Do you want to start a grant writing service? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a grant writing service business with NO money and no experience.
Grant writing simply means the process of completing an application exercise for funding given by an institution such as a government department, corporation, foundation or trust. Note that such application processes are most times referred to as either grant “proposals” or “submissions.”
Also note that successful grant writing needs a clear understanding of grantsmanship. Every year, the amount of grants made by corporations, foundations and government agencies climb higher; so does the number of businesses hoping to finance their start-ups, innovations and expansion dreams.
And since a lot of entrepreneurs do not have the talent to navigate the grant application process themselves, the need for professional grant writers is also soaring.
This is the reason why if you have the necessary skills and disposition, beginning a grant writing consulting business can be both personally and financially rewarding. When planning to start this business, you need to start first by conducting a personality and skills inventory on yourself to know whether you are suited to be a grant writer.
In this business, you need specific talents that enable you deal with the difficulties and stresses of being your own boss. If you have the talent for resource management, research, communication, sales and administrative skills, as well as the determination and confidence to run your own company, then you may be suited for grant writing.
Steps to Starting a Grant Writing Business
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
- 18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
- 19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
First and foremost, it is very important to state that grant writers research, draft and submit proposals that help organizations or individuals receive grant funding. We believe that to be eligible for funding, an organization or individual must have an objective that aligns with a grant’s specifications. A lot of grant writers work for non-profit or charitable organizations.
Others are self-employed and take on projects from a variety of sources such as museums and schools. But irrespective of whom they work for, most of these writers research grants, write proposals, and have other tasks.
Note that to find available funding, grant writers identify grants that match the objective of the organization or individual seeking money. They often scour detailed lists, databases, and donor websites. Have it in mind that part of researching grants is determining which ones are not worth pursuing.
Note that grant proposals often need a variety of documents such as a cover letter, project narrative and supporting information which might include things like letters of endorsement from members of the community. We believe that it is through these documents that grant writers explain why a cause is important and how the funds will be used.
For instance, grant writers might describe the past, present, and planned activities of the grant-seeking individual or organization. During the process of drafting the proposal, writers must follow the grant’s guidelines such as making sure that the organization meets eligibility requirements, and provide a budget that shows how the grant money would be spent.
Have it in mind that bringing all of these elements into a successful proposal takes time and expertise—especially when there are hundreds, sometimes thousands of organizations competing for the same funds.
Other tasks for a grant writer may include responding to funders’ questions about a proposal, developing relationships with prospective donors, and documenting a grant’s impact at the conclusion of a project. A lot of grant writers have other roles within their organization.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
You should understand that the owner of a grant writing business must be adept at finding foundations, government entities and other funding sources and applying for funding on behalf of their non-profit clients. Note that you will, in short, serve as a matchmaker, putting together funding sources and needs.
It is your job to continually seek grant opportunities and write succinctly, persuasively and in an organized manner while filling out requests for proposals (RFP) to win funding. This is why we believe that your talents will involve business writing and a clear understanding of the non-profit and funding worlds.
While doing this business, you must be able to take direction well because each RFP to which you respond needs clear and direct answers and attention to such details as word or page count, writing style and, on occasion, even font and type size regulations.
We believe that it also aids if you currently volunteer, or have done so in the past, with non-profit organizations, or can network comfortably within that environment. This is because you will want to come in contact with decision makers at non-profit, community and civic organizations, and occasionally even for-profit entities and others seeking to raise funds through grants.
Even when a lot of grant writers search for clients of all kinds, others focus on a preferred type. That might be organizations working to treat specific medical conditions or to advance a political or civic objective, or perhaps non-profits based within your geographic region. This brings us to the fact that you need to choose a business niche.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
When starting this business, you need to start by defining your market niche by choosing what type of grants you want to write. Indeed you might decide to focus on small business development grants, a single geographic location, or only grants for non-profit or charitable organizations.
But no matter your focus, it is usually best if you have some passion for the area or industry you are seeking to serve. This is because when the stresses of the job rise, the commitment you have to your business focus (or market niche) will keep you moving forward.
Have it in mind that by building a niche, you can more easily market to a target audience. If, for example you are writing for a non profit, you will quickly find that marketing your services is very difficult, as that is a huge audience. But if you find that you really like working with small or rural non profits, there are fewer of those.
If you only work with rural nonprofits working on educational issues, that gives you an even narrower focus for marketing. And, think of it this way, the more you are focused in your market, the less competition you will have for that business.
For you to be able to choose your niche, you have to decide what type of grants you like to write. Maybe you like federal grants which tend to be very complex, or maybe your experience has been in the arts, and you like to write grants to support artistic groups.
But immediately you have written a few grants, you will start to get an idea of which direction you want to go, and then you can refine that niche as you work on more grants and with more clients.
