Business grants for small businesses are a sum of money that certain groups offer to help small business owners achieve their goals. Don't confuse grants with small business loans. Grants are unique. Small business owners don't have to pay the grant money back. The company doesn’t have to put up collateral. There are no late fees. And probably one of the most important differences – there is no interest. Free money sounds great, doesn’t it?
Well business grants do come with a few limitations. Both the grantee and grantor have to meet a list of requirements to approve the grant. Some small business grants may have eligibility requirements, such as having a small business insurance plan. If you don't meet the requirements, you may have to pay the grant back.
Federal Business Grants
There are different types of grants. They typically come from two major entities: federal and private. The federal government provides federal small business grants for different things. A small business grant is often given for very specific reasons. They will not cover operational expenses, paying off a debt or expanding a business. They are particular to industries and targeted causes deemed worthy by the federal government.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) works with different organizations to provide grants for businesses engaged in scientific research and development. In fact, they encourage small firms to undertake research that will meet federal research and development objectives. The SBAs State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) also provides financial awards to state and territory governments. These awards can help small businesses or companies with export development.
Federal government grants are generally given to:
- Educational institutions
- State and local governments
You can visit the federal grants site to find grants that may apply to your business. Federal grants are designed to benefit the public. They generally are pre-approved for specific programs and projects.
Private Business Grants
Private business grants will vary depending on the nature of your business. Small businesses usually apply for federal grants. But there are times where not-for-profit businesses and state or local governments offer economic development grants. Consider checking with your state and local governments for grant opportunities. Many groups offer grants to:
- Ethnic groups
- Veteran-owned businesses
- Women-owned businesses
Small business owners can use these grants towards business endeavors.
Examples of private business grants can include:1
- FedEx Small Business Grant Content
- Halstead Grant (Jewelry businesses only)
- IdeaCafe Small Business Grant (only required to have a business plan)
- NASE Growth Grants (Micro-businesses only, 10 employees or fewer)
- Wells Fargo Community Giving (Nonprofits and educational organizations only)
- WomensNet Amber Grant (Women-owned businesses only)
- StreetShares Foundation Grant (Exclusive to veteran entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry)
- Walmart Foundation (Nonprofits only)
- Visa Everywhere Initiative
Grants for Small Business Startups
Grants for small business startups are a great option, but it requires dedication. Applying for a grant is free, but it’s competitive. Just imagine how many startups are in the same arena? If you’re looking for money and up for the challenge, though, the payoff is worth the fight.
Government grants are funded by tax dollars. Congress and the White House approve any federal grants. Grants align closely to the agendas of federal agencies, like the Department of Energy or the Department of Agriculture. So, where does your small business fit in the realm of federal business grants? What about private business grants? Grants for small business startups that advance scientific research are prioritized. If you don’t fit this niche, there are still quite a few options.
Many large corporations look for opportunities to help small business startups succeed. As mentioned above, FedEx, Walmart and Visa all provide private grant programs for small businesses. Other companies that provide private grants include LendingTree, the Coca-Cola Foundation and many more. Do your research and apply for the grant that is specific to your business, because there are quite a few out there!
What Is Grant Fraud?
The U.S. awards hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of federal grants to small businesses and other various groups, including:
- Local governments
Grants are allotted and given with specific requirements and guidelines. Despite this, misuse, deceit and abuse of grants still happen.
Grant fraud could include:
- False claims or statements
Grant fraud happens when an individual attempts to deceive the government or private grant giver in any way, shape or form. Lying, cheating or stealing all constitute fraudulent behavior when it comes to grants. The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General warns parties that consequences of federal grant fraud can include:
- Debarment from receiving future funding
- Administrative recoveries of funds
- Civil lawsuits
- Criminal prosecution
It isn’t worth it. If you have received a grant from the federal government or a private party, ensure that your business is spending the money appropriately.
Learn More About Small Business Grants From The Hartford
No matter what type of business you have, The Hartford is here to help propel you and your employees forward. Our small business insurance team has been dedicated to helping small business owners like you for more than 30 years. Contact us to learn more about small business grants today.