COVID-19’s impact has created a ripple that will forever be felt across all facets of business. Whether you’re a gig worker, recently graduated student, small business, non-profit, or corporate body, we have all felt the financial knock of the coronavirus. The United States responded quickly, providing stimulus greater than anything history has ever seen before, supporting its citizens and businesses through multiple relief programs. Growth and movement are what the U.S. and all economies need the most during this taxing period, making grants and loans for businesses, small and large, extremely viable. The support and injection of finances can turn a company around. It can birth ideas into foundations for the future. Here’s a look at how your company can capitalize on grants and loans during this dire time of the pandemic.
Applying for a business grant
Applying for a grant isn’t easy. It is a process that takes time and a meticulous application that stands out from the rest. Even in a small selection of applicants, applying for and winning even a small business grant requires skill, patience, and planning. A good grant application can take weeks to complete, while we highly advise seeking professional consultation from accountants, property agents, and anyone else involved in your costing, plans, and projections. Here’s a selection of tips to ensure that your business grant application is correct and noticeable.
Requirements are exact
Don’t even think about starting the application process before going through the exact requirements of your prospective grant application precisely. Don’t think that you can cut corners or fob off half-truths. If you don’t make the cut in terms of diversity, operational length, or a focus on environmental impact, then you’re going to have to grow as a company before you can think of grants and funding like that. It’s a waste of time and effort for everyone involved to apply without being properly qualified.
Read all the requirements & prepare properly
Grant application instructions are not flexible. They are not guidelines but instead exact instructions that must be followed precisely and completely. If your grant application asks for a full page of substantiation, then don’t try to get away with a half-page nor a page and a half. Before you start devising the perfect grant app contact the grant officer in person to get a better idea of what they need. Discuss scheduling, preferences, budget constraints, and plans for the future. Never agitate but keep in mind that information is your friend. The more you know the better your grant application will stand out from the rest.
Develop a good business plan
Your business plan needs to state what you intend to accomplish, how you’re going to get it done when you project to do it, and why you believe you’re guaranteed success. Every business plan needs to cite the strategic focus of your business, saying what it is that you’ll do and how you plan to stand out from the competition. A solid, realistic marketing plan must be a part of your proposal, with the details of how you plan to promote yourself, pricing of products or services, and the short, medium and long-term plan of getting your product to market. A well-rounded, efficient operations plan must be in place dictating what your staff are responsible for and which organizational structure you plan to follow.
Leave nothing out
Supply chain details must be there and include your general approach to management. Finally, structure a financial plan that projects profits and losses at realistic estimates, while also stating the bare minimum sales needed to break even. Cite running costs, funding sources, all monetization, and the appropriation of your budget in full. If you plan to take on a loan, cite security and a projection of when and why this will be necessary. Always take into consideration the total size of your market and the growth. List everything that you feel will characterize your business as a formidable force and definite success in your industry.
Once you’ve made that lasting impression that leaves a smile on the face of your grant officer when they see your application, and have put forth a grant including some of the most carefully prepared and presented information with a precise budget and realistic projections, it is then time to relax and wait to follow up. Don’t hassle the grants office. Give the process due time to run its course, but don’t make the mistake of waiting indefinitely. Every application needs to be followed up on. No exceptions. A friendly phone call after a reasonable time has passed, and perhaps another followup is all that it takes to show that you’re proactive, assertive, remembered, and taken care of.
Here are some of the most widely accessible and applicable grants available to small, medium, and large-sized businesses. We’ll be taking you through all the best ways to find funding for your enterprise, as well as loans to carry you through this period of crisis induced by the coronavirus pandemic.
Save Small Business Grant Fund
If your business operates with a staff body of between three and twenty employees and your business has been harmed by the economic impact of COVID-19, then you may qualify for a grant up to $5,000 from the Save Small Business Grant Fund. All grant funds must be spent on company expenses, with the entire process being made easy thanks to the ZIP-code search implemented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on their website. Check your details here, and be ready to send in your W-9 form to apply if you’re eligible.
