Grants can be a real boon to help small businesses to establish a solid trading foundation and grow to new heights. However, with such a wide plethora of possible grants, and with schemes popping up and disappearing constantly, the small business owner must know what grants are available to them today. And how to apply for success.
To qualify for a grant, your company must fit specific criteria which can include one or more of size, location and type of business. Here are some solid tips to help you identify and prepare to apply for grants that might be suitable for your business:
National And Regional Grants
Typically, this type of grant will be provided to companies within the investment, innovation and energy/environment fields (or projects directly related to them).
If your business sets up shop within a geographical location within the UK that is struggling economically (characterized by industrial decline and/or rampant unemployment), you could be eligible for a grant by setting up and fulfilling specific criteria (such as employing a certain number of people within the region). The size of the grant will depend on the size of your organization and how fiscally deprived the area you locate in is considered to be.
Grants that are awarded for innovation are typically for companies that engage in sizable research and development projects, while energy/environment grants can be switched on when a company parlays cash to make their buildings more energy efficient, or take on expenses directly designed to reduce pollution.
Aside from the categories above, many other industry specific grant types are also available – take your pick from rural diversification, tourism, agriculture and crafts among others. Specific grants are also available to companies to help them export more.
How To Identify Suitable Grants
Figuring out if you’re actually eligible for a grant can be a tricky and time consuming business. You could search the web all day, and not really be any the wiser, as grant information online can be a sketchy collection at best. Here’s what to do to get the answers you need:
- If you’re searching online, the Gov.UK site site can be a good starting point – especially the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.
- Talk to your accountant if you have one. A good accountant will be able to do more than just balance the books and send scary letters about how much tax you need to stump up – they should be able to offer advice and strategies to facilitate growth and financial efficiencies, including information on suitable grants.
- Some accountants and consultants can offer advice on suitable grants, and will help fill out any application forms and paperwork for a fee. For a chunky grant, this can be money well spent.
Some More Helpful Grant Tips
Careful preparation is often the key to success with obtaining grants. Keep in mind that whatever the project you wish to obtain grant funding for, your company will almost certainly have to put in a large portion of the total spend using its own financing. 100% grants are extremely rare. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the department that is offering the grant will have its own objectives – you’ll need to devise a project plan that shows the grant provider how your project will help their departmental objectives.