Who doesn't like free money? These are small business grants, right?
It could help you pay salaries, buy stocks, or reach new customers.
While scholarships are "free" in the sense that you don't have to pay them back, they are not handouts.
You can't just go to a website and ask for “a small business grant, please” and expect to get it.
You have to apply for a scholarship, which can take some work and effort. Then compete against other small businesses who also want the grant. It is common for even small grants to receive hundreds of applicants. However, a list of small business grants is a good place to start.
I have compiled a list of 23 Small Business Scholarships but before I get to that there are 3 things you should understand:
- Almost all grants are for existing businesses – if you have not yet started your business, it is almost impossible to get a grant. Instead, look for a loan.
- Grants are given to "interesting" companies - a standard cafe will have a hard time getting a grant. Most are awarded to companies that are innovative or make a social contribution.
- Scholarships are not awarded immediately – most scholarships only accept applications once a year, and the winner is not announced until later. Scholarships are not a short-term financing solution.
If all of that makes sense, let's move on to small business grants. Almost all of these scholarships are focused on companies in the United States.
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Where to find small business grants
I dug as deep as I could to find these online scholarships but be aware that there are many that are not easy to find online.
If you contact business associations or community development centers, they may be able to assist you in finding grants that your business may be eligible for.
Good control points are:
- Development centers for small businesses
- Regional SBA Offices
- Local Incubator
Government sources for small business grants
There are many government grants from both the federal and local governments.
- Grants.gov: The first place all small businesses should turn is to look for a federal grant. It's a database of thousands of scholarships with powerful filters to help you quickly narrow down results to those you have a good chance of winning.
- Small Business Administration (SBA) grants.: The SBA primarily supports small companies in their search for conventional means of financing such as loans. But they also have some funding programs that are specifically aimed at researching or exporting companies.
Here are the top government-sponsored grants:
- Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR): SBIR is a long-standing funding program for research-based companies with commercialization potential. They award grants through 12 major federal agencies:
- Ministry of Agriculture
- National Institute for Standards and Technology
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Department of Defense
- Ministry of Education
- energy authority
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Homeland Security
- Ministry of Transport
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
- National Science Foundation
- Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR): The STTR program is similar to the SBIR program. It also focuses on companies involved in a research program, but is only available to those based at a formal research institution. It's also more restrictive by industry, with only five federal agencies currently awarding STTR grants:
- Department of Defense
- energy authority
- Department of Health and Human Services
- National Science Foundation.
- State Trade Expansion Program (STEP): This program provides grants to small export companies. There is not much information available online about this scholarship so you will need to contact the SBAsOffice of International Tradeto see your eligibility.
- SAM.gov (ehemals Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance): This is another great federal database with a modern redesign. While there is some overlap with Grants.gov, you'll find some unique pointers that are worth checking out. You can use the advanced search filters to show only grant recipients, or you can show other funding sources such as loans.
- Challenge.gov: This is not technically a website offering a scholarship program, but the program offers significant prize money for solving challenges faced by a variety of industries. Many of these challenges are technology driven, but there are non-technical challenges as well. If you're doing something innovative, monitor Challenge.gov for relevant challenges that could be easy wins for your small business.
- USDA Grants: If you have a farming or food service business, you may have a good chance of getting a grant from the USDA. They have these seven funding programs:
Some USDA grants focus on small rural businesses, but not all. Check the admissions requirements for each program you are interested in to see if you qualify.
- Stipendien des National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).: This is where NIST lists its grants. They are intended for small businesses in science or technology fields. The currently active grants can be found either here or through Grants.gov.
- Grants from the Ministry of Education: The Department of Education maintains an active list of several scholarships it offers to small businesses in the education field. The award ceiling for many scholarships is in the millions of dollars. So if you run an education-based business, you should actively monitor these scholarships.
- EPA grants: The EPA offers dozens of grants for small businesses trying to improve the environment, especially in innovative ways. There are grants that target air quality, environmental quality, water quality, pollution prevention, and more.
- Economic Development Administration (EDA): The EDA awards grants to small businesses aimed at improving community infrastructure. The only problem is that there is no easy-to-monitor grant directory. You must check this page frequently for new announcements. You can see if your business is relevant by reviewing previous opportunitiesthis page.
grants for companies
One of the best sources of small business grants are companies that want to give back to the community. You may face less competition as the grants are not listed on popular websites like Grants.gov.
- FedEx Small Business Grant: In 2022, this support program for companies received 18,000 applications with a total of 10 winners. This gives you a 1 in 780 chance of winning, or 0.13%.
You can rule out a large proportion of applications as there are always irrelevant or unreliable applications, but the numbers give you a realistic sense of how difficult it can be to get scholarships unless you are doing something really special. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to get scholarships, but be realistic.
