Across the globe, small business is on the rise. Governments everywhere are investing billions of dollars every year into new, emerging, or small businesses. What does this mean to you?
Accessing this money is the hard part. You’ll have to navigate the red tape, bureaucracy, and battle other entrepreneurs for a share of the cash up for grabs. Here’s how to find, apply, and win small business grants in Ontario.
1. Do Your Research
Most businesses receive initial funding from banks or venture capital, where investors ‘donate’ money to the company in exchange for a stake in the business. Government funding programs are sometimes needlessly overlooked because businesses are unaware of their scope. The key to accessing these potential goldmines is to know which of these provide the best match for your company and its goals.
Small business grants are generally divided into four categories: Business Expansion Funding, Capital Investment Funding, Hiring and Training Grants, and Research and Development Funding. Each of these has unique requirements and eligibility criteria that you should be aware of before applying.
2. Get Your Files in Order
Once you’ve determined what small business grants are available and that suit your business, you’ll need to get your paperwork together for the application process. Depending on which grants you’ve identified, you’ll likely need a copy of your preliminary financials showing sales volume, market research and analysis that proves acceptance of your product, and a business plan for how you expect your business to unfold.
3. Apply, apply, apply!
With your paperwork together and your list of grants handy, get out there and start applying. Most of these programs operate on a yearly basis, with specific dates for when applications will be received. Even if you’ve just missed the deadline, you should still aim to apply in the following year. The application process may be lengthy, so plan for a few weeks of processing time, at least. Don’t be shy to follow up about grants you’re particularly interested in.
4. Spend Wisely
So, you’ve applied like mad and won a few grants for small business! Now is when the fun begins. Maybe you already know what your grant will be used for, and your windfall can be applied immediately to that project. If you’re a bit more unsure, make a plan for your small business grant once it’s in your bank account. Budget your grant carefully to tackle the business areas that most need financing. Resist the urge to run out and buy a new computer for your business and instead focus on what your company needs most.
Funding for your small business can sometimes be found where you don’t look. Small business grants in Ontario are a historically underutilized funding mechanism that more small businesses should take advantage of. When you do your research, have organized files, and apply to many different grants, you have the best chance of accessing money for your business. Just don’t spend it all in one place!