10 top tips for securing a grant

A grant can be a great source of start-up funding for your business, find out how to apply for one...

A grant can be a great source of start-up funding, primarily as there is no interest to be paid and funds are generally non-returnable. However, with business grants often referred to as ‘free money’ and a number of regulations attached, they can be notoriously difficult to secure.

With small business grants available from various bodies including government, councils, charities and foundations, it is integral that you find the right grant, and the awarding agency, for you, before you start completing your application as a lot of time and effort is involved.

If you can keep the following tips for securing a grant in mind, you’ll be well equipped to tackle the process and give yourself an edge over other competing companies:

  1. Apply as soon as you can – The best time to apply for a scheme is when it first opens because this is when there will be the most money available. Competition will be less fierce and those administering the scheme will be most keen to get their grants awarded.
  2. Talk to the awarding body before you apply – By making a personal contact you will get advice on whether it’s worth applying, help on completing your application and someone to talk to as things progress.
  3. Keep yourself informed – Grants are constantly being introduced and updated and there are very few venues for finding out this information so it’s a question of keeping your eyes open as best you can.
  4. Don’t start your project before you’ve applied – If you go ahead before asking for the money the awarding body is simply going to take the view that by starting without their assistance means you really don’t need the cash in the first place.
  5. Make sure your application is in connection with a specific project – Most often grants are handed out for a specific reason, not simply to fund business growth. So if you need new equipment or more staff to launch a new product, emphasis the product not the equipment. You also need to highlight the advantages of the product’s success which could be, for example job creation.
  6. Write your application proposals with as much attention to the awarding body’s objectives as possible –Make sure you mention the benefits the project will bring particularly to the local community and environment. Again these should all fit in with the objectives of the scheme.
  7. Don’t be untruthful or bend the facts – Try and imagine all the potential implications of your project even if, at the end of the day, you simply want to increase revenue and profits.
  8. Make sure you have a strong business plan to submit along with your application – If you already have one from say when you applied for bank finance then you’ll probably need to update it.
  9. Ensure the awarding body is completely convinced- You need to assure the grant agency that there is no chance of you moving ahead with your project without the grant – not unreasonable really.
  10. And finally, ensure you have matching funds available – It is extremely rare for a grant body to finance 100% of the costs of any project. So those handing out grants for business need to be totally sure that you can put your money where your mouth is.

For more information on small business grants and raising finance, click here.

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