4 General Guidelines When Applying for a Business Grant

While starting a business is no doubt exciting, it is not without its challenges. These can include uncertainties regarding sales that can make overhead and inventory costs difficult as well attempting to remain competitive with larger companies. As a result, it is not uncommon that small business apply for grants provided by government agencies on a regular basis. These grants allow small businesses to stay afloat by allowing them to pay for things such as inventory items, office space and supplies, staff, and equipment.

Since these things are essential to the survival of most businesses, owners must guarantee that their application for a grant is competitive with others applying. Below are tips when applying for grants for small businesses and abiding by them will put you in the best position to obtain the funding you need.

1. Make sure you are eligible

A lot of timing and planning goes into a proposal to receive a small business grant. As a result, you want to confirm that your business is eligible for approval. Otherwise you will be setting yourself up for disappointment when your application ultimately gets rejected.

Before completing an application for any given government grant for small businesses, read the eligibility criteria. This will explicitly state which businesses will be considered for approval. Examples of eligibility can include being part of a particular industry, location, sales volume, race, and years in business. If the eligibility list excludes you on even one ground, do not bother applying and attempt to find grants where you meet all criteria as this will maximize your chances of being approved.

2. Be mindful of information

The information on your application will be the sole determinant of whether or not you will be approved for a small business grant. Therefore, everything needs to be perfect to be competitive with the other applications the agency will receives.

When completing your application, use professional language and grammar and refrain from using slang and information that has no substance. Provide accurate and honest information because if the grant officer determines that you have been untruthful you can bet you will be excluded from the process. Also ensure your application is completed in full as sections that are blank or parts that are missing information will give you the impression you are careless and not diligent enough.

3. Have a great plan

Your application may be fantastic with all required information, perfect grammar, and sentences that articulate your business and what it has to offer. However, government agencies that offer small business grants want to see that the money they give businesses will be put towards useful things that will benefit the public. Therefore, you need a great plan that will portray this.

The business plan that you include with your application should have a detailed outline about how your business will use the grant is approved. This will demonstrate to the agency that the grant will be helpful and used as intended. Many businesses use grants for new equipment, hiring additional staff, inventory, expansion, and office expenses. These are all smart investments but they definitely need to be articulated in your application.

4. Check in

Government agencies that give government grants for small businesses get inundated with applications. As a result, you definitely want to put yourself front and centre and avoid being forgotten about.

A few weeks after the application deadline, it is advisable to check in with your loan officer. Use this opportunity to reiterate how you could use the grant and offer to address any questions or concerns regarding your application. Follow up every few weeks. This will demonstrate your ongoing interest in the grant and allow the opportunity to supplement your submitted application.

5 Things Small Business Owners Should Do in 2018

The beginning of every year presents great opportunities for re-evaluation and planning for a small business. With thinning resources and orders that need to be fulfilled, most small businesses can benefit from a fresh injection of capital, new goals, and new processes. From applying for government grants for small businesses to making pricing changes, there are many things you should do in 2018 to keep your business competitive and solvent in 2018.

1. Keep Tabs on Your Finances

Having your accounts in order is perhaps one of the most important best practices that a small business can adhere to. Perform regular reconciliation of your accounts, preferably weekly, to ensure that you are in control of your finances on a continual basis. Always keeping your numbers before you will help you monitor your business finances in real time. You will also be able to flag down any issues that could be negatively affecting your operations and proactively make the necessary changes. Waiting to fix issues at the end of the year may be too late.

2. Get Organized Early On

A small business may not have complicated or detailed processes. However, don’t take this to mean you don’t need a system to help you organize your processes and activities. Before you know it, the few processes in your small business will snowball into a beehive of activities. Have a system in place that will help you organize, and maybe even automate, some of your repetitive or routine processes.

3. Apply for Grants

If you’re struggling to pay your bills or come up with the cash for that new marketing strategy you want to take public, consider applying for government grants for small businesses. This extra capital can help you drive business growth and take on new activities that can boost your revenue.

4. Establish Your 2018 Staffing Needs

One of the things you will have to decide on is whether to hire new staff or not. If you are on a shoestring budget, hiring new staff may be too strenuous on your business. However, you can get more or less the same results by contracting freelancers whenever you need an extra hand.

