Do you need a financial boost to help get your small business off the ground? Or are you searching for a small business grant to keep you afloat during these financially turbulent times? Then you’ll want to check out this list of small business grants that I’ve put together. A few of them are specifically for Veterans. There are a lot of programs out there for Veteran entrepreneurs. This post talks about grants, but I’ll share more about the Veteran entrepreneur and small business programs out there in a future post. Stay tuned!
StreetShares Foundation, a nonprofit organization, created in 2016, exists to inspire, educate, and support veteran entrepreneurs. Their competition-based grant program, called the Veteran Business Award, gives $15,000 to first place winners, $6,000 to second place winners, and $4,000 to third place winners. You can apply for consideration through a proposal and video pitch. The foundation then chooses 8-15 finalists and the public votes for the winner on the StreetShares Foundation website. Even if you don’t win, you’ll get lots of exposure!
This grant is eligible to veterans, military spouses, Gold Star family members (immediate family member of a military member who died on active duty), and are a majority owner of the business. The application will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
- The impact they are having on the military community
- Background of the business, your story, the ingenuity of idea, and potential for growth
- What problem are you solving for customers?
- History of your organization
- Plans for grant funds and what impact it will have
- Creative ways you’re responding to the pandemic
Find out more on the StreetShares website.
Warrior Rising is more than a funding source for veteran businesses. It is a support system. Warrior Rising’s mission is to help veteran entrepreneurs, or vetpreneurs as they like to call them, to succeed in business goals. The program consists of training and mentoring, along with connecting vetpreneurs to funding options. Entering the program begins with an interview and intake session. Grants are offered directly through Warrior Rising, and they will also help you find and apply to other grant sources. Visit their website to find out how you can begin the process.
National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE)
NASE has been awarding grants since 2006 and has given small businesses close to $1,000,000 over the years. The NASE Growth Grant awards up to $4,000 business development grants to small businesses to promote growth. Use these funds for marketing, advertising, or other expansion efforts.
Not everyone who applies for the grant gets it. Applications will be judged on business needs, detailed use of funds, and the impact funds will make on business growth. Applicants must be NASE members for at least the past 90 days. Membership plans begin at $11.95/month, and they offer a 15% discount for Veterans who purchase an annual membership plan for $99 (usually $120).
Idea Cafe Grants
Here’s a quick and easy small business grant to apply for. Idea Café is an online forum for business owners and entrepreneurs to share information. They offer small business grants of $1,000. Past recipients include bakeries, country stores, magazines, and bicycle makers. No entry fee or lengthy applications are required. They simply ask that you become an Idea Café Regular by signing up for a free account. It doesn’t get any easier than that!
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is offered through the Small Business Administration. To apply for this grant, you’ll need to be a small business focused on technological innovation. The grants come in two parts, Phase I and Phase II. Phase I recipients are businesses that are just starting out and in the process of determining whether or not their concept is feasible. If you’re able to get a Phase I grant, your business will receive up to $150,000.
If you prove your concept in Phase I, you will apply for the Phase II grant. The Phase II grant pays up to $1,000,000 over two years.
To be eligible to apply, businesses must be for-profit, majority-owned by a citizen of the U.S., or permanent resident, with less than 500 employees.
Other Places to Find Small Business Grants
There are a ton of resources available to help you locate small business grants. One website you’ll want to check out is Grants.gov, a comprehensive website that offers a federal grant search tool and application tips and writing help. Grants may also be available at the state and local level, so be sure to research those avenues. Try your state’s department of commerce website, local government websites, and individual chambers of commerce.
GrantWatch is another site you’ll want to search for federal, state, local, foundation, and corporation grants. You must become a member to use this tool. A free membership allows you to search for grants and read their summaries. As a paid member, you can search using keywords and view the full submission requirements and details. The nice thing about GrantWatch is that it does the work to consolidate all the information into one place.
How to Apply for Small Business Grants
Each grant will have criteria that you’ll need to follow. Be sure that you follow the requirements to a T! Incomplete or incorrect applications often go straight to the “no” pile. Take your time when filling out applications to make sure yours gets to the “yes” pile. If a particular grant has a complex application packet, you may want to contract a grant writer if your budget allows. It may pay off in the long run, depending on the amount of the grant award.
Of course, you’ll also want to be sure you have everything together for your business, such as your business plan and legal documents. Need help putting all that together? Check out my 10 Simple Steps for Starting a Small Business – Tips and Tools to Use.