How to Access Grants and Funding Programs for Women-Led Businesses
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Over the past several decades, women have made great strides in the world of business. Women currently own four out of ten businesses in the United States. Hundreds of women continue to launch new businesses every day, slightly more often than men! And while starting a business is a popular move among women, it’s far from easy. Women-led businesses receive significantly less investment capital than those owned by men, despite the fact that they
return more than twice as much per dollar invested.
Thankfully, women have access to alternative funding options that can offset the gender investment gap. From federal programs to private economic development agencies, here’s how you can access grants to get your startup off the ground.
Determine Your Funding Needs
When you apply for grants, you need to describe exactly what you are funding and how much it will cost. Do you need capital to hire and train employees? Purchase equipment? Conduct market research? Develop your product? It’s important to have a clear picture of your business’s financial standing before applying for grants so you know how much money to request.
Use reliable accounting tools to keep your business finances organized as you search for grant opportunities. Look for an accounting solution that includes integrated payroll processing to make your life even easier. A good payroll system should include time tracking technology and real-time reporting. Need mobile tracking? No problem. Payroll apps like QuickBooks Time enable time tracking on the go! Tools like these will offer invaluable insight into the financial well-being of your business and help you make the best possible funding decisions.
Avoid Common Misconceptions About Grants
Make sure you have the correct information before moving forward with your grant application plans. GrantWatch explains that people hold several misconceptions about grants. For example, many people think that a grant is like a loan in that it must be paid back at some point. While you won’t have to pay back your grant money, you will have to spend it on the specific projects that you detailed in your grant proposal.
Evaluate Your Grant Opportunities
When looking for grants, be sure to search federal, state, local, and private agencies for opportunities. You can find women-specific grants through all of these sources. Searching around online is a good place to start! Don’t limit your search to grants listed for women entrepreneurs. You may be eligible for several other grants depending on your business model, what you hope to achieve with your project, and the target audience you serve.
When you find a grant that sounds like it aligns with your business and your funding needs, take the time to evaluate the grant and the foundation it’s coming from. Peak Proposals recommends reviewing the foundation’s funding history to determine the types of businesses they have funded in the past. Be sure to also research the foundation’s reporting requirements, areas of interest, and their average grant amounts.
Write a Top-Notch Grant Application
When it comes to writing your grant application, it pays to take your time. Some applications take weeks to write! The more work you put into your application, the better your chance of receiving the grant you’re after. Be sure to proofread everything carefully! Send your application off to a mentor and ask them for feedback on the logical flow of your application as well as the organization of your narrative sections. It’s also a good idea to maintain a checklist of information, forms, attachments, and formatting requirements requested by the founder, so you don’t leave anything out of your finished application.
Consider the Benefits of a New Degree
If starting a business carries too many risks or uncertainties right now, a great alternative is returning to school. Many women go back to school in an effort to advance their career choices. In addition to grants and scholarships, there are numerous low-cost programs you can attend with flexible scheduling. Whether your goal is to become an IT professional or to expand your reach in the medical field, chances are there is a program that will work for you. Plus, a new career trajectory could put you on the eventual path of entrepreneurship.
If you’re struggling to get funding for your startup, you’re not alone. The hope is that one day, women will have an equal opportunity to obtain funding from investors to pursue their entrepreneurial passions. Until that day comes, small business grants will help fill the funding gap and ensure women-led businesses have access to the capital they need!
by Alice Robertson
Alice is a blogger
Photo Credit: pexels