As entrepreneurs, we have a lot of ideas that we want to get started on right away. We live with an ambition of wanting to do it all, but reality can hit when we realize that we really need the funds to start fueling our vision. Of course, nothing is achieved without investing in it first, and that starts with time and money. If at first you might feel discouraged that getting funding for your business isn’t feasible for lack of capital, or you just don’t know where to start, the best place to start is by applying to grants.
We’ve already talked to you about how to write a killer proposal for a grant - now it’s time to put those skills to work. Below we’ve gathered some of the grants you can start applying to now to bring your vision to life.
We know Eileen Fisher for the amazing label that she started with only $350 and a vision. Aside from creating a line with signature pieces the are created for creatures of comfort, Eileen’s has shared her passion for creating a thriving business with other female entrepreneurs with her Women-Owned Business Grant Program.
The program awards five grants annually to businesses that are 100 percent female-owned and share the founding principles of social consciousness, sustainability and innovation, plus are ready to move into the next phase of development.
FedEx wants you to hear your elevator pitch, and they want you to think outside of the shipping box. With their Think Bigger Small Business Grant, they annually award 10 winners, along with one grand prize winner who $25,000. Just give them a short profile about your business, and record your elevator pitch to them, and enter! (2017 grant to be announced soon.)
This is one of the many grants created by the U.S. Small Business Administration, however, in 2015 they introduced The InnovateHER Challenge which recognized female entrepreneurs that are creating business that are critical to the booming economy, regardless of what field they’re in. This grant provides an opportunity for female entrepreneurs throughout the U.S. to showcase products and services that have an immeasurable impact on the lives of women and families (30%), have the potential for commercialization (40%), and fill a need in the marketplace (30%). Six winners are awarded, and the first place winner is awarded $15,000 for their small business.
For nearly 20 years, The Amber Grant Foundation has been awarding women who are looking to fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams. Every month, they award Qualifying Grants $500 as selected by their WomensNet judges, and one of their 12 monthly qualification winners are awarded $1,000 at the end of each year. Also, voting for grants are open to the public, so you can encourage people in your network and shareholders to vote for you to help you win their monthly grants!
While there are many federal and nationwide grants that you can apply to, you can also tap into the local grants that are much more niche. The U.S. Small Business Administration has many local grants that are listed in their database based on your city and state that you can apply to now.
Every state and many local governments have economic development agencies dedicated to assisting new and established businesses to start, grow and succeed. Services provided by these agencies typically include start-up advice, training and resources, financial assistance with loans, grants and tax-exempt bonds, business location and site selection assistance, employee recruitment and training assistance and a lot more to ensure that your small business thrives. You can search your city or state to see what agencies are offered in your area.
If you are a starting a business in STEM are want to find a grant that strictly tied to your cause, then the Womensphere Venture Incubator is created for you. Although this is not a grant, this is one of the many resources for your business that you can invest your time and money in that will ultimately let your business grow.