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Grant Funding 101: Cracking the Code to Grant Funding with Insider Strategies for Start-Up Success!

With so many grant opportunities available to reach your fundraising goals, it can be challenging, overwhelming, and downright frustrating to figure out where to start and how to stand out among the sea of proposals! Trust me, I’ve been there myself! Don’t worry, I’m here to help!


As a professional grant writer and consultant who sifts through these every day and helps Founders like you secure funding, today I’m going to answer the most population questions start-up Founders ask me all the time when searching for grants. I’ll cover what types of grants are available, how to find grants, how to go about the application process, and how to put together a very strong grant application to help you secure the funding you need to grow your company!


First, let me properly introduce myself. I'm Stacy Chin from KeepYourEquity.co, and our mission is to help start-ups and businesses secure grant funding. We specialize in helping science and tech start-ups secure non-dilutive funding from federal programs such as the SBIR and STTR. If you’d like to learn more about the SBIR or STTR program, check out this link here to a helpful overview video. We also consult with lots of other private and public businesses in healthcare, tech, energy, and military as well as NGOs to help them secure grant funding to support projects that would make a huge impact to solve some of today’s biggest global challenges.


Now that you know a little bit about me, let’s get started.


Common Struggles with Securing Grant Funding


No matter the industry or big idea, securing funding is essential for the success of any start-up or business, and grants can be an excellent source of non-dilutive financial support. However, finding and securing grants can be a complex and time-consuming process.


There are so many different grant opportunities out there that have their own set of requirements, rules, and application components. Additionally, depending on your business or start-up, you may not qualify to apply for some opportunities and, sometimes, your eligibility can even be unclear.


So for these reasons, it is really important for Founders to understand how to best navigate the grant searching process so that they can identify the most appropriate grants for their business and increase their chances of getting an award.



The 7 Most Common Grant Funding Questions From Founders


I have been a professional grant writer for over 10 years and along the way, I have been able to secure over $10M of funding for myself and my clients. With this invaluable experience, I want to share with you my thoughts and advice on the top 7 most common questions I get asked.


These questions are:

  1. What types of grants are available for start-up companies?

  2. How do I find grants for my start-up?

  3. What are the eligibility requirements for start-up grants?

  4. What is the application process for start-up grants?

  5. How much money can I apply for and how long does it take to receive the grant?

  6. What should I include in my grant proposal?

  7. How can I increase my chances of being awarded a grant for my start-up?

Let’s answer them!



#1: What Types Of Grants Are Available For Start-Up Companies?


There are a variety of grants to help fund start-ups on any aspect of their business, whether it is for operations, research and development, growth, new hires, diversity, or even to pursue new opportunities.


I would say the most common types of grants are federal government grants, private sector grants, research grants, and nonprofit grants.


Government Grants


Government grants are typically provided by local, state, and federal government agencies and are intended to support various industries, including healthcare, technology, and agriculture.


Private Sector


Private sector grants are provided by corporations and businesses and can be used for a wide range of purposes, including marketing, product development, and research.


Research


Usually, research grants are typically awarded to academic institutions, but start-up companies may also be eligible for these grants if they are engaged in scientific research. Some examples of these could be the SBIR and STTR programs I briefly mentioned earlier.


Non-Profit


Finally, nonprofit grants are provided by philanthropic organizations and are typically aimed at social and community development projects.



#2: How Do I Find Grants For My Start-Up?


There are several ways to find grants for your start-up no matter which type of grant you may be looking for.


Google Searches


First, you can easily use Google Search by entering keywords related to the grants you are looking for. Some examples could be "startup grants," “foundational grants,” “non-profit grants,” "small business grants," or "research grants."


Here is it very important to be very specific in your grant search since there are some grants that are solely dedicated to different topics like cancer research, research and development, infrastructure, non-profit, and more.


Online Databases


There are also online databases that you can search to help you identify grants. These databases provide a comprehensive list of available grants, along with eligibility criteria, application requirements, and funding amounts.


One of these is frants.gov which is a centralized database of federal grants offered by the US government. Startups and businesses can search for grants based on keywords, eligibility criteria, and other factors.


Agency Websites


You can also visit government agency websites, such as the Small Business Administration, to explore grant opportunities. Many local business development centers and incubators also offer free resources and support to help start-ups identify and apply for grants so make sure to check out their websites.


#3: What Are The Eligibility Requirements For Start-Up Grants?


Eligibility requirements for start-up grants can vary widely depending on the type of grant and the funding agency.


Some common eligibility requirements include the business's location, size, and industry, as well as the type of project or research that the grant will fund.


For example, government or state grants may require that the start-up be located in a certain geographic region, be involved in a specific industry or field, or have a certain number of employees. Private sector grants may be available to start-ups that are working on innovative products or technologies, or that demonstrate a potential for growth and profitability.


Research grants may require that the start-up be engaged in scientific research, while nonprofit grants may require that the start-up be focused on social or community development.


You’ll be able to answer this question more specifically by looking at the information provided on each of the grants you have found.


#4: What Is The Application Process For Start-Up Grants?


Like the eligibility requirements, the application process for start-up grants can vary widely depending on the type of grant and the funding agency.


Typically, the application process begins with researching and identifying grant opportunities that are a good fit for your start-up. Once you have identified a grant program and have carefully reviewed the eligibility requirements, you will need to also research the application process and requirements of that particular grant.