The Level of Competition in the Industry
In this modern age, a lot of people are researching how to supplement their income, or replace their day job altogether by writing grants. This is why if you have the gift of writing, it can truly change your life. If you are thinking about taking the plunge, you can do it.
But you need to know that the there are two major pre-requisites one should have before marketing his or herself as an accomplished grant writer. There are having:
- a track record of successful grant proposals; and
- Non-profit knowledge and experience
We believe that a lot of individuals out there are touting themselves as professional grant writers, but they have little or no field experience. Just because they are confident in their writing ability, or have a background in technical writing, they think they can easily make the transition.
Grant writing and technical writing are very different. Indeed grant writing is similar to technical writing in that you are gathering information about various subject matters. But as a grant writer, you may have one client or multiple clients with varying missions and programs.
Having a technical writing background will allow you to write about numerous subject matters with ease, but still note that grant writing is dissimilar to technical writing in that it is an emotional appeal. You need to be able to combine the technical side of the argument with the emotional side.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
All over the globe, there are brands that go way ahead of others. These brands are known as the key players in the industry. Here is a list of well-known brands in the grant writing business;
- Faith based funding
- Forward thinking group Inc.
- Grant alerts
- Resource Development Associates
- Proposal writers
- Full Funding Services, Inc.
- Grant experts
- Rozen consulting
- Rochester Grant writers
In this business, you will generate revenue by charging clients a per-hour or flat rate for your various services. Also as you win grants and your reputation grows, more businesses will come in and you can increase your hourly or project rates.
Have it in mind that the more clients you add to your roster, the more income you generate. Even though all grant requests are a longshot since so many nonprofits are striving for the same funding, but grant writers who are recognized as being particularly successful are best positioned to win new business.
It is for this reason that it is necessary to publicize your wins through social media and self-marketing opportunities. Also we believe that as your business grows, you can consider hiring additional writers or others who are networked into the non-profit or funding communities to aid you generate additional clients or grant making sources.
Experts in the industry have estimated that in-house grant writers earn an average annual income of about $45,000. You should use this as only a starting point because those who work on their own have more control over their income.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
We believe that franchising is one of the surest ways of owning a business and becoming your own boss. Its brand affinity, trusted product line and corporate support are essential features if you want to make a name and fortune in the Grant writing business. Buying into a franchise in the Grant writing business grants you some major advantages like;
- Following a Proven Business system
- You know exactly what you are getting
- You’ll Be Selling an Established Brand
But if you decide to start this business from the scratch, you will need to build your contacts from the ground up. Note that one way is to approach institutional grant writers in your area.
School districts, city and county governments, community colleges and four-year colleges/universities, and large non-profits often have someone on staff with the full- or part-time job of developing grant proposals for their institutions. (Large universities may have one of these persons in each of the colleges at the university.)
Even though these people are employed by their institutions to write grants, they may occasionally need contract help and/or know of other agencies looking for a grant writer.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
Starting and managing a Grant writing business is not difficult but have few challenges just like any other business. Note that these few challenges may be unforeseen bridges or just mere steps you need to take to start your business.
But you need to understand that the Grant writing business is a lucrative business not just for today but in the future too. This is why before you start your Grant writing business, we advise that you strive to be aware of some of the challenges Grant writing companies face among which is fraud and identity theft.
This is why you need to go into the business armed with the necessary information and techniques to prevent such problems and tackle them whenever they occur. Some other challenges may include;
- Studying existing Grant writing businesses
- Choosing your niche market
- Establishing a relationship with as many banks and financial institutions
- Familiarizing yourself with the products you need to buy to provide Grant writing services
- Establishing relationships with other grant writers
- Setting prices for your service
- Hiring competent staff
- Registering your business
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
It is very important to state that starting a business (at home or on the side) is the dream of every entrepreneur, but at some point, for you to actually own a business, you will need to decide whether you will operate as a sole proprietorship/partnership, C-corporation, S-corporation, LLC, or – in some cases – non-profit. We believe that the best legal entities for a Grant writing business would be the LLC and the General partnership.
Consultation with an attorney to determine the best entity is recommended. These two legal entities allow greater space for decision making, support, creativity, flexibility and save or limit your properties from any debt incurred by the company.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
If you want to be a force to be reckoned with in the grant writing industry, then should look at acquiring a business name that would be attractive to all and sundry. Here is a list to choose from;
- Dream services
- Fortune solution
- Wall Street grants
- Victoria Standard
- Hope and grant services
- Blue whale services
- Legal Grant writings
- Blank page ink
- Gold Grant
- Pure slate Ltd
- Fortune tellers
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
A lot of entrepreneurs seem to think that business insurance is a luxury they cannot afford, or is an expense for more established businesses. Indeed business insurance can be expensive, but it is an expense every business, regardless of the industry, size or length of time in existence, needs to include in its budget.