5. Determine the Right Pricing Strategy

While you may be tempted to outprice the competition by offering rock-bottom prices, this strategy may back-fire since most clients will be more interested in the quality of products or the services you offer. A lower price is always secondary to quality services and products. Rather than compete on price, focus on improving the quality of your services, and the price issue will sort itself out.

If you’re having trouble closing deals or you’re struggling to pay your overhead costs, now may be the time to take another look at your pricing strategy.

The year 2018 is turning out to be a great year for small businesses with an eye on providing quality services and products at the most competitive prices. Increasingly, businesses are being proactive and also thinking outside the box to keep their expenses under control and widen their profit margins.

4 Important Tips to Promote Small Business Success

Running a business can be a difficult task. It will be very rewarding once you have found a certain amount of success but getting yourself to that point won’t be easy. There are certain things that you can do to promote success in your business endeavours. Being able to understand how to use government grants for small businesses and generally making use of good advice should help your business to improve over time.

1. Understand What Government Grants Are Available

You should make sure that you know whether you’re eligible for different government grants. Sometimes your company can greatly benefit from receiving these funds and will be allowed to grow substantially from having access to them. Look into the specific grants that are available in your area. If your type of business qualifies for any of these grants, then it would behove you to apply for them immediately.

Making good decisions is an important part of being an effective business owner. You need to make use of all of the resources available to you in order for your company to grow. Don’t neglect any opportunities that are presented to your business. If government grants can help your company to operate more smoothly and gain an advantage, then you need to capitalise on this.

2. Pay Close Attention to the Competition

When you want to succeed in business, it’s imperative that you keep a close eye on your competition. If your competition is doing something new, then you need to be aware of it in case this starts to attract customers away from your store. One of the most sensible reasons that people pay close attention to their competition is to gauge their pricing data. You need to be able to stay competitive when pricing your own services or goods.

3. Don’t Let Taxes Catch You by Surprise

It’s essential that you have a professional accountant to handle your tax data. If you don’t have a skilled professional to help you handle the particulars of your taxes, it is possible that you can have errors. Aside from this, some small business owners get caught by surprise when they find out how much they owe on their taxes. This is a rookie mistake and should be avoided by being prepared for whatever costs you’re going to face.

Unless you’re very confident in your personal accounting skills, you should look into hiring a tax service or accounting firm to help with this situation. You’ll wind up being in a much better position and won’t need to fret when taxes become due. When you have all of the right information and expert advice that you can rely on, it’s a simple task to maintain the funds needed to pay taxes.

4. Maintain a Strict Schedule

You need to run your business effectively. In order to have the best results, it’s a good idea to maintain a strict schedule to complete as many tasks as you can. When your employees see you working hard, it will help to inspire them to do the same. The leader of a business needs to be the hardest-working person involved in the company, especially during the first

few years. This will give you a much better chance at being successful as you will reap what you sow in the business world.

5 Tips to Help Your Small Business Grow

Being a small business owner can be simultaneously very satisfying and incredibly stressful. You’re responsible for the well-being of your company and the livelihoods of the people you employ. It can be a lot of pressure sometimes but you should also feel a sense of pride that you’re doing the best job you can. Whether you received government grants for small businesses when starting out or not, you worked hard to build this operation from the ground up.

The successes that you’ve had up until now are due to your hard work and the passion of the other workers you’ve surrounded yourself with. In order to continue to grow your business, it’s important that you always look into new ideas. Take a look at the following five tips to help your business grow. They should allow you to look towards the future and have even greater aspirations.

1. Try to Be Innovative

In order to have success in the business realm, you need to do your best to be innovative. If your business doesn’t stand out from the pack in some ways, then you’re liable to get lost in the mix. Do your best to offer new and exciting products. If your business is more focused on providing a service, then you need to innovate in that way by providing services the competition can’t.

2. Customer Service Is Key

It should go without saying that your relationship with your customers is the most important aspect of your business. Always ensure that they’re happy with their experiences when dealing with your business. When you’re training new employees, you must impress upon them that good customer service can make or break a business. When your customers are happy to see the workers and have good interactions with them, they’re far more likely to become loyal patrons.

3. Make Use of Social Media

In this day and age, you must have a social media presence. Businesses that aren’t making use of social media networks to increase their visibility are behind the times. You should create profiles for your business on all of the major sites and then do your best to engage with your target audience.

Be sincere with your social media outreach and also don’t be afraid to do something unique or funny. Standing out can be a very good thing in the business world. If you can get potential customers to remember your name, they’re going to be more likely to want to try your services.

