The Basics of Small Business Grants and How You Can Get One

Small business grants are a popular topic because they’re alluring. After all, a grant will give you money to start your own small business, and you will not have to pay it back. It’s sort of like getting a gift of money, or an inheritance.

There’s a lot of confusion and misinformation about small business grants though, and there are a lot of scams too. So let’s look at some of the basics…

  1. Small business grants are not usually given out by the federal government. State government groups and offices however, often do give out small business grants for specific purposes. Generally state government grants are given to help create jobs and boost the economy in the state.
  2. Small business grants are usually given for specific reasons. Not everyone can qualify for every grant available. Many grants are only available to specific minorities such as African Americans for instance, or women, or even African American Women. There are grants for Native American owned small businesses, grants for technology based businesses, and grants for innovative businesses too. And this is possibly the least understood aspect of small business grants. Many people mistakenly believe that anyone can get a grant, or multiple grants, just by applying. But you need to follow the application rules and guidelines. A small business owned solely by a man is not going to get a grant which is just available to women owned businesses.
  3. Grants are offered by a variety of organizations. Many grants are offered by private foundations for instance, while others may be offered by corporations.
  4. Small business grants take time. Most grants have a detailed, step-by-step application process that must be completed. And that application can take time to complete. A lot of time. Depending on the source of the small business grant, there may be other requirements that have to be met before they’ll even look at your application too. And once the application is accepted, it could be a year or more before the organization decides who will get the limited number of small business grants they have available.
  5. Small business grants are plentiful yet scarce. There are literally thousands of places to apply for small business grants, but each place usually has a very limited number of grants to give. It’s not uncommon for there to be only one grant available from a given organization each year, and in some cases there’s just one grant every five years or so.
  6. Small business grants may not help a start up. This is another common misconception about small business grants. Many people who are ready to start a business, think that getting a business grant is the best way to get started. The problem though, is that many small business grants will only be awarded to existing or established businesses.

Part of the grant application process will involve submitting a copy of your detailed business and marketing plans, submitting financial data to show your profits and profit margins.

And even when you do locate sources of small business grants that will accept applications from start up companies, you often need to have money available for hiring grant consultants and professional grant writers too.

So yes, getting a small business grant is quite possible, but be aware you will need to work very hard to get one, and it could take quite a bit of time too.

Boost Your Business Profits – Advertise

There is hardly any business which does not possess the potential to become transformed into the proverbial ‘hen that lays the golden eggs’; the reason you will need to review and adopt for implementation ways in which to boost your business profits.

This you can achieve when you advertise.

Underlying the establishment and set up of most businesses apart from helping to meet people’s needs and wants is for profits -this is one factor you can neither run nor shy away from.

You may have come to discover that even after you have done everything that is required to get your business going, it is taking you ages to get the visitors and customers that are needed to make the expected sales which in turn is to positively affect and reflect in your profit and loss account (this is the bottom line).

One thing which needs re-addressing is the marketing and promotional dynamics which in a layman’s way is getting the word out about your business by deploying various means in order to enable your business become a money maker on the internet.

Business success is characterized by the amount of money you make and the profit you realize at the end of the day while reducing or cutting down on losses drastically.

As an entrepreneur, you will well agree setting up most businesses require a lot of planning (organize), money (capital), and people (manpower) in getting things in its proper location and direction.

One additional and essential requirement is ADVERTISEMENT i.e. getting the word out so that your business will be known to be up and running.

Spreading the word around and abroad for all to hear can be achieved from one individual to another when you realize that what people either see or hear of stays longer in their consciousness because a lasting impression is created.

Most businesses hardly get bye let alone make money when it lies hidden in obscurity where nobody is aware of its existence. Getting your business on the internet can indeed shoot up your ROI (return on investments) sky high.

People in general and as a rule of thumb look for products to buy and services to patronize when they are aware a business exists offering that product, good or service and can also deliver on what is promised. this is why many businesses are constantly getting featured in magazines, sit-com, soap operas, talk shows, game shows, advert sponsorship of popular TV programs, etc.

One sure, tried, tested and proven way to making money on the internet with your business is getting your business to be seen and/or heard of around your local community and beyond. The more word gets out and spreads around about the product, good or service you have to offer, the more chances you have for patronage from visitors and customers who are the potential buyers seeking your business out.

Advertisement is a key to business success and survival any day, any place and any season. When you do business as business, you are guaranteed sales and returns on your investments which invariably translate into PROFITS for you.

1. GO ONLINE -Find and deploy every means to get your business on the internet. Get a domain name, create a web page/website for it and also remember to do additional advertisement for it.

2. ORGANIZE EVENTS/ SEMINARS -One technique that has been proven and is quite effective is organizing events and seminars where people get to register and attend FREE (or paid to receive course materials/brochures, training manuals and certificate of attendance). This way, you get to introduce your business to participants who in turn will help in spreading the word around and abroad.

3. SOCIAL (CHARITY) WORK/ COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT -Getting involved in one social work or the other also helps get the word out and around about your business. You can sponsor a group of people (artisans or professionals) to do the social work for your business while you get the credit for it. You can co-sponsor local or international events such as sports, debates, talk shows, telecast, etc where your business is promoted and acknowledged.

4. CORPORATE GIFT/ PRODUCT PACK -You can produce quality branded items such as Tee-shirts, Face caps, Key holders, Memo pads, Customized pens, etc with your logo on them as part of the drive to create business awareness for people and customers alike. This is one method you can deploy to spread the word around about your business.

Three benefits you derive from advertising (i.e. spreading and getting the word out) your business is:

1. You get the opportunity to publicize your business and become known around and abroad.

2. You get more customers to patronize your business time and time again which translates into increased sales.

3. You get to make more sales (more money) which translate into more profits.

These methods are advertisement ways and means you can deploy to create more awareness for your business with a view to getting recognized, making money on the internet and boosting business profits through increased sales.

Business Credit Cards – Is the Hype Justified?

If you are a small business owner, you have probably received business credit card offers in mail or e-mail. Most business men and women talk about the benefits of owning a business credit line, but many cannot really explain why you need to have them.

To put it simply, a business credit card is designed to fit the needs of business owners and in some occasion start-ups. These cards are not very much different than their consumer counterparts. But they allow businesses to have a dedicated credit line for themselves. In addition, if you are a one-employee limited liability company, you should always try to separate your personal accounts from your business accounts. Business checking accounts and business credit accounts allow you to do just that. Business card often do have more flexibility and rewards for business owners but for most part they work the same way as consumer credit cards.

One of the main benefits of business credit cards is realized in the accounting area. Small businesses and start-ups can spend less time managing their accounting affair and concentrate more on their core capabilities by using business credit cards. Besides, the tax process at the end of each year becomes more manageable by using business accounts. But business owners need to make sure they segregate business and personal expenses at all times.

Business owners need to make sure they:

o Keep the expenses separate at all costs. Your business checking account should be linked to your business credit card. You should not pay your business bills with your personal accounts.
o Acquire their expense reports from their business credit card companies every month to find out what they can do, with the help of their issuers, to make the accounting process more manageable.
o Ask their card issuers about the ability to manage credit accounts using software packages such as Quicken. These software packages are very powerful tools for managing accounting for small businesses.

At the end of the day, business credit cards are great tools for businesses to reduce the accounting overheard. They may come with more rewards or a lower APR but the real strength is the way they make it easy to manage a small business.