Are you a female entrepreneur planning to expand? If YES, here is a complete guide getting small business grants for women from government or other organizations.
Everyone is affected by the economic crunch. Even businesses are hit by the market slump. If cash is hard, how can you run a business? One option is to get a small business loan from a financing institution. It is good if you are a man. If you are a woman, you will find out that it is tougher to get a business loan. So to make the process easier for you, below are three truths you must know before applying for a small business grant for women.
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3 Harsh Truths You Must Know about Small Business Grants for Women
Truth no. 1: Whether you like it or not there still is a “silent” discrimination between man and woman. The norm still exist that the men are more capable of running businesses than women, so these institutions would rather deal with men. To be able to get a loan from them, you need to prove your capability as an entrepreneur. How can you do that if you are still in the stage of growing your business? This is where small business grants for women will come in.
So you start searching for small business grants for women starting a business. Basically the first place you look for is the government’s financial support. You browse through their site and search through their list of grants. Upon seeing one that might suite your business, you click through the requirements. Then the next reality will hit you.
Truth no. 2: The government does not have any small business grants for women starting a business. Instead of helping you out of your predicament, they offer business establishment support in the form of references and trainings. Then they point you to other sites and the process goes on and on until you get exhausted and give up.
Then you look to foundations, non-government organizations, associations, women’s groups and others. Very seldom do you see them giving small business grants for women starting a business. What they offer are business loans.
You may find small business grants for women starting a business among their programs but they never give grants to individuals. They give grants to groups of women or organized groups of women. One site even suggested that to be able to get small business grants for women for women starting a business, you have to pay a grant research company to gain access to their database.
Doing business is already hard. Finding financial support makes it harder. Assuming that you got a small business grant for women from the sector that supports women entrepreneurs the next reality will hit you.
Truth no. 3: You have to work doubly hard to ensure that the trust they gave will be worth it; so that next time, it will be easier for you to get subsequent assistance. Now that you have the fighting chance, you have to make things work for your business. To make it work, sacrifices have to be made. You need to upgrade your entrepreneurial skills set.
If you are a mom, you need to learn to balance your time between business and your family. You can do this by replicating yourself. Look for a person who can support you and train that person to take on some of your responsibilities. In that way you can free up your time to spend for your family. Always remember that you cannot succeed on your own. Success is always a team effort.
You need to prepare a lot if you plan to get small business grants for women starting a small business from non-government organizations, foundations, associations and like institutions. You can refer to the following checklist on what to do and what you need:
How to Apply and Get Small Business Grants for women
1. Put down in writing what you will need and how much it will cost to accomplish your expansion project.
2. Do your research. Make a list of all possible institutions extending small business grants for women starting a small business; that you can apply to for your funding needs.
3. Learn every details about the small business grants institutions you listed. Each institution has specific mandate on how to award their grants. Each will have a different implementing guideline, process and documentary requirements.
You have to take note of these details to avoid delays in the processing of your application. Making a comparative matrix of these data will help you get all the necessary details you will need. This matrix will also guide you if ever you need to contact these institutions for further inquiries you may have.
4. From your matrix, make a shortlist of the small business grants for women institutions you are qualified to apply to. If ever your qualification is unclear, you can always call them and ask for further information.
5. There will be documents that need to be accomplished to avail of your small business grants for women. Downloadable forms can be found on the institutions’ websites. If ever there are none, you need to ask for these forms from your shortlisted institutions.
6. You need to prepare the following documents for your business: your latest audited financial report; a copy of your business profile; if you have an annual report, it will help a lot and your detailed business proposal which includes your project feasibility study. Others may ask for your business registration documents, so you might as well prepare these too.
7. Avoid wasting your resources. Submit small business grants for women proposals only to those institutions which you are qualified for. Applications can be submitted online or mailed to their offices.
8. Follow up your applications regularly. It will be best if you post a list of the contact persons you need to deal with regarding your application.
More Tips for Getting Small Business Grants for Women
Now most of the institutions giving small business grants for women only award grants to organized groups. Research on possible organizations in your area that you can network with; and join the organization that will best suit your business needs. Discuss your business proposal with them to encourage them to do the project with you. It will not only help your business but help other women as well.
Your network group can also be a good source of information for possible angel investors. Develop a good relationship with them, so you will not have any problems asking for possible leads. Your network group can also help you raise the funds that you need for your business. They can help you set up garage sales, bazaars and other fund raising activities. You can return the favor by participating in their endeavors as well.
Writing your Small Business Grants Proposal
Different institutions giving government business grants for women have different formats when it comes to grant proposals because their focus may require looking at your project from different perspectives. Some have their own proposal formats.
Make sure you download the document from their site. It includes guidelines on how to fill out the forms. If they don’t follow any format you can use the general format composed of two main sections: the write up and the financials. The write up has the following sections:
The write up section
- Cover or Title Page: contains the basic information regarding the proposal such as the project title and the basic details of your company.
- Abstract: contains the half page executive summary and conclusion of the project or the first impression that the business grant for women institutions will have; which can affect their decision whether to approve or deny your proposal.
- Background or Introduction: contains how the project came about and why it is needed.
- Goals and Objectives: states how the project plans to address the need for it.
- Beneficiaries: explains who will directly and indirectly benefit from the project.
- Expected Outputs: contains details of what the project plans to accomplish and how it will be measured.
- Work Plan/Time Table: contains the detailed activity to be done to accomplish the outputs and the corresponding schedule when it will be done.
- Budget: contains the breakdown of how the fund will be used.
- Company Profile: contains details about the company, its accomplishments, its strengths, and its performance.
The financials section contains the following data:
- Projected Capital Expenditure: detailing the budget use and the schedule of its acquisition.
- Projected Cash Flow Statement: reflects the movement of cash on the business cycle including the infusion of the grant fund.
- Projected Financial Statement: also known as the profit and loss statements; details the income generating potential of the project, it also indicates profitability and sustainability.
- Projected Balance Sheet: reflects the projected snap shot of the business (assets, liabilities and net worth).
- List of Assumptions: contains the details on how the figures are computed.
- Financial and Sensitivity Analysis: contains profitability ratios and potential financial vulnerabilities telling the business grants for women institutions if it is worthwhile to invest the money in the project or not.
6 Do’s and Don’ts for Writing a Business Grant Proposal
1. Proofread your proposal very carefully. Typos and wrong grammars create the impression of sloppiness and earn you negative points to the small business grants for women approvers.
2. Make your proposal look as professional as possible. Put images if it is necessary to drive a point. Unnecessary pictures and designs convey immaturity. It is a negative on the credibility of the business owner.
3. Do make your discussions brief and meaty. Put only what is necessary. The shorter the better because most of the approvers do not have time to sit on a novel type proposal. However, essential content should not be sacrificed in the process.
4. Make the proposal as simple as possible. Present graphs and tables in discussing figures. Graphs are easier to digest than numbers so the small business grants for women approvers will appreciate it better. Just make sure that your graphs are professionally made.
5. You must ensure that your financials are consistent and all statements are connected. The projected cash flow statement flows to the projected income statement and the projected balance sheet. Any inconsistency is a disaster and will merit disapproval from the business grants for women approvers.
6. You must make sure that the figures in the main body are consistent with the financials. The financials are the quantitative support of your proposal. Both should be speaking from the same page.
And finally, the government business grant proposal is like a sales letter to a potential investor. Only a great letter and presentation can bring home the bacon. This is your shot for your business, so make every effort count.
In conclusion, it may be hard work to source out funds for your business expansion particularly small business grants for women starting a small business. But with the right information and a good team of people who will support you, nothing is impossible. The only question is: are you up to the challenge?