4. Competitive Pricing

You can’t afford to price products or services too low. Even though there is a threshold that you can’t go below, you should do your best to offer competitive pricing options. Always research what your competition is doing. Keep an eye on their price points and do your best to always match or best them.

When your prices are very reasonable, it will give you a better reputation with your customers. Positive word of mouth will spread that you give great deals and you’ll see more business because of it. Of course, you also need to ensure to always provide top-notch service to go with those amazing prices.

5. Make Use of Customer Surveys

It might seem to be an unusual choice but customer surveys can be very useful for your business. Getting information directly from your customers about what they want to see more of at your business can be quite valuable. You’ll be able to do your own market research in this fashion and can also get feedback on how well your customer service is going.

Use everything at your disposal to make sure that your clientele has the best experience possible. When you do all of these things, your business will be sure to grow. It may take time to grow exponentially but making steady improvements year over year will ensure that you stay a successful operation for a long time to come.

Four Tips to Fund Small Business Growth

Growing your small business requires exceptional planning and plenty of time, energy and sweat. However, it also usually requires a significant amount of funding. In many cases, a business does not have enough funds available to pay for all new product developments or expansion plans. Between government grants for small businesses and other options, you may be able to find the extra funding that you need to accomplish your business growth plans and to seize the opportunities that are available to you right now..

1. Use a Grant

Government grants for small businesses are essentially free money, so this makes them one of the best financial resources to use. Before you borrow money or give away a portion of your company to a partner or an investor, explore all of the grant options available. The Internet is a great resource to use to locate grants that may be available to your business.

2. Think About Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a relatively new concept, and it allows you to fund a loan from dozens or even hundreds of individuals rather than from a single bank. There are many crowdfunding platforms available for you to use. You simply create a profile for your loan request, and you wait for people to show interest through partially funding your loan. This is a great idea if you have bad credit or if you do not want to go through the typical bank loan process.

3. Apply for a Small Business Loan

Applying for a small business loan is one of the most traditional ways to raise money. It continues to be a popular option because it is effective. You will need to have a formal business plan prepared, and you will need to provide the bank with all of your personal and business financials. The loan process can be lengthy, but this may be a great way to get the money that you need.

4. Find an Investor or Partner

Another idea is to locate a partner or investors. This could be a silent partner who simply gives you money in exchange for a share of the profits going forward. It could also be an active partner who brings networking connections, work experience or something else to the table as well as money that you need for growth.

Business growth rarely comes without its aches and pains. One of the most common causes of growth pains relates to finances. If you plan ahead and seek financing before you begin your growth and expansion plans, you may be able to reduce stress and even mitigate risk in some cases. Examine each of these financing options carefully. Remember that you could use money from multiple sources as needed rather than only from one source.

Four Benefits of Starting a Small Business

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and an amazing idea, you can start a small business and be successful with it. Government grants for small businesses are available, and they can provide you with the funds that you need to get your operation off the ground. The following are four ways you can benefit from starting one:

1. Tax Breaks

One great thing about having a small business in Canada is that you get to take advantage of quite a few benefits. One of those benefits is the home business lot of deductions that you can take. That’s right. You can receive some deductions for using your home as your business if you spend money for office supplies and utilities that go toward the business operations. You may even have the opportunity to take auto deductions if you have a business that delivers products to customers.

2. Loans and Advances

When you own a business, a whole new world of credit opportunities opens up to you. You may be able to qualify for merchant advances as well as a loan that will help you to get better equipment for your business. If you can show that your operation is successful, financial businesses will be willing to invest in you. You could apply for remodeling grants and things like that, as well. Just watch what’s available for you once you open the doors to your establishment.

3. Customizable Schedule

Another wonderful thing about owning a small business is that you can make your own schedule. That means that you can work with any other obligations that you have like schooling or taking care of your family. You’re your own boss, so you can show up for work or not show up whenever you please. The customizable schedule is still and will always be one of the greatest joys of owning a small business.

4. Control and Personal Joy

Owning your own business will make you feel accomplished. You’ll also have that sense of control in that you can choose who to serve and not serve. You can choose what is ethical and moral for your business and what isn’t. You can choose the type of business partners with whom you want to be involved. It’s a wonderful feeling to look at the business that you have built and truly take in its growth. It’s a whole separate joy to know that you can pass that business down to your children.

