There are a number of sources you can explore when you're raising capitalfor your small business. You can apply for a loan, pitch an investor, or leverage your own assets, to name a few ways. Another option is applying for a small business grant.
The biggest benefit of using grant money to fund your small business is that it doesn't have to be paid back, but the challenge is finding these grants. In general, federal governments do not provide grants for starting a business, paying off debt, or covering operational expenses. And unless your business is a non-profit or launching a project related to areas such as science, medical research or education, government grants can be very hard to find. Plus, you should also be aware that if you fit into one of those categories and do find and win a grant, you may be restricted in how you can use the funds in your business (i.e., some require that you hire staff or make a specific technology purchase with your award).
Small business grants are available. The list below includes databases of government grants (if your business is a non-profit or fits into one of the categories specified above), as well as smaller non-government grants that, combined with other funding source, may help you get the capital you need for your small business.
The CFDAis a government database that lists all of the federal programs available to organizations and individuals. You are likely to find many grants that you are not eligible for, but it's a good place to start your search.
Grants.gov is the official site of the U.S. government that includes a searchable database, online applications and a tracking system to see how your application is being processed. You can use the site to search all 26 federal grant-making agencies for grants by keywords or more specific criteria.
SBIR is a federal program, coordinated by the SBA that awards grants and contracts to small businesses engaged in research and development (R&D). The grants fund the R&D necessary to develop innovative technological products that can be brought to market.
Take some time to look at your local government websites for your city, county, and state to see if they are offering any grants or other financial assistance programs for small businesses. This Economic Development Directory is a good place to start.
Although the award amounts may vary and most grant opportunities require a significant effort to win, there are grants available for small businesses. The trick is doing your research and digging deep enough to find them.