Does your life dream include starting and operating your own small business?
You will be able to take advantage of tax deductions, flexible working hours, and have an unlimited earning potential.
While this can be an exciting concept, it can come with a few challenges. You will have to learn how to manage your time, work harder than typical employees, learn all of the aspects of running a business of your own, and come up with enough funding to get your business off the ground.
The last challenge is perhaps the most difficult for many entrepreneurs, especially those with poor credit and little to no collateral for a small business loan.
Finding the funding you need to start your own business isn’t an impossible task, though, and can easily be accomplished through a variety of grants designed specifically for those starting small businesses.
The Small Business Administration (SBA)
The U.S. Small Business Administration is a government agency designed to support and assist entrepreneurs and business owners. The SBA has more than 900 development centers for business and 110 centers for women in business across the country.
These centers are often located at community colleges and universities and provide counseling and training to those who are starting their own small businesses.
Counseling and training is also available online, covering a variety of business topics, some of which are:
- Starting a small business
- Managing your business
- Obtaining funding for your small business
- Understanding contracting
- Preparing your finances
- Writing a business plan
While the SBA helps entrepreneurs gain funding through loans, they also assist businesses with obtaining grants. One of the most well known grants available thru the SBA is the Research and Development federal grant under the Small Business Technology Transfer program and the Small Business Innovation Research program. This grant helps small businesses that specialize in research and development.
The SBA doesn’t provide grants or grant programs to help start or expand businesses, but they can assist business owners in finding grants available to them from the government.
Small Business Grant Programs
If you want to start or expand your small business, but don’t have the credit for a loan, consider looking into the following grants.
- HP LIFE Grant Program - The HP Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs is a program designed to help individuals all over the world obtain the training they need to understand technology and improve their business skills. In 2011, each winner of this grant received HP technology, professional support, and a financial contribution. In general, these grants are given to colleges and small business centers, rather than individuals or small businesses themselves. Visit their website
- Pepsi Refresh Project – Pepsi offers a grant program for individuals and for-profit organizations who need funding to start or expand their business or project. To apply, applicants must visit the Pepsi Refresh Project website and create a profile page. In order to qualify for one of the grants, individuals must be over the age of 13 and U.S. residents. Grants range from $5,000 to $50,000.
- HSBC Business Growth Grant Competition – The HSBC offers two £50,000 grants for businesses who can demonstrate innovative ideas for growth within the UK. Another two £50,000 grants are also provided to businesses interested in expanding to overseas markets. The five most compelling applications will be selected to be viewed by a panel of judges, where only four will receive grants. Applications can be obtained on the HSBC website when the competition begins again during the latter part of 2012.
- Caleb Brown Community Business Grant – This venture capital firm provides small businesses and entrepreneurs with start up money for their new businesses. Applications can be found at www.calebbrownonline.com. Awards are up to $150,000.
- Dare to Dream Grant Program – Are you starting a child care business or business related to children? The Dare to Dream Grant Program provides funding for education curriculum, Bibles, toys, games, puzzles, indoor and outdoor equipment, computer for children, snack, and even personal hygiene products like shampoo and soap. Grant applications can be obtained here.
- DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) provides financial assistance to transportation agencies, both state and local, for development and improvement of highways, airways, and transit. When these agencies receive funding, they are required to give away a certain percentage of the funds to transportation-related small businesses that have qualified as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises. To qualify for this assistance, you’ll need to fill out an application with your state’s specific DOT. A regional list can be found at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Do you want to start or expand your own small business?
If you think you don’t have the resources, think again. There are several grants available to help budding entrepreneurs achieve their dreams.