The three big prizeswinnerEntrants in this contest received $50,000 and $4,000 in FedEx printing services, respectively, while the top six winners received $20,000 and $1,500 in FedEx printing services.
To enter, you must deliver your elevator pitch, including how your business is making a difference to your community or the environment. And of course you have to prove that the prize money is actually needed.
- Leihbaum: Lending Tree primarily offers various types of loans, but also regularly conducts small business grant contests. They judge companies by how passionate the founders are and whether the growth of their business positively impacts the community.
- National Association of the Self-employed (NASE): If you are self-employed, you may be eligible for the $4,000 monthly stipend provided by NASE. There aren't too many requirements to meet other than being a NASE member.
- Small business grants from Idea Cafe: Idea Cafe is a news and resource site for small business owners. They're offering $1,000 to recipients, and it's one of the few grants that doesn't even require you to have started your business to participate. The winners will be determined by votes from the community.
- Grants from the Walmart Foundation: Walmart offers grants specifically for nonprofits. The grants are not a fixed amount but fall into two categories.
The Community Grant Program is aimed at local nonprofit organizations and costs between $250 and $5,000.
The National Giving Program is for national nonprofit organizations and awards grants of $250,000 and up.
The grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations focused on opportunity, sustainability, or communities. Basically every socially oriented company.
- Wells Fargo Community Giving Grants: These grants, offered by Wells Fargo, are specifically designed for educational institutions and non-profit organizations. Businesses can apply throughout the year and there is no fixed amount for the award. Wells Fargo awards millions in grants each year.
Corporate Scholarships for Women
In addition to all of the grants we've looked at so far, there are several grants and resources specifically for women-owned small businesses.
I encourage you to visit your local onebusiness centers for womenif possible - there are over 100 in the United States. They can point you to additional funding opportunities or help you find alternative funding methods.
- The Bernstein Grants: Each month, a small business owned by a woman wins a $10,000 Amber Grant. You need to get votes to win, so having a strong social network helps. At the end of the year, the 12 recipients have a chance to win the annual $25,000.
- Die InnovateHer-Challenge: This is a grant for women entrepreneurs, funded by the SBA each year. There are 3 winners, with first place receiving $40,000, second receiving $20,000 and third receiving $10,000. It is quite a prestigious grant that comes with a lot of publicity for the recipients’ companies as well.
To be eligible, you must first win an InnovateHer local challenge to qualify for the national competition.
Any type of company is eligible, but those that cater to women and their social issues tend to perform best.
- Cartier Women’s Initiative Award: These grants areprestigious awardsThat can make a big difference for any small business. There are 21 finalists (three from each of the world's seven major regions), all of whom will receive personalized coaching, training, networking opportunities and media exposure. That alone is worth a lot of money.
In addition, all 21 finalists will receive a scholarship. The top 7 will receive a $100,000 stipend and personalized business mentoring. The other 14 still receive a $30,000 stipend.
Business Grants for Veterans
Many veterans go into entrepreneurship after their service. Unfortunately there are manyLoans specifically for veterans, there are very few scholarships.
It is best to visit aVeterans Business Outreach Center, where they can direct you to local grants that you may be eligible for. Each center also offers training and access to other small business resources for veterans.
- The second service foundation: The Second Service Foundation is the only reliable online source for Veteran Scholarships. They offer grants and loans to small businesses run by veterans or their spouses.
The grants are awarded to companies each month based on how much social impact they have and how strong they arebusiness ideaIs.
Corporate Grants for Minorities
There are many business loans for minorities, but just like veterans, grants are few.
- Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA): The MBDA offers very limited scholarships for all types of minority Americans. The grants are only awarded to those interested in operating one of MBDA's Minority Business Centers and only in specific locations where they wish to expand. You need to provide advisory services and help them secure funding and investments, and you need to show you have experience doing this - so very few people qualify.
In addition to these scholarships, MBDA also occasionally hosts other scholarship competitions. You need tomonitor their messagesto find those opportunities in the future, but there are no set timelines or guidelines for eligibility.
- Stipendien des First Nations Development Institute: Monitor this page and subscribe to their email list for new grant options for Native American small business owners. From 1993 to mid-2022, this organization awarded over 2,702 grants totaling $54.7 million. There are no restrictions on the types of businesses eligible for grants, as long as the owner is a Native American.
There are some grants that you may be eligible for that do not fall into any of the above categories.
- 100,000 stars in the United StatesInnovation Fund: These grants are specifically designed for higher education institutions. While your small business can't apply for them directly, you could work with an institution if you provide student services. They get funding and they get the value of your product or service.
How to apply and win business grants
As I mentioned earlier, there can be a lot of competition for scholarships. There are often hundreds of small businesses applying for a single grant.
