According to New York Empire State Development, small businesses are the heart of the American economy, comprising 98 percent of all businesses in New York and employing more than half of New York’s private sector workforce. Innovation, creativity, determination and perseverance are just a few of the essential qualities small business owners demonstrate every day.
How can small business owners stay financially sound? Many larger corporations such as national banks, state and federal entities, and private foundations provide grant funding for supplementary income, the creation of new services, or to enhance current members. Any form of businesses — small or large — that seeks funding from an agency in the government or a private industry is required to write a grant proposal. A grant proposal is far more likely to be accepted if it is well composed and presented, brief and highly feasible.
Obtaining financing is one of the most crucial issues for a small business, and grant funding is one of the most viable funding options. Grant applications can vary in length from as short as a brief request letter to a grantor to as long as several dozen pages, with supplementary documentation, depending on the requirements of the specific grant for which you apply. The application process is an opportunity for a small business owner to demonstrate the business’s qualifications for the grant and the reasons for deserving the funding. Therefore, it is important to know the basic components of creating a solid proposal package.
When writing funding proposals of any type, it is important that a business sells itself to the potential funder and depicts the determination the business is willing to put forth to be successful. Summarize the main reasons as to why the grant is needed and how the grant will solve the problems of the business in the executive summary. Use this section to convince the grantor to fund your business. Detail the niche that the venture is filling in the statement of need; this portion of a grant application may look different depending on the format of the grant application and funder. Be concise and to the point in showing that your business is essential to the market and that you need the grant to make it viable.
Being detailed and organized in the grant proposal will be more beneficial. It helps to separate different issues and ideas into segments in the project description, the main section of the grant proposal. Focus on one idea at a time to make it easier for you to write and simpler for the reader to read. The three segments are: goals, methods and staffing. Proposals should begin by making sure that you clearly define your business idea and that you are able to articulate it properly.
Applying for any type of grant is a competitive process. The grant money is supplied for specific types of businesses, and those responsible for dispensing the money must review what usually amounts to a litany of applications to select the business or businesses that will receive the money. The most important way to increase the chances of success in applying for a grant is to write a successful proposal. The proposal should detail the business’s mission and activities, future goals, reasons for requesting the grant money and plans for using the grant money. Writing a proposal for a small business grant will take some preparation and time, but it will be worth the effort when the proposal succeeds in acquiring the requested grant money.
To write a successful winning grant, there are a number of basic steps any business should follow. First, do research in order to identify appropriate funding organizations. Once you have identified potential funders, you will then need to determine how to approach them. In many cases, it is best not to submit a grant application to a funding organization that knows nothing about your activities. So you may need to take the time to cultivate relationships with these organizations via phone calls, visits, and/or letters of inquiry. Finally, you will need to provide each funding organization with a well-written proposal which clearly states your objectives and sets forth a plan and budget for your activities. And don’t expect to receive money right away. Funding organizations often take many months to review and process grant applications.
Following some basic fundamental steps for grant writing can ultimately provide a lasting impact, resulting in positive outcomes for your business. Ask for help, do research and express your passion for your mission and your business.
Lynn Pietroski is president and CEO of the Greater Watertown North Country Chamber of Commerce. Contact her at email@example.com. Her column appears monthly in NNY Business.