We believe that insurance has evolved as a process of safeguarding the interest of people from loss and uncertainty even if your business is to protect people’s interest like the Grant writing business. A lot of individuals have described it as a social device to reduce or eliminate risk of loss to life and property.
Your best bet is to get insurance coverage for yourself and the business. An insurance agent can help you consider the many forms of coverage, as well as the minimum coverages you should carry. Many clients may not require insurance, but some will, and some will require more than the minimum.
- General Liability Insurance
- Property insurance
- Errors and omissions insurance
- Business owner’s policy
- Workers’ compensation insurance
- Cyber liability insurance
- Umbrella liability insurance
- Commercial auto/hired & non-owned auto insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
You need to understand the intellectual property is an aspect of law that deals with protecting the rights and ownership of those who create original works. Note that it covers everything from original plays and novels to inventions and company identification marks.
The purpose of intellectual property laws is to encourage new technologies, artistic expressions and inventions while promoting economic growth. Which is why if you have a great idea, logo, business name, or even an invention, you need to protect it. Ways to protect your Grant writing business intellectual property may include;
- Know what you have
- Make it a priority
- Give it a name
- Protect it
- Educate your staff
- Know your tools
- Think competition
- Apply a counter-intelligence mind set
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
It is very important to state that professional certifications are indeed another way to improve your skill set, and be recognized for your accomplishments. In a world of brand affinity and marketing, any advantage that helps in landing a client is worth the effort.
- SDSU professional certification
- Certified Grant Writer®
- Grant Professionals Certification Institute (GPCI)SM
- Principles of Grant Development and Proposal Writing Certificate
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- Sales tax permit
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Client agreement
- Business license
- Employment agreement
- Nondisclosure agreement
- Memorandum of understanding
Some states may need you to apply for a specific license that allows you to operate a Grant writing company. Check with your state department of licensing and regulation.
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Almost every business known to mankind need outside funding, but a lot of entrepreneurs don’t know where to find it, or how much to ask for.
Be it that you need loans, small business grants, angel investors, venture capital, crowdfunding, or investments from friends and family, you can greatly improve your chances of securing business capital. Ways of financing your Grant writing business may include;
- Personal savings
- Angel investor
- Venture Capital
- Loans and grants
- Alternative funding source like Crowdfunding
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
The earlier you understand that as a business owner that you have many issues to consider, the earlier you start taking care of them. These issues may include funding, staffing, developing a marketing strategy and ensuring that you have a viable product or service.
Before starting a business, there is one important decision that you must make: where to start the business. Most times in the business world, the location of the business is chosen based on what is sensed to be good for the entrepreneur, with little thought or regard to the location of the company.
While it is nice to think, “If I build it, they will come!” the reality is that the business that uses the motto, “If I build it where they are, they’ll come” may, in the end, be more successful.
It is very crucial to note that a lot of features will affect what makes a location suitable or not suitable for your Grant writing business, and a well-focused entrepreneur will examine those features carefully before deciding to move forward with a venture. A suitable location for your Grant writing business must have the following;
- Finance access
- Tax and legal incentives
- Office costs
- Staffing needs
- Social amenities
- Access to incubator programs
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
It is very crucial that you understand that one reason you need to network regularly is to meet other talented writers and insiders in the world of non-profits and funding sources. Also have it in mind that it is very much possible for you to expand gradually, as opportunity presents itself.
If, at first, you have an excess of work, consider contracting with freelance grant writers to undertake parts of the project. We strongly advice that when you see that your business is growing, you should consider part-time or full-time hires.
Also, know that you can also explore expansion through partnerships with other successful grant writers as a way to gain access to new client types or funding sources.
Over the long haul—running a business day in and day out, month after month, year after year— you will understand the need to have employees. As leader of such a team, quality should remain your principal responsibility and you should have some level of involvement and oversight in all grant writing projects.
Also, have it at the back of your mind that leading and managing a team of associates is as important as managing your clients. If you work with one or more associates, you want the best and you need to be prepared to give them your best.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
Indeed you need to ask yourself what services you will provide to generate income and profit. Grant writing only? Or more?
Funding searches and advising, evaluation, training, and non-profit consulting are all related to grant writing. Your strengths and experience—and those of your team—will determine what services you want to offer. Here are four services you can start with;
This service is tailored to the client who may want anything from a simple review of an already-written proposal to a complete proposal development, which can include reviewing the request for proposal, gathering information and data, developing content for each narrative section, assisting with program and evaluation design, identifying collaborating partners, and even helping with proposal submission.
You can develop an approach to proposal writing that can be used with any size grant from any type of funding entity—federal and state agencies, foundations, associations, and corporations.
