When you fall into a protected class, such as a veteran, a disabled person or are a minority, several foundations and places provide grants for small businesses. Grant writing requires a special form of writing and must be geared to the style in which the grant documents are presented. Nonprofit organizations, agencies or foundations that provide grants to qualified small business owners also prepare an application package that lists what they’re looking for in a grant proposal. Always read the application package carefully and write the grant in the same voice as that used in the application.
Establish Your Business Plan
Before you can write a grant proposal, you need a clear vision of your business goals and objectives. This starts with creating an overall business plan that includes a business budget and where you plan the business to be in the next few years. It would help to develop an overall mission and statement for the business that conceptualizes the main intent behind the business.
In your business plan, assess your current situation, the business competition and make sure you know who your target market or the makeup of your market’s specific demographics. Analyze the business goals and objectives, weaknesses and strengths and develop strategy and tactics. Include an advertising, marketing or promotional plan on how you plan to position or brand your business in the marketplace.
Look for help from the Small Businessman’s Association or the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). SCORE often provides one-on-one assistance from a retired business professional and several workshops to help you get started. Develop an executive summary of your business that describes its purpose and what differentiates it from the competition in the market place. Create a summarized sheet of your target market and write up a page on the status of your business—whether you are just starting out or are buying an established business. Incorporate a two-year budget that details all your expected income and expenses. Be realistic. All of this must be prepared in advance of your grant proposal, some of which will be included in the grant, if requested.
All About Grants
Grants are typically a donation of a set amount of money made by foundations, other businesses, government agencies or nonprofit organizations to companies or individuals that meet specific requirements and qualify for the grant. Grants do not have to be paid back. Grants for businesses follow strict requirements and are typically offered for minority- or veteran-owned businesses or to individuals that have a disability.
Grants must be individually written and tailored to the grant package. Typically a grant package will require specific information that must be addressed in the grant. To effectively respond and create a grant proposal, it helps to follow the grant application requirements specifically in order. Answer each question that is asked using the same “voice” as that found in the documents. Mirroring the verbiage in the document helps to let the organization providing the grant know that you understand their organization’s purpose.
Organizations that provide grants have a vision—so it’s important to understand what that is and tailor your grant proposal to align with the organization’s mission statement and overall purpose. Confirm that you understand how the grant is to be completed and do not leave out any details. Typically, you get one shot at a grant proposal. Include a cover letter and make sure to let the granting organization know that you understand goals and purposes by dovetailing your business needs in with that purpose. Include a business organizational chart, an executive summary and other pertinent materials up front in the grant proposal. Follow the instructions for submitting the grant in the manner, format, style and time frame required by the granting organization. This may include the type of paper, binders, margins, fonts and more. Some organizations will throw out a grant proposal that is not written to the exact specifications requested.
Quick tips to follow before and during grant proposal preparation:
- Complete your business plan
- Identify financial needs and purpose
- Write up an executive summary of your business’ needs
- Research funding sources for grants
- Identify granting organizations that match your business vision and goals
- Get a hold of grant application guidelines, information and contact person
- Before you start writing, clarify any questions about the application you may have
- Develop the grant proposal outline
- Write the grant proposal