The guide to applying for small business grants

Starting up

9 November 2017

From looming deadlines to illustrating how your business meets specific criteria, applying for small business grants comes with its own set of time-consuming and stress-inducing obstacles.

However, a good dose of determination, research and organisation can help make the application process seem much less insurmountable.

Here, we share some simple steps you can take to help keep your stress levels to a minimum during a grant application process and potentially maximise your chances of securing funds to help your business flourish.

1. Be organised

Planning is everything when it comes to attempting to secure additional funding for your business. By laying the groundwork, you’ll get a better idea of exactly what you’re looking to achieve with this additional money and how it could help develop your business. 

2. Get in touch

Interested in applying for a specific grant? Get in touch with the grant awarding body to discuss your chances of making a successful application and to chat over any aspects of the application processes you’re not too sure about.

3. The early bird catches the worm

Being quick off the mark could act in your favour. Some grants can have a limited amount of funds available, so submitting early could raise your chances of securing additional funding for your business.

4. Perfect your business plan

Grant awarding bodies will most likely want to see extensive business plans regarding how your business could develop if you’re successful in attaining the grant. The more in-depth the information you provide is, the easier it could be for grant-awarding bodies to see how they could help you. You understand your business aims inside out, so spend time showing how the funding could augment your strategy and impact your business for the better.

5. Get to grips with grant objectives

It’s important when completing your application for your chosen grant that you show how your business meets the specific qualifying criteria that the grant awarding body is looking for. Take time to learn why the grant is being awarded so that you can tailor your application accordingly.

6. Illustrate how you’ll use the grant

This goes hand in hand with the above points. Highlight in your application how the grant will help grow your business (whether it’s being used to purchase new equipment or upskill staff) and how these developments will benefit your service and market.

7. The larger the grant, the trickier the application

A general rule of thumb is that the greater the grant funding award, the more complicated the eligibility and application process will be. As such, plan your time accordingly so that you can devote plenty of time to your application.

8. If at first you don’t succeed: try, try again

Don’t be disheartened if you’re unsuccessful! You’re your business’s biggest champion, so even if you don’t get the grant you had your sights set on, dust yourself off, ask for feedback and continue to apply for small business grants to help turn your business dreams into a reality. Some of the world’s biggest companies have struggled to clinch funding, but by staying sure of their products, goals and ambitions, they’ve went on to achieve huge success.

Attaining a grant could give your business the boost it needs, but securing funding involves preparation, thorough investigation and a tenacious spirit. If you’ve spotted a grant that you think your business could benefit from, communication is key. Get in touch with the awarding body and seek professional advice to help steer your application and increase your chances.

And if you’re unsuccessful, don’t be disheartened. Ask for feedback, keep an eye on GRANTfinder and apply these lessons to new grant opportunities that could help your business work harder, better, faster and stronger. 

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*Based on AXA business and shop insurance policies as of June 2017. 'Start up business' defined as being less than three years old.