What is a Small Business Grant?

Small business grants come to business owners from public and private sources. The federal government awards grants in a variety of categories for business owners. Small business grants do not provide funding towards starting new businesses, however. They focus on providing funding to a particular area of public interest. For example, a grant can go to a small business conducting research on a particular area of interest. However, that grant would not go towards the start up costs of getting that business off the ground. There are grant programs however to help some small business start-ups at the state and local levels. These often focus on developing businesses underrepresented in the area.

Recent published funding opportunities: (Last updated: 2022-09-24)


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For small businesses interested in small business grants, there are strict requirements as far as accounting and accountability. These grants are from taxpayer money. The government puts strict guidelines in place to ensure the grantee spends the money in the way they indicated on the grant application. The application process itself is daunting for many small business owners. The business must meet certain guidelines and have the ability to conduct the work. After the grant award, the business must provide ongoing proof of how they use the money and what results they get from the research conducted.

Who can apply? Eligibility Requirements

If you have an interest in applying for small business grants from the federal government, you need to qualify as a small business under the Small Business Administration guidelines. If the business qualifies, the next step in determining eligibility depends on the particular grant program in question. You can find a full listing of grants at Grants.gov. You can search the listings by category or by keywords. The list includes grants on research in many different categories including agriculture, transportation, energy, education, defense, and science to name just a few.

Small business grants have different requirements of those applying for the grant. To understand this, look at this example. The Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture provides grants for food safety research. This grant application is open to just about anyone. However, in order to qualify for this grant, you have to conduct project research into reducing food-borne illnesses with improved food safety. The grants go out based on the project proposal the small business puts together. A business that specializes in providing security guards is unlikely to qualify. A company that develops food safety equipment and products might just qualify.

How to apply for Small Business Grants?

To apply for small business grants, you will need to provide information to the government on how you intend to use the grant funds. But first, you need to find a grant that meets your abilities. When you go to Grants.gov, you can search on thousands of grant opportunities through their search engine. Some are open to small businesses while some are not. Go through the list of open grant opportunities and find one that meets your needs. Verify you meet the criteria for the grant and then get ready to put in your application.

After you locate the grant, register with the government's Central Contractor Registration office. You can also do this through the Grants.gov website. The government centralizes this function in order to streamline the process when possible. If your company does not already have a DUNS identifier, the website gives instructions on how to obtain one. If you already have that identifier, you can go ahead and submit your registration with the CCR. You will need to provide information on your organization and the main contact within the organization.

You will need to download the online application form for the grant next. Each grant has a different application package. It is important to make sure you have the right one. The grant application offers detailed information on the grant and eligibility criteria. You can fill the documents out on your computer or send them to other people in your organization. This application package comes in electronic PDF form and allows for editing as necessary. The application package requires detailed information on your organization as well as how you propose to spend the grant money. You will also provide information on the organization's finances and management.

The PDF will not allow you to submit an incomplete application. The document marks all required fields in order to help you locate all necessary fields. The federal system will send the application back if you submit it without completing it properly. Once you have completed the application package, you will need to click on the "Save & Submit" button on the front page. This closes the application and sends it off to the appropriate federal agency. After the application successfully uploads, you will receive a tracking number. That number will allow you to login to the Grants.gov system to see what the application's status is.

The tracking system provides a status on where the application stands for the small business grants. If Grants.gov cannot validate the application, the status is "Rejected with Error." That indicates the applicant must fix errors and resubmit. The first status a complete application receives is "Received." That indicates the application is there but not validated yet. A status of "Validated" means the validation is complete and the application awaits agency download. The next status is "Received by Agency." That means the agency downloaded the application. The next status is the "Agency Tracking Number Assigned." That means the application is now in the agency system. Further tracking goes through the agency system instead of Grants.gov.

If the government agency approves your grant funding, the individual agency will provide detailed information on how to receive the funds. Small business grants are often quite competitive and many small businesses may not get funding for a given project. It s important to meet all guidelines outlined in the application and to make sure there are no issues before you submit the application.

To get more information on these grants you can visit the following websites:


Grant application guides and resources

It is always free to apply for government grants. However the process may be very complex depending on the funding opportunity you are applying for. Let us help you!

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