It will aid you to frequently offer one- or two-day grant writing workshops geared to the level of participants (novice, beginner, intermediate, or advanced), and also discuss finding grant opportunities as well as managing the grant once it is awarded.
Looking for grants is like looking for a needle in a haystack. To narrow things down, you have to gather information from clients on what they need funding for, how much funding they want, the minimum they’ll accept for the effort of developing a proposal and managing an award, the number of hoops they’re willing to jump through to get funding, etc. Only then do we start researching databases and other sources.
Evaluation services include gathering and analysing program data, preferably with minimal burden on the project staff, and assembling any reports required by the funding agency. A good evaluator will help the client manage the grant program and position it for additional funding.
In this business, even though the principles and fundamentals of grantsmanship apply broadly, it is important for you to understand the target and to be able to adjust to the language appropriately. We believe that understanding the creation process of a grant proposal is a big part of the success in grant writing. The basic parts to the proposal creation process include:
- Analysing the intended audience for the proposal
- Analysing the purpose of the proposal
- Gathering information about the subject of the proposal
- Choosing the appropriate type of proposal (in this case, a grant proposal)
- Writing the proposal
- Formatting the proposal
- Revising, editing, and proof reading the proposal
- Submitting the proposal
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
We understand that it is a long, arduous process to find the perfect strategies for increasing your Grant writing business and making profits. If you want to increase your market share, finding the best methods to do so is essential, but often difficult.
After you know which strategy works best, it is important that you get them working for you as soon as possible. The marketing strategies below are proven ways to market a business successfully.
Before making strategic decisions, it is wise to conduct methodical and detailed risk analysis to avoid major financial disasters. Even rock-solid businesses could encounter issues if risk-taking goes wrong. Make sure to take every little chance to decrease your risk since large risks carry with them large potentials for ruin.
All important grant writing business decisions ought to be closely followed by a thorough risk analysis, so that every possible outcome is considered and the most appropriate choice is made to protect the business.
Building a new grant writing company is extremely challenging, despite if this is your first grant writing business or if you have done it many times before. You need to understand everything about the business you are about to start and about your competitors.
Devising well thought out strategies in the creation of a lucrative enterprise is smart and will benefit you. Do not underestimate the wealth of findings and examples you could locate from the World Wide Web. Grant writing business moguls agree that the most result effective way to become an industry leader is to learn as you earn.
Learning through doing is really the most effective way for mastering basic grant writing business principles. Although business books are popular, most do not provide any ground breaking information that you can’t obtain more effectively when you really do the work yourself.
Also to impress visitors and present a professional image, businesses need to construct breathtaking websites. Hire a popular website designer to create your website if you are not able to do it yourself. Your site’s success is dependent on quality content and attractive design and imagery.
You should never forget how important it is for you to get online so be certain that your grant writing business has a good presence online.
Often, if you extend the best possible client service to clients, you will see that it is enough to have them keep coming back to your business. It is very bad and detrimental if you do not have a stable policy on retaining and delighting your clients each time they arrive to your grant writing business because they are going to go elsewhere.
A sure fire way to keep clients, even if your business evolves into new areas, is to stay consistent with good client service. Your business foes will look for methods to get to your clients by offering promotional enticements and better performing inventory items. Going online to get additional tips could be a good idea.
17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
To be successful in this industry, a business must do a better job than its competitors by satisfying target consumers. This is a competitive advantage and it is about winning target customers and retaining them. For you to be able to gain competitive advantage over your competitors, the organization must first analyze and understand its internal and external environment. Ways of winning competitors in the said business may include;
- Listen to gossips
- Let the leads come to you
- Outsmart your competitors
- LinkedIn poaching
- Establish a relationship with as many banks and financial institutions as you can
- Choose a niche
18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
In the Grant writing business, the competition is based on getting and retaining customers. The customers who keep coming back to your business are your most valuable assets. The most loyal 15 percent of customers account for 55 to 70 percent of total sales.
Making sure they stay happy is the secret to a sustainable and highly profitable business. In other to retain your customers in your Grant writing business, you have to;
- Provide Exceptional Customer Service
- Use email marketing
- Ask the ultimate question
- Romance them
- Show off your strength
- Create a system for complaints
- Develop an Outstanding Product or Service
- Do small favours
19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
It is very important to state that brand affinity and awareness is the only way potential customers know who you are and what you do.
Without it, your business can toss its snazzy content marketing out the window. Successful brand awareness is more than simple name recognition. It also requires that consumers know what you do on the most basic level. Ways to increase customer retention include;
- Begin by creating a few reliable grant getting lead sources
- Pitch your clients
- Follow up with your customers
- Build a “pipeline” of prospects
- Good marketing