So, you’ve got a great business idea, and now you’ve got to fund it. Or maybe you need an infusion of cash to help it grow. Regardless of your situation, navigating how to find additional funding can be difficult.
There are grants and similar funding sources to help you launch, grow or expand your small business, but before you apply, make sure you thoroughly review the eligibility requirements and deadlines, as well as the applications of previous winners.
Here are a some other places to help your funding search.
Grants for the self-employed or just getting started
If you work for yourself and become a member of the National Association for Self-Employed, you can apply for a grant worth up to $4,000 to help grow your business. Since 2006, the grant has awarded $650,000 to small businesses to help them purchase computers, farm equipment, hire part-time help, pay for marketing materials, creating a website and more.
Also take a look at the Idea Cafe. Although many of the award recipients are women, this website has a small business grant center open to everyone, including $1,000 small business grants for anyone who currently owns a business or is planning to start one.
Grants from corporations
Many corporations offer small business grants, though they tend to be focused on a theme or issue, and often are structured as competitions. Finding a corporate grant program that fits your idea or small business may take some additional searching.
Launched in 2015, the Visa Everywhere Initiative funds businesses that help solve payments and commerce challenges. In 2018, four finalists — three challenge winners and one audience choice winner — competed for the grand prize of $50,000 and a potential partnership with Visa.
Another option is the FedEx Small Business Grant. From reinventing the wheel for a wheelchair to helping girls access science, annual grants help entrepreneurs launch their ideas and businesses.
Grants for nonprofit organizations
If your new business is a nonprofit, you might consider applying for a grant from Walmart. The large corporation gave over a billion in cash and in-kind contributions during its latest fiscal year. Its grants are typically given to nonprofit organizations that usually focus on sustainability and/or community-centered groups and ideas.
Their Spark Communities Program, formerly known as the State Giving Program, awards multi-year grants starting at $500,000 to 501(c)(3) organizations.
Grants for businesses in rural areas
The USDA offers Rural Business Development Grants for companies of less than 50 people and with less than $1 million in gross revenue. If you’re a farmer in Texas who has a business idea the Texas Department of Agriculture funds grants twice a year (spring and fall) for farmers ages 18-46.
Many regions have geographic-specific grants. For example, the city of Chicago has a Small Business Improvement Fund that uses Tax Increment Financing — better known as TIFs— to help companies that repair or remodel their facilities for their own business or on behalf of tenants up to $150,000.
You can also review local options by going to state agency websites. For example, if you live in Iowa, there’s a whole list of grants on IowaGrants.gov. In Washington, D.C., the Department of Small and Local Business Development has its DC Main Street grants to help improve business districts with more retail stores. To look state-by-state options, try USA.gov.
Grants from the federal government
On a national level, if you’re looking to partner with a federal agency on research and development, consider the Small Business Technology Transfer Program (SBTT), which has small business collaborate with the research and development department of a federal agency such as the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation and Department of Defense.
Another option is the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR), where small businesses work with federal research and development departments in order commercialize research.