Getting a Government Grant
Getting a government grant can be a great way to kick-start your business. Unfortunately the process of applying for a government grant can be an arduous affair.
Before you consider applying for a government grant you need to consider a few things:
Where do you find these grants?
If you've answered in the affirmative to these questions - then the next port of call is to go to the right places that offer grants for your business. Remember grants are available to old and new businesses alike so it's worth keeping an eye out for government grants - your business may have changed or the government may add new grants for businesses like yours.
Government websites usually have some kind of grant finder tool which will allow a company to search through available grants, usually organised according to industry sectors.
Industry associations usually provide information about available grants for your specific market sector.
Grant consultant experts make it their business to know what grants are available to specific businesses - they will obviosuly make their money in imparting their knowledge on you.
It is unlikely you can afford professional help, unless you receive it for free, or use some of the grant money to pay the professional with...a bit like the no win no fee lawyers. Obviously large government grants can really assist your business and can run into the thousands - they are not to be sneezed at.
If you do use a consultant grant expert then it is imperative that you don't just leave it to them - remember they are after their commission - they don't truly care about your business - their business is getting you a grant and taking their cut...so it's vital you have somebody who is monitoring the situation. Another point to remember is you may try for more grants in the future or at the same time - so if you can learn the process yourself you can save time for future grant applications by doing it yourself...as well as preventing your business from signing up to get some money with clauses that you cannot adhere to. You don't want to be put into a position where you have to pay the money back...but don't have it.
Tips on Getting a grant
The very first thing you should do is make sure you are eligible for the grant. It can be easy to get greedy see a huge sum available for something...but really you have zero chance of getting it...you'll have ended up wasting precious time on trying to get a grant when you could have been building your business. Amazing 10% of grant submissions get knocked back because they are not eligible in the first place.
Make time to apply - make sure you read the criteria for the application and you can fulfill all the requirements set out. If it is a complicated grant worth a lot of money then make sure one person at least is working on it full time with a grant expert if necessary (worth it).
Use the correct forms given to you. It might be easier to use your own forms that you have produced - but if they aren't in the right format then they can get binned straight away leaving you no time to re-apply if you have missed a deadline.
Some grants are competitive - only one company may be getting the money - so make sure you stand out from the rest. Remember someone in the corridors of power is making a decision to give your business some money. They don't want to find out that it has been squandered or is complained about, try and put yourselves in their shoes - would you give your business the grant money?
Make sure you have everything in place - such as funding...a government grant may give you 30% or whatever percentage to fund a new project - make sure you have the balance ready if you are given the green light to go ahead with it. You'll never be given money ever again if you have to return the money because you couldn't raise the rest of the capital. If you can provide examples of your company using grant money in a positive way in the past then clearly this will put a positive spin on your business.
Winning the grant
Once you've won your grant you will have to meet the obligations set out in the terms and conditions for getting your grant in the first place. It is important to report key milestones achieved. You'll need to ensure your record keeping and reporting systems are working properly - if you are running your business well this should be a walk in the park.
Enjoy your grant money!