stick to it.
One of the most important questions is why you want the grant and what you'll spend it on. So, think carefully about what you want to say. You might need to provide a cash-flow forecast, profit and loss report and a budget for the project.
Take note of any extra information that the awarding body is requesting, such as a business plan and or other details about your company. Equally, don't provide lots of information that isn't asked for.
Get help from an expert
There are various experts who can help you find a grant and put your application together. For a small grant, you can probably do the application yourself but if you're applying for a large amount of money, a specialist could be useful.
You can find finance experts on Enterprise Nation to help you with grants. If you're a member, you can book a free taster session.
Learn from rejected applications
If your grant application is rejected, don't be disheartened, but take away the lessons you've learned.
If the scheme offers feedback on your application, be sure to take it and apply what they say for your next go at a grant.
Many schemes ask for similar information, so keep hold of everything you submitted so you can use it again.
Government grants for small business
There are hundreds of government business grants available. However, getting one can sometimes be challenging, with quite complex application processes, so take your time in choosing one.
Most government grants are intended for people who want to launch a start-up or new business, and less for people who have businesses already.
To find a list of current government grants, visit the finance support page on GOV.UK.
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