Despite a pandemic and an increase in crime in most major (and some much smaller) cities, commerce has yet to really slow down. In fact, more people are having meals delivered, using financial planning services, and choosing a work-life balance. You may have noticed other industries experiencing a surge in popularity and wondering how this change may impact your small business efforts.
As the fiscal year comes to a close, there are often new opportunities for women business owners of all sizes and industries. These range from nonprofit organizations to government agencies. While the Small Business Administration (SBA) may be a solid grant lead for women and minorities, there are other links throughout this post. While I haven't applied for all of these myself, these resources are very solid to my personal knowledge.
The Real Truth About Getting Business Grants
As indicated, the SBA doesn't provide small business grants but when you work with a small business development center (SBDC) or approved entity, they can get things going. The process is still lengthy but for those who can't handle loan fees, the wait isn't bad. However, the paperwork process can be daunting.
It's been more than 15 years since I applied for several grants for my business. From what I understand today, the process is a little tougher but it can be a learning experience. Back when I applied, I was working with a new SBDC (which has since closed its doors) located inside a small Crenshaw area church. After attending a series of workshops, it was time to get down to business.
What May Surprise You
As an aspiring entrepreneur, all I knew was what I wanted to sell online or in certain offline markets. I hated working for the public school system, as it paid less than corporate America and seemed to have more drama attached. While applying for grants, it was revealed that I would target low-income opportunities but even after putting in around 30 hours/week in a classified position...I still made too much money.
Yup, my estimated $1500/month (before taxes) was considered above the poverty level by the government. And no, this wasn't 1989...but 2005. So this meant my business representative (I don't remember his exact title) had to get creative when it came to how my finances would go on record.
The Other Thing of Importance
While I waited, I'd meet with several people to help me put together a "package". It was one early Saturday morning when I met a marketing specialist who sat me down and said, "Tell me your story."
He repeated this with a brief explanation. I responded with a partial ramble about creating crafts with a message that reflected the third-wave feminist movement that was actually winding down. He nodded and just mumbled that he thinks where I can take things next.
Anyone looking for a grant should know storytelling basics, according to GrantWatch. If I had it to do all over again, I'd write my own narrative. To me, it was about more than a cute slogan but a movement that was more substantial than what the Spice Girls said years before. Who else can better talk about your vision than you?
The Power of Storytelling and Research
I'd later learn basic storytelling skills come in handy when creating a business plan, press releases, and other publicity tools. You can also edit this content for social media or another micro document. If you think in terms of an elevator pitch, you'll come up with several compelling versions of your story and why your product or idea matters.
Below are a couple of trustworthy links that I've used in the past. Hopefully, you'll benefit in some form if using an SBDC isn't for you.