The Introduction to Business Grant Writing Process

So, you have that million-dollar idea. Now, you just need the mechanism to make it happen – this is where most people get stuck. Apart from the back-end structures and business development plans required from a business, financing is one of the biggest issues of startups.

Fortunately, there are multiple grants that are being offered to startups – this is money that you do not have to pay back and can use to jumpstart your business.

Grants are not difficult to find – you just need to know where to look. Here are seven tips to get you started:

1. Research on the different grant types available
Grants may come from different sources or organizations. Each would have a specific goal they want to promote. For your business, find the right organization that would fit your business objectives. Do not cast a wide net and hope to reel one organization in. Plan properly and be deliberate.

2. Tailor-fit your pitches to the grant you want to apply for
Write your pitch such that it addresses the objective of the grant you are applying for. Here are some grant-giving bodies and the objectives they want to accomplish:

Governments – to enable the entrepreneur to aid in the delivery of social services to the public. This grant can also be given to promote economic activity within a region

Corporations – to support startups that are profitable and scalable; corporations are also looking for companies to invest in the long-run

Impact Investors – to back startups that have potential to better the lives of a group of people

3. Read the grant application instructions thoroughly
Before applying for a grant, read the instructions carefully and address what they need: this means writing your proposal according to the number of pages, font, submissions and even file format required.

If you do not properly follow instructions, some grant-awarding bodies may think that you are not serious about your application and will not read it.

4. Clearly articulate what you will use the grant for
Provide a detailed costing and indicate your assumptions for each piece of work you’ve detailed. It is also good to understand the grant-giving body and their objectives. Remember, there are some organizations that do not want startups to use their grant for day-to-day operations; they want the grant to be used in a special project or a specific campaign.

5. Understand the commitment required for the grant
Certain grant-giving organizations will need a comprehensive report on the business – including fund disbursements, payment milestones and specific results. Moreover, while most business grants do not require a monetary return, some can be particular when it comes to non-monetary returns; such as media mileage, impact and business scalability.

As you are writing your proposal, you will slowly find out the level of work required by the grant. Evaluate if you are willing to put on this effort and proceed only if you are certain that you can commit.

6. Make sure your financial projections are sound
Do not overpromise. Be conservative in estimating how much you will earn in the business. Indicate your rationale for making the projections and never grab a sales target out of thin air. Your basis for your projection can be industry size or market penetration rates of similar products.

It is normal for a business to lose money in the first year, provided that this loss can be properly explained and attributed to business operations.

However, the grant-giving bodies will want to see when your business will start earning. Typically, small businesses should reach a breakeven point on its second or third year, and start earning thereafter.

7. Make sure you intend to use the money for your business
Most importantly, you must gauge your desire to set up your business and make it work. Historically, there are entrepreneurs who go around asking for grants but did not put them to good use. These grants yielded no benefits for the investor and entrepreneur, and were simply for personal expenses or for funding operations without generating revenue.

Becoming an entrepreneur is no easy task – commitment and perseverance are big parts of the equation. Once you are sure that this is the path you want, dive right in – you will find that help and support are very much available.