So, you are a single mom and you have a great idea for starting your own business. That’s wonderful, this country desperately needs more small business to provide competition for the huge corporations. You’ve done your research, you have a solid business plan and a unique product. But how are you going to pay to start your business?
After all, starting a business isn’t cheap, and your savings are umm, let’s say not quite sufficient for your goal. That’s perfect, because there are several financing options to help you start your business. A a matter of fact, there are certain funds that are ONLY available to female owned businesses.
The U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration, or the SBA, has been in existence since 1953. Their primary goals include helping Americans to start, develop, and maintain small businesses. They partner with a variety of public and private organizations to provide their assistance. You may not know that you are more likely to receive funding from your state, than you will from the federal government. Federal grants are harder to get, smaller in number, and tend to be claimed quickly.
The SBA offers particular assistance to woman, especially if they are low-income or socially disadvantaged. They handle training and counseling for new and future business owners, but you will NOT be able to able to get grants from them. They do handle some loans, but of course, you would be responsible for paying them back. If you would like to see how you could benefit from their help, their website can be found at http://www.sba.gov/index.html. It is also quite common for the SBA to know about smaller grants that you cannot find elsewhere.
National SCORE Association
SCORE is a non-profit agency that is staffed by volunteers, and has been in existence since 1964.
1) Business Counseling Services
2) Advice To Future Business Owners
4) Special Services
You might want to keep in mind that SCORE does not provide loans, but is able to guarantee a few loans each year to qualified individuals. You must already be approved for a loan from an SBA approved bank. In order for that to happen, you will need a solid, business plan, as well as an EIN. If you do not have, or are unsure about either one of those, you may be able to benefit from their counseling services, which are available for free through email anywhere in the United States.
Yes, But Where Are We Hiding The Free Money?
Loans and counseling services are great, but we all want to know where to sign up for a grant. Well, it’s really NOT that simple. If it were, well, everyone would run their own business, wouldn’t they? Depending on what type of business or service you will be starting, you may be able to easily find funding, or you may have to take some time. The first place to look is: http://www07.grants.gov/aboutgrants/eligibility.jsp, and then you may need to wander around that site for awhile. It is important to know that many people are applying for the same type of grants that you are each day, so there is no guarantee that you will get it. If you do, it probably will not be right away, so you will need to apply as early as possible, for as many grants as it is feasible to do so.
If you don’t see the category that you need, there may be additional help for you here: http://www.womensbusinessgrants.com/grantsforwomen.shtml
Here, the grants that are currently available for women are broken down by state. Many grants that are administered by the state, regardless of the reason, will carry certain qualifications. You may have to have lived in the state, or even a certain part of the state, for a period of time. I’ve recently spoken to someone who had to prove that she had been a registered voter for the past five years in order to qualify for a grant for her beauty salon.
Another listing of grants, this time alphabetically, can be found here: http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Benefits.shtml. You will see that there are many other types of grants here, but it is a good way to see if there are any other types of grants that could be applied to your situation.
Tips For Getting Your Request For Grant Money Approved
1) As silly as it might seem, make sure that you fill out the application entirely. Many applications are rejected each year, simply because the applications are incomplete. The extension of this would be that an incomplete application represents a sloppiness that might also cross over to how you would run your business, and spend your grants money.
2) Make sure that you have a complete, updated business plan before you apply for your grant. You may not need it right away, but if you do, it will look awful if you don’t have it.
3) Determine what residency status is a pre-requisite of the grants that you are interested. Many grants can be given only to legal U.S citizens, a few to legal immigrants, and a very, very small amount for illegal aliens. You don’t want to waste your time if the grant was meant for someone else to be eligible for.
4) Check, double-check, and triple-check the deadline. Regardless of how amazing your business idea is, how well-qualified you are, and how memorable your application is, you will not be approved if it is late. Remember to allow lots of time for the mail to get it to where it’s going, or you could consider paying extra for faster delivery.
5) Being able to prove that you have planned for your business. That may include insurance, employees,building locations, and that you are able to verify to the grants committee that you are good with money. A frightening number of new businesses fail the first year, and one of the most common reasons is financial difficulty. You will need to establish that that will not be you, and that you will not waste the grants money.
6) Be professional, both in writing and in person, and show that you have a clear understanding of what your grant money will be used for. Read and re-read the grant information, but if you still don’t understand it, see if there is contact information for someone who is in charge of the funds.
7) Be completely honest on the application. Even a small exaggeration could seem like you are trying to lie to the committee, and could eliminate you from any consideration, ever from that committee or person.
Starting a business is one of the things that many Americans aspire to. There is funding, and guidance, and even loans available to help you. You can be your own boss, make your own hours, and answer to no-one, and you just have to arrange the right kind of financing.