In this section, I'll go over the top things you can do to improve your chances of getting scholarships.
Dos and Don'ts of Winning Business Grants
Let's start with some basic behaviors when trying to win scholarships.
- Make a schedule—some scholarships can only be applied for once a year. Allow enough time to prepare an application well in advance of the due date.
- Write a business plan first—most scholarships require one. More importantly, you know exactly how the grant money will help your business. Here is ourInstructions for writing a simple business plan.
- See which companies have received grants in the past - this can help you determine which grants are better for you to win. If they've funded similar types of businesses, that's a good sign.
- Get help from community business organizations - I've gone through many types of organizations that provide support to small business owners. This includes supporting you in your search for funding and presenting your company in the best possible light.
- Consider professional help – if you come across a grant that requires a well-written cover letter or essay, consider hiring a professional grant writer if you can afford it. It is usually only worthwhile for large grants.
- Wait until the last minute—several scholarships require you to become a member of an organization or earn a certification or license. You may not have time to complete eligibility requirements if you wait too long.
- Use one template for all grant applications - each application should be tailored to the specific grant. Otherwise you will add a lot of irrelevant information and skip important answers that were needed.
- Apply for any grant – there are several grants that your company has virtually no chance of winning. It is better to spend more time on the most relevant ones than to spread out and have lower quality applications for multiple grants.
Quick tips for more grants
There are many simple things you can do to improve your chances of getting a scholarship. Most are easy to understand, but you need to make sure you keep them in mind.
Learn all about other useful ways to fund your business with oursSmall business finance guide.
How to get more grants:
- Always look for new funding opportunities. Setting up a Google Alert is a good idea.
- Make sure that the time spent on the application is really worth the award.
- Read the specific individual application instructions for each scholarship. Some are similar, but few are exactly the same.
- Before you spend a lot of time on an application, double-check that you're eligible.
- Provide exact numbers of how the grant will be used and how it will help.
- Check your spelling and grammar.
- If possible, submit your application early – you may look better prepared than those who apply late.
- Back up claims with credible citations.
- Be realistic when reporting your company's costs and income.
- Find a book in your library on grant writing if you want to write better proposals.
frequently asked Questions
At this point you probably have a few questions in your mind. Hopefully I can delete them here.
How do you qualify for a Small Business Grant?
Each individual grant indicates which companies are eligible to win it. Anyone can apply, but if you don't meet the criteria, you have no chance of receiving it. Of the grants listed on this page, almost any small business can apply for those in the government and corporate grant areas.
As mentioned above, as a woman you also have several scholarship opportunities.
Most of the remaining grants I've listed here are for a specific type of business, so you'll need to look at them individually and see if your small business is eligible.
Do you have to pay back small business grants?
NO! That makes them grants. Unlike loans, grants do not have to be repaid and can be used for almost any business purpose.
Some grants require you to report how the grants have been used and how they have helped, but that is usually for them to get more publicity or to try to help you further.
What is the number of scholarships I can apply for?
There is rarely a limit to the number of scholarships you can apply for. However, you can only apply once per company for each grant. Sometimes a program offers multiple scholarships per year. Most of them allow companies to submit applications multiple times, but some do not. Check the promotion details to find out.
What Kind of Credit Do You Need to Get a Scholarship?
Credit is rarely a factor in determining a scholarship winner. However, you will likely need a decent credit score to even get your business up and running before you can even apply for most scholarships.
Additionally, most grants require your small business to be in good financial shape, meaning you don't have unreasonable debt that you can't realistically pay back.
How much money can I get?
This varies greatly depending on the scholarship. One company can win a $500 prize while another can win $500,000. You should consider the amount of each grant when deciding which one to apply for.
Don't miss the opportunity!
There are many small business grants out there if you are willing to work for them.
If you want to win them, you have to take it seriously and beat the competition. Don't be afraid to apply to smaller ones, as they often have less competition than the high honors scholarships.
I strongly encourage you to also visit local small business associations and explore other avenuesfinance small businessesif you need money urgently.
If you still have questions about scholarships, please leave a comment and I will try to answer them.
Don't forget to start your business
Once you have decided to start a new business, the most important next step is to officially start your business. Most small businesses are formed as LLCs (limited liability companies).
This keeps all your assets separate from the business, limiting your personal liability while still giving you the tax benefits of passing on as a sole proprietorship.
The process of starting your business can be very simple. Incfile can do it all for you for $0 - all you pay are government fees.Do it now!
How do I get money to start my own business? ›
- Determine how much funding you'll need.
- Fund your business yourself with self-funding.
- Get venture capital from investors.
- Use crowdfunding to fund your business.
- Get a small business loan.
- Use Lender Match to find lenders who offer SBA-guaranteed loans.
- SBA investment programs.