Grants.gov gives you a complete database of grant opportunities administered by the federal government & connected agencies. It has everything that you need to know about federal grants, and you can browse freely through opportunities. You will, however, need to register for an account to file, and view full eligibility requirements. Small businesses and individuals can search for grants. With careful filtering, you’re bound to find an application that suits your direction or company.
You can look forward to finding grants across agriculture, affordable care, arts, business and commerce, community development, consumer protection, disaster prevention, and relief, education, employment, labor and training, energy, environmental affairs, food and nutrition, health, housing, the humanities, income security, and social services, information and statistics, law, justice, and legal services, natural resources, opportunity zone benefits, recovery, regional development, science and technology, and other research & development, and transportation as a whole.
Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)
Both the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are instated to supply federal funding for technological developments that hold potential for commercialization. Small businesses are encouraged to participate in cooperative research and development between themselves and research institutions, leveraging upcoming technology, and research information to empower business. This grant is perfect for small businesses that can find ways to collaborate with non-profit research institutions and universities. Small businesses applying for SBIR or STTR funding need to be both the applicant for funding and the technical lead listed.
Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR)
While the SBIR and STTR programs are similar, the STTR’s main function is to enable partnerships between small businesses and not-for-profit research providers. You can find full compliance details here. Collaboration between a research institution and the small business applying is mandatory during the first and second phases of grant application. The STTR differs from the SBIR in the way that it calls for a partnership whereby a formal intellectual property agreement sharing the rights of search, development, and commercialization has been set out. It also stipulates that the small business involved in the application is performing a minimum of 40% of the research and development, while the partnering research firm must be accountable for at least 30% Finally, the STTR also deems that the head, primary investigator be permanently employed by the research provider or institution partnered with the small business applying.
Challenge.gov is a repository of competitions and prizes awarded by the federal government across scientific, creative, and technical industries. Citizens are encouraged to help the U.S. government solve large problems while receiving federal funding for their efforts. There are lots of challenges to browse, and any business or individual can submit their ideas for a chance to be awarded the funding to start their challenge proposal. Some of the most prominent achievements have come as a result of federal funding through open competitions. From Lindbergh’s historic transatlantic flight to self-driving cars on Mars, the U.S. government has fueled and launched nearly a thousand challenges since 2010. Challenge is empowering students, researchers, innovators, small business owners, academics, and anyone who feels inspired and driven to share their impactful ideas and concepts.
GrantWatch makes it straightforward to sort through grants listed by federal, state, foundational, and corporation grants across the U.S. and Canada. You can sort by location or according to small business only. In order to view full eligibility details, you’ll need to pay for a membership, so be sure to give the portal a thorough look to see if it covers your needs before subscribing.
Rural Business Development Grants
Rural business development grants have no maximum grant amount, but smaller applications are granted priority. Anyone who plans to use funds to implement a project that benefits rural areas or towns outside of urban development can apply. If you reside within an area with a population of 50,000 or less, you may be eligible for a rural business development grant. A full list of eligible areas can be found here. Grants can be used to propel community economic growth, technological development, and economic growth, business feasibility studies and enterprise planning, long-term strategic business planning & development organizations, staff leadership and entrepreneurship training, and institutions that provide a supportive environment to nurture rural startups and existing businesses in rural communities. You can find out more information and get your application process started by contacting your USDA Rural Development state office or local contact.
U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration CARES Act Funding
The Economic Development Administration has approved funding to the value of $1.5 billion, which is to be dispersed in the form of grants, loans, and EDA-funded revolving finance to state and local government authorities, higher education bodies, not-for-profit institutions, and Tribes who are federally recognized. If you have suffered economic injury as the result of COVID-19 and require funding to prevent, prepare for, or respond to the coronavirus, the EDA may have funding for your project. Full details concerning the scope and application of your project need to be provided. Small businesses are not eligible.
Here are grants of interest to diversity groups affected by the coronavirus.
Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant – Women-owned businesses namely those who have 51% female ownership and leading management may be eligible for a grant. If you’ve been running for three years or more and make less than one million dollars a year in revenue, and you have a focus on improving either environmental or affecting humanitarian change, then this grant may be for you. Every year Eileen Fisher gives away grants to ten lucky female-owned businesses so be sure to check it out if you apply and have a stellar vision for the future
The Amber Grant – Each and every month, a single female business owner or entrepreneur receives funding to the value of $2,000, while once a year, one lucky person receives an extra $25,000. It costs you $15 to apply for the grant, but its parent organization WomensNet is reputable, reliable, and is successfully empowering female innovators.
Veteran Small Business Award – Veterans or spouses of veterans who own and operate at least 51% of a small business may be eligible for a Veteran Small Business Award grant. You have to be a veteran, reserve, or on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces (or transitioning). Spouses of such individuals also qualify. Those eligible must be within a low-income group, lacking the financial means to begin a startup, business, or non-profit organization. Preference is given to those providing educational empowerment, while separate grants are awarded to female innovators in the form of the Female Founders Veteran Small Business Award program. An entry requires a two-minute video pitching your vision and qualifications while making sure to mention your connection to the military as well.
Relief Funding for Medium to Large Enterprises
Here are the prominent federal relief programs instated to support small, medium, and large enterprises, as well as the info that you need to check eligibility and get the application process started.
Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance
Federal business relief programs have been made available across four main areas, namely Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advances, the Paycheck Protection Program, the Treasury Loan Program, and Federal Tax Relief. EIDLs dispense up to $2-million to small businesses, which include emergency advance grants to a maximum of $10,000. PPP loans are granted to small to medium-sized enterprises to a value reaching a maximum of $10,000. Treasury loans are aimed at medium-sized and large companies, while federal tax relief is provided to all industries during this pressing time to help stabilize the national economy.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Program: SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans & Emergency Grants – Small businesses can seek out low-interest loans to the value of $2-million at a maximum using this SBA link
Payroll Protection Program Loans – Small businesses lacking the capital required to keep their employees can apply loans to the value of two-and-a-half times the average monthly payroll of each applicant across a twelve-month period reaching a maximum of $10-million. Businesses can apply for loans from approved lenders before submitting the SBA application form as well.
Small Business Debt Relief Program – Existing SBA loan holders are entitled to six-months’ of payments, including interest and fees. Deferred loans also qualify for the subsidy, taking effect from the date deferment ceases. In accordance with the CARES Act, the SBA debt relief also applies to new loans.
Severely Stressed Sector Loans – $454 billion has been appropriated for loans to support business, nonprofits, state, and federal organizations retain liquidity. Preference is given to non-profits and medium-sized businesses spanning 500 to 10,000 employees who currently have loans accruing an annual interest of 2% or less per year. Eligible businesses are stated as air carriers, for whom the principal of this relief system has been designed, and U.S. businesses that have not received suitable economic relief by means of grants, loans, or loan guarantees appropriated by the CARES Act. You can find and complete the Guidelines and Application Procedures for Payroll Support to Air Carriers and Contractors of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities Act here.
Finding Assistance As A Struggling Business Owner -The first thing that we recommend that you do as a business owner if you’re at a loss for direction after being impacted by COVID-19 is to turn to your closest Small Business Administration District Office. There you’ll be connected with local partners who provided counseling, mentoring, and small business advisement services. You can find support at any connected partner such as Women’s Business Centers, SBA Centers, Veteran’s Business, and Outreach Centers, to name but a few. You can find the operating SBA offices here, and a local directory here. All SBA offices are currently receiving increased funding under Title I, Section 1106 of the CARES Act, to assist in helping businesses navigate their way to success during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. Use the help available to you. It helps the whole of the USA.
The first thing that we recommend that you do as a business owner if you’re at a loss for direction after being impacted by COVID-19 is to turn to your closest Small Business Administration District Office. There you’ll be connected with local partners who provided counseling, mentoring, and small business advisement services. You can find support at any connected partner such as Women’s Business Centers, SBA Centers, Veteran’s Business, and Outreach Centers, to name but a few. You can find the operating SBA offices here, and a local directory here. All SBA offices are currently receiving increased funding under Title I, Section 1106 of the CARES Act, to assist in helping businesses navigate their way to success during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. Use the help available to you. It helps the whole of the USA.