If you have a mind for business and are good with customer service, you may want to think about starting a small business. You could even choose one that has little or no overhead to get yourself started.

5 Ways to Grow Your Small Business

Once you have established your business, you need to shift your focus to the actions you need to take to help it grow.

1. Acquire Capital

There is a reason people say, “You need to spend money to make money.” This is especially true for small businesses. Everything that you need to run your business costs money, including basic office supplies, the rent and utilities for your place of business, any marketing, and product development. There are several ways to acquire enough capital to fund your business. You can start a funding campaign, you can seek government grants for small businesses, or you can even find an investor.

2. Perform Market Research

Perform market research by asking your target audience what they want to see and networking with your competitors and other companies in your niche. Find out what works for them, and what doesn’t work. How much money do they spend on marketing, and how much time do they spend on social media? Knowing what works in your industry, and then implementing it in your business will help your business grow.

3. Establish Your Online Presence

It is a rare company today that does not have at least a website. Social media is here to stay, and learning how to use it correctly can only help you connect with more people that you never would have reached otherwise. If you don’t already have one, consider building a website and at least one social media account to establish your online presence.

4. Grow Your Email List

The hardest part about running a small business is converting prospects into actual customers, and then get them to return for more. The easiest way to do this is to create a loyal following of customers by growing your email list. These are people who have subscribed to your online content and will be more likely to buy your online products over and over again.

5. Develop a Product

The easiest way your small business can make money and grow significantly is to develop an original product, especially one that has little overhead. Online products, such as courses or ebooks, are fantastic products to sell that do not cost much to make, but the return can be substantial. Developing your own product means that you get to keep all of the profits, and not just a small commission for selling someone else’s products. More profits going back into your business means more money you can put towards developing more products, advertising, or even hiring a staff. More profits means your business is growing.

Acquiring capital, doing market research, establishing your online presence, and developing an original product are great ways to grow your small business.

8 Ways Small Business Owners Can Secure Government Funding

Government grants for small businesses are a great source of funds for start-up entrepreneurs. Because grants are not debt or equity, entrepreneurs don’t have to repay the money or surrender ownership to attract these funds. Unfortunately, small businesses owners are often overwhelmed by the complex application processes. The following tips can help you tap into government grants.

1. Apply to lesser-known funds

Competition is very high for a fraction of the programs, particularly since some government grants are more popular than others. Hundreds of the not-so-popular funding programs will, therefore, have trouble attracting applicants, as a result of which they are often under-subscribed. However, you’ll improve your odds further if you don’t apply to the same funds as every other applicant. Fortunately, funding search tools that can be used to identify these lesser-known funds are now available online.

2. Highlight how your small business contributes to the economy

In your application, demonstrate how the funds received will help build the economy. Increasing your company’s revenue is not the government’s main objective. As such, the government has to ensure taxpayer dollars are used in a way they will bring socio-economic benefits like the creation of jobs and advancement of regional development.

3. Collaborate with industry leaders

For some government grants, partnering with large corporate applicants is the only way small businesses can attract commercialization and R&D funding. As such, you can increase your eligibility for larger grants by building networks and partnerships within your industry.

4. Explore different types of funding

Many small business owners know about R&D tax credits. However, very few are familiar with the various funding programs available at municipal, provincial, and federal levels. Since new government grants for small businesses are announced on a regular basis, staying informed is important.

5. Present a winning case

The government supports businesses that have achievable short and long-term objectives. To attract the more substantial funding commitments, companies need to have a 3-year strategy at the very least. In your application, show how the funds can help you achieve your company’s goals and ensure overall success.

6. Apply to multiple funds

Small businesses are usually eligible for several different types of government funding. Applying to multiple programs increases your chances of securing a government grant, especially if you base your strategy on facts, data, and analytics.

7. Pay attention to the details

Approximately 80 percent of government grant applications do not make it beyond the screening stage. Failure to meet the basic compliance criteria is cited as the main reason for rejection at this stage. You can improve your chances of success by hiring the services of an expert who understands the eligibility requirements and priorities.

8. Expand your online toolkit

You can use online tools to match your company with the best-suited government grants for small businesses like yours. These tools can aggregate and rank funding programs, reducing the amount of time it would take to search for a suitable grant and opening up a variety of viable funds for your organization.

