Looking to get funding for your new business? Worried about taking on too much debt? Business grants may be a good option for your financing.

Applying for Business Grants

Starting a new business can be challenging. Only about half of new businesses survive for five years, and only a third remain in operation after 10 years. In spite of this, some businesses will flourish, and a very small amount will even become legendary – like Microsoft or Apple. According to the Ewing Marion Kauffmann Foundation, they estimated the average cost of starting a new small business in the U.S. to be about $30,000 in 2009. To estimate what it will cost to launch your business, search online for an startup cost calculator as a place to start. The number will probably seem shockingly high, but fortunately, today’s business owners have a wide range of options when it comes to financing their business ideas.

In order to get your business off the ground, you may have considered taking out a loan or opening a credit card. Both of those options, however, require you to pay back what you borrowed. A business loan will have specific eligibility requirements, and business credit cards often have high interest rates.

Another option worth exploring is business grants. Although there may not be a ton of grants available, and they are often very competitive, business grants could provide the startup funding you need to be successful. Grants are non-repayable funds, often given by a government department, corporation, foundation or trust, to a nonprofit entity, educational institution, business or individual.

Every business grant is unique and has its own set of requirements, but here are a few general tips to help you find a grant that is the best fit for your business:

Research first: There are many relevant industry blogs and online resources to find grants that could be a good fit for your business. Another great way to learn about funding options is through networking; attend a small business conference and talk with peers in the industry.

Eligibility Matters: Most grants have specific eligibility requirements. Some rules relate to demographic, education level, the age of your business, and other factors. Be sure to pay attention to each requirement so that you do not waste time applying for a grant that doesn’t end up being the right fit.

Apply, apply, apply! Because it is competitive out there, it can be a bit of a numbers game, but applying to as many applicable grant opportunities will only help your chances. And the payoff if you are awarded will be worth it!

There are organizations and resources that exist to help you start or expand your business. Visit your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) office to learn more about funding opportunities and how to apply. These organizations are plugged into the local financing community and will be able to guide you along the way.