How to get a small business grant

No matter what type of business you start or run, you need to have enough cash on hand to cover the basics. And for that, you may want to get a small business grant. According to the Small Business Association (SBA), startup basics can include:

  • Office space
  • Equipment and supplies
  • Communications
  • Utilities
  • Licenses and permits
  • Insurance
  • Legal and accounting fees
  • Inventory
  • Employee salaries
  • Advertising and marketing efforts
  • Market research
  • Printed marketing materials
  • Website development
  • Potential unexpected expenses

Small Business Trends mentions that the most common ways entrepreneurs find that money are through personal funds (77% of the time), bank loans (34% of the time) or a combination of both.

However, there are other resources available to help your business get off the ground: small business grants.

What is a small business grant?

EA small business grant is money from the government or an organization that helps small companies and nonprofits either start or grow their business. While each grant has its own qualification criteria, the money is free and doesn’t need to be repaid.

Who qualifies for small business grants?

How do you get a small business grant? According to The Balance, organizational grants are available for many different industries, including:

  • Innovators
  • Green businesses
  • Rural businesses
  • Women, veteran or minority-owned businesses
  • Nonprofit organizations

On the other hand, government grants can be more rigid and generally can’t be used for starting a business, paying off debt or covering operational expenses. They tend to focus more on funding nonprofits or companies that are involved in areas such as technology, medical research or education.

Types of grants for small businesses

While the two main types of grants for small businesses are organizational and government, they break down into various areas that cover a wide range of businesses.

Federal small business grants

Federal grants come from the federal government. Some people can find the application process to be intimidating because of the amount of information it requires, but it’s worth the effort. Government agencies are among the biggest distributors of grants and support many enterprises, from environmental conservation to childcare services.

Some great places to find federal grants and other resources related to them include:

  • Grants.gov: A complete database of grants administered by various government agencies
  • Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs: Grant programs that focus on research and development for technology, innovation and scientific research
  • USA.gov: Provides resources for starting or growing a business

State and regional small business grants

Local government agencies also offer grants. The Economic Development Administration from the U.S. Department of Commerce agency provides resources to support economic growth, entrepreneurship and innovation in local communities. To find your local office, search the economic development directory.

Also, check out your local Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) since they’re often associated with local universities or your state’s economic development agency. They help connect business owners with financing opportunities, counseling, training and technical assistance.

Rural business development grants

Rural Business Development grants focus on businesses in rural areas that have fewer than 50 new workers and less than $1 million in gross revenue. Eligible applicants include:

  • Towns
  • Communities
  • State agencies
  • Authorities
  • Nonprofit corporations
  • Institutions of higher education
  • Federally recognized tribes
  • Rural cooperatives (if organized as a private nonprofit corporation)

Environmental Protection Agency grants

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants help businesses that focus on improving human health and/or the environment and gives out around $4 billion annually. Check out their website to see all the areas they cover.

Department of Education grants

The US Department of Education offers grants that can be used for scientific research, state education, special education and more:

  • Discretionary grants: Awarded using a competitive process
  • Student loans or grants: Help students attend college
  • Formula grants: Use formulas determined by Congress and have no application process

State Trade Expansion Programs

State Trade Expansion Programs (STEP) help small businesses export more product out of state.

Small business grants for women

Women-owned businesses can qualify for grants that are governed by the Office for Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO). These grants are designed to help women launch new businesses and compete in the marketplace in which their industry falls under.

Minority small businesses grants

To promote minority-owned small businesses, many public and private entities have focused portions of their grant money toward their continued growth. Contact a local Minority Business Development Agency business center to learn about financing resources, federal contracts and market opportunities.

Small business grants for veterans

The Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) uses all the available SBA programs so that veterans, service-disabled veterans, reservists, active-duty service members, transitioning service members and their dependents or survivors can also start new businesses. 

Learn more

There are many paths to starting your own venture. If you own a small business, you might qualify for a grant that can help get you off the ground.

Make sure to visit the Nationwide Business Solutions Center to find more resources on starting or running your business.

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