Starting a new business and investing

When you’re starting a new business and investing your time, energy, and often your own hard earned cash into it, the promise of “free” money often sounds enticing. Chances are that you’ve stumbled across at least a few advertisements promoting business grants to help you fund your venture. So what’s the deal with business grants? Are grants available? Are you or your business eligible?

The answer to these questions depends on many variables, so we’ll get to that in a moment. First, let’s start off by defining, in loose terms, what a government business grant is (or in some cases, is not). Federal business grants are funded by tax dollars. Because of that, grant eligibility and approval is a very tightly run ship.

Furthermore, government business grants are appropriated through, well, the government (specifically Congress and the White House). As such, many of these grants are closely aligned to the agendas of a specific government agency like the U.S. Department of Education or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

If it seems like receiving a business grant, specifically a government-funded one, is tricky. And it can be. Here are some general guidelines and requirements that the federal government uses to determine business grant eligibility:

Only non-commercial organizations (non-profits, educational institutions specializing in medicine, scientific research, education, technology, etc.) are eligible for government business grants.

 

Alternatives to Federal Small Business Grants

If your business doesn’t necessarily fit into the requirements listed above (many do not), there is still hope. State and local programs do exist, as do grant opportunities through other groups and organizations. For example, many large corporations offer grants through an affiliated foundation (i.e. Walmart Foundation Grants), as well as a number of networks that specialize in grants for women.

Additionally, businesses that can attribute to positive gains in local tourism, child care, and energy conservation, and healthy nutrition may also find grants to support their initiatives.