How to write a small business grant application

How to write a small business grant application

Amy Beardsley
By Amy Beardsley
May 2, 2024
1 min read

Fueling the dreams of a small business requires resources and funding. If you know how to write a small business grant application, it can help provide the financial backing you need to jumpstart your next project.

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How to prepare your small business grant application

A few pre-application steps can help increase your chance of securing funding. Here’s how to prepare:

  • Pinpoint your company needs: Figure out what your business requires to reach its goals. It’ll help you target the right grant opportunities.
  • Gather business documentation: Locate financial statements, tax returns and your business plan. Including this detailed business information can help make you a stronger applicant.
  • Understand the grant requirements: Grant awards often come with strings attached. Some are targeted at specific groups, such as veterans or nonprofits. Others require funds to be used for a specific purpose and mandate documentation.

Grant applications can take longer than other small business funding options. It can take months for the grantor to select a proposal, and even longer before you see any funds.

6 steps to write a grant proposal for a small business

Once you find a small business grant that aligns with your aspirations, the next step is to put together a persuasive proposal. Clarity and simplicity are essential.

1. Review the instructions carefully

Review the grant instructions to understand what you must include in your proposal. It’s different from qualifying for a small business loan, and missing information can lead to rejection. Follow the directions and tailor your proposal for the grant provider.

2. Write an executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of why you need the award, how much it will cost, and how you’ll carry out the project. Typically, this section is only a few paragraphs long.

3. Highlight the need

Your needs statement is the cornerstone of your grant proposal. It explains why your project is important. It’s crucial to highlight the magnitude of the issue and your unique approach to resolving it.

Don’t skimp on the details. Provide concrete data and detailed plans. Stick with simple language to make it easy to understand, especially for those unfamiliar with your industry.

4. Describe your project

When describing your project, focus on clarity. Outline your project’s goals using clear, measurable outcomes. Include detailed information, such as:

  • The project timeline and budget
  • Your industry experience
  • Why you’re the best fit for the grant/project
  • Team size, roles and resources needed
  • Community members who will benefit from the project
  • Key metrics and how you’ll measure success

This section of the small business grant application lets you showcase your unique vision and growth for your company. However, keep sight of the granting organization’s objectives. Connect your project goals with the grantor’s goals to make your proposal stand out.

5. Lay out a budget

Break down your spending plan into clear categories and be specific about how you’ll use the grant funds. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when laying out your project’s budget:

  • Organize information with tables and figures
  • Clearly label each amount
  • Stay within the funding limits set by the granting organization
  • Double (and triple!) check your numbers for accuracy

Your budget can also include a statement defending the validity and importance of each cost, material and equipment.

6. Additional documentation

Other materials to include in your grant application include:

  • A cover letter to introduce yourself and your business and show your passion for the project.
  • A mission statement.
  • Your business plan.
  • Financial statements and tax status information.
  • Letters of support from partner organizations.

The 5 most common business grant application mistakes

Common pitfalls of small business grant applications include:

  1. Missing documents: Without them, your application might not even get a glance.
  2. Skimpy budget details: Be crystal clear about where the grant money will go. Don’t just give a ballpark figure — break it down.
  3. Irrelevant information: More isn’t always better. Keep your proposal concise and relevant. Avoid fluff.
  4. Unspecific applications: No two grants are identical. Don’t simply recycle an old proposal. Customize each one to fit the grant’s unique requirements.
  5. Incorrect eligibility: Before pouring your effort into an application, make sure you’re eligible. It’ll save you a lot of time and disappointment.

Like an application for any type of business loan, a well-written business grant application highlights both your commitment and your potential. Treat every grant as a new opportunity to let your business shine.

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Amy Beardsley
About the author

Amy Beardsley, insurance expert and contributing writer at NEXT Insurance, is a content marketing writer who specializes in small business coverage. Leveraging her background in the legal field, Amy brings a deep understanding of laws, regulations, and compliance requirements to her work. As a content marketing writer since 2016, she has contributed to publications like Legal & General, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, Insurify, and NerdWallet. Her work has also appeared in CNBC, Kiplinger, and US News. When she’s not writing, Amy enjoys playing cards with her family and experimenting with new recipes.

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