Most small businesses will need to acquire capital to achieve expansion and growth at one point or another. Often, a small business receives money in the form of a loan. However, a better alternative would be to consider applying for a small business grant.
Unlike loans, you don’t have to repay grants. But to gain access to “free money,” you must ensure you meet the grant requirements. In addition, you have to write a proposal that’s detailed and compelling.
Here is why you should secure an SBA grant and the top recommendations for writing small business grant proposals.
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Why You Should Apply for an SBA Grant
One of the top reasons you should secure an SBA grant is that it will lift your company financially. Many small businesses are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. And now that there is an economic downturn, it’s more important than ever that a small business receives a grant to offset the losses from the pandemic and inflation.
According to a survey by Statista, the results showed that about 29% of small-business owners say inflation is the biggest problem for their business.
Luckily, a grant can provide relief with the working capital you receive to invest in your operations.
But beyond the money, the SBA provides you with an influx of resources — which help you find funds to grow your business. This includes business coaching, financial counseling, and finding the right grant programs.
Plus, you have support from the SBA to help you complete the application process, making applying much easier and increasing your chances of success.
The Best Methods for Writing a Grant Proposal
- Analyze past success stories
- Incorporate compelling stories
- Focus on the impact of funding
- Consider hiring a grant writer
1. Analyze Past Success Stories
Most grant sites will publish past success stories. Avoid looking at these as promotional fluff. You can use them as a road map for your submission and find out how grantees won.
Past success stories will give insight into how other small businesses stood out. These can explain why they chose a particular company or what was special about their proposal.
Following these clues will inspire your proposal and give you the necessary intelligence to guide you through it.
2. Incorporate Compelling Stories
When applying for a grant, the application will typically have a written component alongside the qualifications you need to meet for the proposal’s acceptance guidelines. This may include a business plan, proposal, or personal statement. While it’s tempting to focus on explaining the technical details of your business or financial projections, this may not be the most effective method.
Humans are hard-wired to remember stories rather than figures. Therefore, you might consider writing a story about your business since this is memorable and easier to understand. While you’ll need to mention your figures, you should incorporate them throughout your storytelling to support the overall message.
Many professionals struggle with telling stories when it includes facts and figures. In the chart below, you can see that it’s one of their biggest challenges yet.
According to Marketing Charts, 21.5% of creative professionals said telling the right story with their data is their most significant challenge.
To offset this obstacle, think of your proposal as a compelling page-turner. Your goal is to keep the reader hooked from the start and weave elements of your story to maintain their investment.
3. Focus On the Impact of Funding, Not the Need
Programs that offer grant money already know that you’re applying because you need the money. Beyond this reason, they want to know the true reason you’re applying for the grant. Instead of focusing on your need for funding, consider explaining how the donation will positively impact your small business.
Writing your proposal from this aspect will help you to stand out from the crowd of other applicants.
The following examples will show you how one would focus on the impact of a grant:
- The grant helps develop an online course to bring in additional revenue while consumer spending is slow.
- Allows for hiring part-time employees to help increase sales.
- Helps purchase more inventory, which will lead to greater profits.
- It will make a significant difference in keeping your doors open versus shutting down. If it does stay open, this will positively impact customers’ lives and the surrounding communities.
In short, it helps to explain what you’ll do with funds and how it impacts the success of your business. When other applicants have the same business model as you, the impact’s significance can be the deciding factor — which can work in your favor.
4. Consider Hiring a Grant Writer
If you’ve got writer’s block or writing isn’t exactly your forte, it might be worth the investment to hire a professional grant writer. Grant writing isn’t exactly easy, especially since grants are highly competitive — making it challenging to stand out. Plus, annuities have more detailed requirements than loans.
Grant-makers will want to see evidence that shows you can achieve certain outcomes — such as meeting operational goals or project completion.
And as a small business owner, you may not have the time to write your proposal, especially if you’re applying for several grants. Therefore, it may make more sense for you to hire a grant writer.
Grant writers are professionals that have the experience to write the perfect proposal. In turn, they may help you secure the funding you need for your small business.
Plus, you don’t have to feel guilty about having someone write your proposal. Many business owners use consultants to help them secure grants — especially since not everyone has a specialty in writing.
In fact, the grant services industry will increase to approximately $170.3 billion by 2024.
This figure shows that an astounding number of businesses will invest in consulting services to assist them with the work involved in grant applications.
Persevere in Your Grant Application Endeavors
The path to obtaining grant money isn’t easy. You may receive many rejections along the way. However, upholding true determination and persistence will eventually lead you to that one “Yes.”
Once you succeed, you’ll make all the difference for yourself and your business — a time investment worth fulfilling.