Funding and Grant Resources for Your Small Business
Even during Covid, right now is the easiest time to start a business. Finding money to help you get started has more options than ever before, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to secure.
I put together a list of resources for starting a business and for existing businesses. Some of these opportunities target women-owned, minority-owned, and locations listed as “underutilized business zones”.
How much money do you need? How will you use it? When do you need it and how long will it last? Also, is your concept a side-gig? Is it your new full time job? Think through all the possibilities and all your goals. Dream as big you want, the universe doesn’t know the difference between $5 and $5,000,000, it’s all in the effort and the dream.
The key to successfully finding the right funding source and being awarded a grant, investment, an accelerator program, or low interest loan hinges on your ability to “tell your story” about not just your company, but you as an individual. Your business story is really YOUR story. It’s about what the concept is, why you started it, what problems it solves, how it’s different, and most importantly, why it’s different than similar business.
Before submitting for grants, make sure you have an updated and professional LinkedIn profile. You’ll also want to create one for your business as well. Unlike other social media pitching customers and clients, anyone potentially writing checks to your business will want to see your background and a verifiable business link to additional information. Here’s some guidance on doing it up super.
So, let’s get started! It’s a rather long list of opportunities!
The Big Resources
The first place to start is with the Small Business Administration or SBA. This federally funded source connects business owners with loan providers and grant opportunities. It also provide information on business structure and link you up with local resources as well.
A good second resource is the US Chamber of Commerce which lists 50+ grant options for small businesses, women-owned businesses, and disadvantaged and minority owned businesses. You may want to also check with your local Chamber for help with networking, marketing, and funding. Larger urban areas also host Black Chamber and Hispanic Chamber of Commerces, so find the one that fits your needs.
EDA (US Economic Development Administration) is a part of the US Department of Commerce and has funding available specific to businesses impacted by Covid. Also, be aware of scam emails claiming they can get you funding if you pay them. No one ever has to use an intermediary to get funding from EDA sources.
You’re probably familiar with crowdfunding sites where people purchase your products at a discount in advance of your launch, or packaging with “experiences” like traveling to meet the founder, attend a launch party, etc. The most popular are KickStarter and Indiegogo. There’s also GoFundMe, which doesn’t require a physical offering but allows the person hosting the page to simply raise money for almost anything (health needs, business, college, travel, etc.).
Here’s the big news, by 2027, all crowdfunding related fundraising is expected to reach over $25 billion dollars. Thats a huge opportunity!
Recently, the SEC relaxed rules on investors’ qualifications and raised the amount of funds which can be raised via new options less stringent for previous companies (just under $5m). Behold the new category of Equity Crowdfunding. This opportunity allows you to raise quite a bit towards expanding your company while allowing you to control how much of your equity you give up to other investors. The three big players in the category include, StartEngine, Republic, and WeFunder. For content creators, there’s also Patreon. This could also be a great side-gig source of income if you can position yourself as a value-added expert in some area. There’s also a list from CrowdWise with additional sites and info here.
Amber Grants offer funding exclusively for women with a compelling story about their business and mission. Monthly grants with $25,000 are awarded each month.
We Back Black Businesses is financed in part by American Express. The next deadline for this opportunity is WED 9/22/2021.
Minority Businesses Development Agency provides funding and local support for black and hispanic owned businesses. They can also link you to additional resources outside of their programs.
Founded By Her is a great resource for women-owned businesses (at least 50% ownership). It also allows you to list your business in their online directory. It’s backed by Stacy’s Pita Chips’ founder and actress, Reese Witherspoon.
FedEx Small Business Grants provides $15,000 to $50,000 awards each year. The next round of grants will open up sometime in 2022.
NASE (National Association for the Self-Employed) offers on-going grant money of $4,000 to members and veterans.
Girl Boss offers support for women owned business and has offered grants as well. Sign up the newsletter for ongoing resources and support.
California Capital Financial Development Corp. is a state-level resource. You may want to search for similar organizations in your state like this one.
Eileen Fisher is a fashion brand which also supports women-owned businesses with unscheduled grant opportunities. Sign up to follow them for announcements.
Operation Hope offers different types of business development as well as funding opportunities.
Community First is an example of a local resource offering resources, loans, grants, and other links for minority-owned businesses, this one is based in Philadelphia. You may want to use relevant search terms to locate something similar near you.
Warrior Rising is founded by and for veterans seeking help with starting a business. They offer funding and mentorship.
Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship. This Syracuse University program supports women who have served in the military. Their current program is running Sept 17–19, 2021. Subscribe to their newsletter for more info.
Rebuild Berks is another example of a localized effort supported by their chamber and government to help the community of Berks County in Pennsylvania with resources and funding. Again, search for municipal and county-level help in your area to see if similar opportunities exist.
These opportunities provide funding, mentorship, and a fast-track forum for qualifying startups. Retailers like Target and Sephora also include featured sections for new brands to be spotlighted.
RevTech is a Dallas-based program offering investment and mentorship programs specifically for retail concepts. Their latest round closed September 2021.
Accelerate — Women’s Startup Lab focuses on new ventures launch in tech-related areas by women.
Target Accelerators is founded by the giant retailer, Target and offers funding, mentorships, and product placement. Their next round opens in 2022.
Store no. 8 is an accelerator program initiated by Walmart. Sign up for the schedule on funding and schedules.
Sephora Accelerate is running its funding program but this year’s submissions close September 20th, 2021!
Tory Burch Empowering Women Foundation offers mentorship, funding, and support.
There are another 19 listed here at TechLink!
Grant writing types — for those of you with a penchant to do the process yourself for your business or nonprofit. Write a compelling story about yourself and your business. This can also be used to post on your website and in social media.
Clear Angel Business Loans — this is a new platform using AI to analysis your current business revenues, marketing, ad spends, and SEO. It’s a rather comprehensive and unique approach to getting funding in the initial stages which have been difficult before this advancement in tech.
Good luck and hit me up at my LinkedIn profile if I can answer any questions!
SBA provides limited small business grants and grants to states and eligible community organizations to promote…