4 Top Reasons Small Businesses Fail

Starting a business, every business owner wants to succeed, but most small businesses often fail at the infancy stage. Unfortunately, statistics show that the numbers of young companies that are going out of business are growing by the day. The failure, unfortunately, cuts across the board from manufacturing, retail to construction. The reasons these small businesses fail are numerous. However, we are going to explore four of the main ones.

1. Insufficient capital

Capital has been cited as the number one reason small businesses do not succeed. Most governments have realized this cause and have started the government grants for small businesses as an initiative to try save businesses. Lucky entrepreneurs who qualify for the grant stand better chances of succeeding than those who do not receive any. Other institutions such as banks have also come up with incentives to offer loans and other financial instruments to support the small growing businesses. Lack of cash flow management skills has also been cited as a financial challenge. For instance, a starting entrepreneur can take a loan and fail how to effectively allocate it to aid the business needs.

2. Poor planning

More often than not, small business owners are caught up in their financial freedom dream that they fail to invest in skills that are necessary to run a business. Failure to plan accordingly is detrimental; it is often said that failure to plan is planning to fail. A business plan is important when starting a business; unfortunately, very few budding business owners create one. In addition, they just get into business with enthusiasm that they fail to do proper market research that would enable them to draft strategies to deal with competition.

3. Wrong Reasons

Starting a business should be about passion or filling in a market gap. However, most people get to business for all the wrong reasons. Some will get to business so as not to report to a manager. Failure will come when they realize they lack the acumen to run a business successfully despite having the right skills. It is important to first understand the reason you want to start your small business; the fact that you dislike your boss will not cut it. Soon the enthusiasm will fade away, and you will have a failing business.

4. Poor marketing

Starting a business is not enough; you need to let your clients know that you exist. You need to understand what it is you are selling and come up with effective marketing strategies. Most people will fail to know where to meet their clients; for instance, if your potential clients spend most of their time on social media sites then that is where you need to advertise. Create a working marketing strategy and stick to it. Marketing is not an expense; it is an investment, so invest.

5 of the Best Small Business Tips

1. Talk with other business owners who run a similar business to your own

They may know more about government grants for small businesses. Find out what is working for them, and don’t be shy about sharing with them the successes you have made. There are enough customers to go around. Network with everyone you meet, including your customers. You never know who you might come across. Always have a business card to hand out or a story to tell. People will remember you and want to visit your business more often. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and participate in as many gatherings as you can manage. Getting to know other business owners in your community can help you enormously.

2. Market your business in places your customers will find you

Every business owner knows they need to market their business, but where? Marketing can be especially expensive. With social media as the newest platform, it is easy to post something every day that your customers can use. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many others can help you gain popularity within your demographic, and allow you to advertise specials daily if you wanted to. Pay attention to which platforms work best, and focus on them. You can also use your local newspapers, news stations, local radio stations, and even local businesses that may want to advertise your business, to their customers, for a trade of some kind. Keep marketing fun, for you and your customers, and they will want to look for more of what you have to offer.

3. Whatever you do, do not give up on your business

The first few years are always hard for new businesses. Plan, monetarily, for your business to be slow for the first couple of years. If you have a few great months, save your money for the months that could be slow. Always put back into your business. Learn to live frugally for a few years, waiting for your business to flourish. Find people to surround yourself with who can offer advice and positive feedback to any doubts you might be feeling. There can be people close to you who may doubt your dream of making your business a success, and you’ll have to reassure them, without allowing for their negativity to affect your decision making. Learn more about government grants for small businesses.

4. Ask your customers what they think about their experience in your establishment

There is no better way to find out how you are doing than from your customers themselves. Take their opinions to heart, without taking offense. These are the people you would like to return over and over again. Offer your customers something for their opinion, even if it is a coupon or piece of candy. Let them know you want to make improvements for them, and you are listening to their needs. The next time they come in, ask them what they think of the changes you have made. This will create a stronger relationship between yourself and your very necessary clientele.

5. Be Grateful for every customer that walks through your door and for every opportunity that comes your way

It is easy to become pessimistic when you only have a handful of customers each day, but instead of looking at the glass half empty, remind yourself that a few customers is better than no customers. Look for ways to show your appreciation to your customers. You can do this by sending hand written notes, a display of fresh flowers inside of your establishment every week, incredible customer service each and every time, etc.. Your business will flourish with gratitude, hard work, and a positive attitude.