Depending on the opportunity you want to go for, there may be templates available for you to use. Other times, the instructions may be vague and you have to go through a 100-page solicitation document to identify the components of what is needed in a grant application.


However, once you understand the components required in the grant application, the next step is to get writing! This may include drafting a detailed proposal that outlines the project or research that the grant will fund, a business plan, short- and long-term goals, a detailed budget, a timeline, resumes, and other required documentation.


Since some grant application processes may also include an extensive review process, interviews, pitches, or site visits, it is very important for you to comb through the instructions or to reach out to the agency for further clarification so you know exactly what is required to submit a grant.


A grant consultant or grant writer like our team of experts here at KeepYourEquity.co can also be helpful in the application process, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help!


#5: How Much Money Can I Apply For And How Long Does It Take To Receive The Grant?


I may be sounding like a broken record here, but the amount of money that you can apply for and the time it takes to receive a grant can vary widely depending on the type of grant and the funding agency. I can give you a general idea though.


Grant Funding Limits


Start-up grants can range from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars or even to multiple millions of dollars. From my experience, the larger the funding opportunity is, the larger the grant application will be and the stiffer the competition usually is.


Grant Funding Timeline


As far as how long it takes to get your money if you are awarded, the process of receiving a grant can take several weeks to several months, or even longer in some cases. The timeline often depends on several factors, such as the complexity of the grant application, the number of applications being reviewed, and the specific requirements of the grant program. The more complex, the more applications, and the more requirements, the longer it usually takes of course.


Because securing a grant is so competitive, there are times you may get feedback on rejected applications that you can use to improve your grant and resubmit it again. I always tell my clients who are going for grants especially for the first time to stay patient because going for grant funding is all about persistence!



#6: What Should I Include In My Grant Proposal?


To answer the question, let’s first answer- what is a grant proposal? Well, a grant proposal is a detailed document that outlines the project or research that the grant will fund including all of the nitty-gritty details the project requires to execute.


So what should you include in your grant proposal?


Summary


First and foremost, it is important to provide a clear and compelling summary of your start-up and the specific project or research that the grant will support. Usually, this should include a brief introduction of your start-up, its mission, and its goals.


Budget


Your proposal should also include a detailed budget that outlines how the grant funds will be used. It is essential to be as specific as possible when creating your budget, including line items for expenses such as salaries, supplies, and equipment. The budget should be realistic, as accurate as possible, and demonstrate that the grant funds will be used efficiently.


Execution Timeline


In addition to the project summary and budget, your grant proposal should also have a clear and realistic timeline for the project. This timeline should outline the key milestones and deadlines for the project, including the start and end dates.


Relevant Extras


Finally, it is also important to include any additional information that may be required by the grant application, such as letters of support, resumes of key personnel, and other relevant documents. Be sure to carefully review the application guidelines to ensure that you have included all required documentation.



#7: How Can I Increase My Chances Of Being Awarded A Grant For My Start-Up?


Standing out. It is always the hardest part, but making your grant proposal stand out among the competition almost always increases your chances of receiving funding for your start-up. Yet, the question is, how do you do it?


Clear Goals, Plans, & Alignment


One way to stand out is by clearly articulating your project or research goals and how they align with the goals of the funding agency so you’ll need to research a bit of information on the funding agency and what they are looking for, too, and not just the grant itself.


It’s vital to demonstrate that your start-up has a clear and well-defined plan for achieving its goals, that the grant funds will be used efficiently and effectively, and that everything you have outlined is clearly beneficial to or aligned with the values and goals of the agency. This will immediately jump out to the agency reviewers and therefore ensure your startup stands out from the crowd.


When advising my clients on how to craft a strong grant application, I always ask them if you were to have the money tomorrow, walk me through exactly what you are going to do with the money step-by-step to get to the end deliverable.


I found this is an excellent exercise to walk through the best way to deploy the money, what problems may arise from your plan A, how to mitigate them, and (if you were successful), prove that your proposed efforts deliver the end goal or outcome that you had hoped for! Oftentimes by breaking it down in a more casual manner, you can then explain it better when you go to formally outline your budget in the proposal.


Visual Aids


Another tip I like to give clients to stand out is to always include visual aids such as graphs, charts, and diagrams which help to make your proposal more engaging and memorable. These visual aids can also help to demonstrate the potential impact of your project or research in a clear and concise way and draw attention to the bigger picture.


Brag a Little!


Another way to make your proposal stand out is by providing evidence of your start-up's past successes and achievements. This can include testimonials from satisfied customers, awards and recognition, or other relevant accomplishments. By highlighting your start-up's strengths and demonstrating its potential for success, you can make a compelling case for why your project or research deserves funding.


No Silly Mistakes


Finally, carefully proofread and edit your proposal before submitting it. A well-written and error-free proposal demonstrates professionalism and attention to detail and can help to make your start-up stand out among other applicants. You wouldn’t believe how many applicants submit applications with silly mistakes that end up being remembered and costing them an award!


Key Takeaways


If there is a common theme from the questions we have answered today, it is that every grant opportunity is different. However, these insights are something to think about while on any grant funding journey no matter the business or the industry. I hope you found these tips helpful so that you can understand to create a compelling grant proposal and increase your chances of receiving the funding you need to take your business to the next level! Still have questions? Drop them in the comments below and let’s chat!

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