No Federal Grants for Businesses
The federal government does not offer grants for starting or growing a business. It only provides grants for nonprofit and educational institutions.
- Competitive Grants. Competitive grants are those for which a nonprofit submits a proposal that gets evaluated by a team of reviewers. ...
- Continuation Grants. ...
- Pass-through Grants. ...
- Formula Grants.
No! The PPP expired on September 30, 2021, but Congress has legislation pending that would extend the program through 2022. If the government passes this legislation, businesses will be able to make PPP loan applications through December 31, 2022.How can I get 1000 dollars for my business? ›
- Senior Home Care Aid.
- Personal Trainer.
- Virtual Assistant.
- Auto Detailer.
- Social Media Manager.
This is the most common type of grant. Program/project grants specify that funding may only be used to support the program or project referenced in your proposal.
- Join a focus group.
- Start some freelance work.
- Review a mock trial.
- Earn while you shop.
- Sign up for surveys.
- Watch videos.
- Listen to music.
- Play games.
- Crowdfunding. This approach to raising money takes small amounts of cash from a large number of people. ...
- Friends and family loans. Do you have a personal support network that can back your new business idea? ...
- Small business loans. ...
- Capital investors. ...
- Small business grants.
£400 off your energy bills
All households with a domestic electricity connection will be automatically paid a £400 payment over 6 months between October 2022 and March 2023 to help with energy bills.
The £400 energy grant, which is called the Energy Bills Support Scheme, was introduced last year to help individuals and families with their energy bills over the winter period. The first payments began in October 2022. The scheme gave £400 over six payments to households reliant on electric and gas.
How do I find my local grants? ›
To search or apply for grants, use the free, official website, Grants.gov. Commercial sites may charge a fee for grant information or application forms. Grants.gov centralizes information from more than 1,000 government grant programs. It's designed to help states and organizations find and apply for grants.Will there be another PPP loan in 2023? ›
Will there be a new PPP loan in 2023? While it's impossible to predict with any certainty the future plans of the federal government, it is unlikely that there will be an additional paycheck protection program in 2023.Is it too late to apply for PPP loan? ›
Notice: PPP ended May 31, 2021
The PPP ended on May 31, 2021. Existing borrowers may be eligible for PPP loan forgiveness. SBA also offers additional COVID-19 relief.
Unfortunately, PPP loans in 2022 aren't happening –– eligibility for the program ended in May 2021 and there are no signs of it coming back. There are other options for securing small business funding besides PPP loans. Read on to learn about your options for how to get the funding you need.What is the cheapest business to start? ›
- Content creation. ...
- Personal or virtual assistant. ...
- Event planning services. ...
- Errand/concierge service. ...
- Professional reviewer. ...
- Social media consultant. ...
- Etsy shop. ...
- Online courses and tutoring.
- Fitness or physical therapy services. The pandemic seems to have permanently changed the fitness landscape. ...
- App development. ...
- Online consulting services. ...
- Dropshipping. ...
- Home improvement services. ...
- Information security. ...
- Event planning and virtual event planning. ...
- Commercial cleaning services.
- Online seller. Whether you want to sell apparel, collectibles, or whatever, you can easily get up and running online on the cheap. ...
- Virtual educator/trainer. ...
- Dropshipper. ...
- Social media marketer. ...
- Freelance writer or editor. ...
- Sales consultant. ...
- DIY crafts and treats. ...
- Lawn care.
Sell your services
- Freelance writing.
- Virtual assistant.
- Social media marketing.
- Handyman services.
- Find a free business idea.
- Write a business plan.
- Choose a business name.
- Launch a website.
- Validate ideas with preorders.
- Source funding to grow.
Service businesses can include things like:
- Tutoring and training.
- Graphic design.
- Digital marketing.
- Writing and editing.
How can I do business with no money? ›
- LLP Registration with EMI Option. The first step in starting any business is to incorporate a new business entity. ...
- Sell on Ecommerce Portals. ...
- Start providing Services. ...
- Compile a Great Business Plan. ...
- Government Schemes.
- Sell products online with dropshipping. ...
- Sell print-on-demand merchandise. ...
- Become an Amazon (or other marketplace) seller. ...
- Take your brick-and-mortar business online. ...
- Create instructional or entertaining videos. ...
- Start your own subscription service. ...
- Launch an interior design or home decor business. ...
- Start a podcast.
Fortunately, it is not necessary to spend thousands of dollars on a new business launch. You can start a business with $500 and nurture it into a part-time or full-time money maker. The secret to starting a business on a tight budget is choosing the right business and buying only what you need at the outset.Can I start my own business with 100 dollars? ›
The best businesses to start when you have $100 or less are either sales or service businesses. All you need is your phone and the internet. It could be a consulting business or selling cars, life insurance or even vacuum cleaners door to door.