A wise person once said, “Experience is the best teacher.” This is a proven fact and therefore in this workshop, we’ll be dropping gems and tangible tips on how to raise capital for your small business! Along my entrepreneurial journey, one of the questions I’ve received more than on a few occasions is how I find and secure “free” money sources through grants. I’m compelled to share this information with others and not be a gatekeeper of resources, because along the way I’ve received help and assistance from others who wanted to see me succeed!
A key factor in that is collaboration, networking, and sharing of information with others. Erica Davis and Saria Hawkins-Banda are two successful businesswomen whom I respect and admire, and who have also become great friends. I met Saria while working (for the man) in corporate America, which led to me assisting her in the launch of her business, Manifest Your Purpose. Erica and I connected through the Goldman Sachs 10Ksb program, in the Summer of 2023. Her company, Annie Admin is a dream realized, after leaving the banking industry. Not only do we all share a passion for entrepreneurship, but combined we have amassed almost 300K in grant funds over the last few years. It’s safe to say that we might know a thing or two about getting to the money! Check out my latest win from Texas Women’s University here.
Check out our recent Workshop
Hear a candid conversation on our combined experience of applying for and WINNING grant funds to further our businesses.
Why You Should Pursue Grants for Your Small Business
So many times, a good idea, stays just that due to lack of funding. This fact is alarmingly apparent with black-owned and women-owned businesses, which are at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to capital. “Black/African American women face significant challenges due to lower earnings and wealth. Even when deemed a low credit risk, Black-owned businesses are less likely to be fully funded. Moreover, they have smaller networks that can point them to resources.” (Forbes) Again, the significance of knowledge and resource sharing can’t be stressed enough.
So, we know that there are various ways to fund a small business. Let’s talk about it!
- Bootstrapping. Bootstrapping is a method of starting and growing a business with little or no external funding or capital infusion. Instead of relying on external investors, loans, or venture capital, bootstrapping entrepreneurs use their own resources, such as personal savings, revenue generated by the business, and reinvested profits, to fund and expand their company.
- Loans/Credit Cards/Line of Credit. Of course with a loan, the funds are borrowed and paid back with interest over a specified time. A line of credit is extended by a bank or financial institution to a business or individual customer and enables the customer to withdraw from the line of credit when they need funds.
- Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a method of raising funds for a project, business, or cause by collecting small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. Instead of seeking funding from a single source, such as a venture capitalist or bank, crowdfunding relies on a “crowd” of individuals, each contributing a relatively small amount to support the initiative.
- Venture Capital. VC is a form of financing that is provided to early-stage, high-potential, and high-risk startups or companies to help them grow. Venture capitalists are professional investors who manage pooled funds from various sources, such as wealthy individuals, institutional investors, and corporations. These funds are then used to make equity investments in startups and emerging businesses that have the potential for significant growth and profitability.
You would be remiss to forego opportunities for grant funding, essentially because with a little work to research and apply, the result could be free money with no terms for repayment.
But wait, there’s more!
While grant funds alone are reason enough to invest time in applying, there are a plethora of other pros to securing grants for your small business. Many times companies sponsoring the grants will include other useful components for winners. Most notably, free resources such as mentorship, “courses”, and services that small businesses don’t always have the luxury of access to. Public relations/media opportunities could also be an outcome of winning a grant, which results in increased brand awareness. I’ve had several features in notable publications such as Inc Magazine and Essence resulting from grant wins.
Let’s Talk Tips!
- Know how to tell your brand story strategically. The brand is what you make it. You are the expert. Don’t be shy about it and keep the facts in line with your mission and goals. Be mindful to clearly define your target audience and the problem you’re solving.
- Know your numbers. While this can be daunting, it’s important and necessary! Be aware of your profit and loss, financial projections, and other KPIs relevant to your industry. Remember, no matter how you think they can be viewed, transparency and honesty is the best course when it comes to reporting your numbers.
- Specify a clear use of funds. Prepare to be able to outline how you plan to use the financial capital. For example, how much is budgeted for certain things, like marketing, hiring staff, and other initiatives that show your business’s growth potential. Present your business as the upward-moving venture that it is. Grant sponsors want to invest in thriving businesses, not sinking ships.
- Have your business foundation intact. This means having all the bones of your business established, including, your LLC, EIN, website, professional email address, and logo. Digital Marketing Maven and Associates specializes in these steps for small businesses and can assist you, no matter what stage you’re in regarding this process.
- Turn on Google Alerts. This small action allows you to stay in the loop and be alerted of grant opportunities, pitch competitions, and small business cohorts.
- Put everything in one folder. Organization is key to saving yourself from scrambling. You might be asked for LLC filing docs, profit and loss statements, business plans, tax returns and balance sheets, I recommend having them on hand in one place for a quicker application submission process.
- Have answers to common questions. When you have filled out a few grant applications, what you’ll quickly notice is that they are not all that different. Start to save these questions and your answers so that you can tweak and repurpose them later. You can also grab the Get Grant Ready worksheet to get a head start on this.
- Prepare a generic pitch video. Pre-record a general video of what your business is all about, where you see it going, and how you would use the grant funds if awarded. List out all your accomplishments, community work and what is the overall drive behind your brand. This gives companies a sense of who you are and what you’re about with a personal touch. You will probably need to create a new one from time to time based on grant application requirements, but in a time crunch it’s nice to have one ready to go – plus it’s great practice.
As I said in the beginning, experience is a teacher and Digital Marketing Maven & Associates has plenty of it! If you need help starting your business or fine-tuning your foundation or visual brand identity, contact us! We want to discuss where you’ve been able to take your business and where we can help you evolve!
- Schedule a business consultation with Sammi to get your brand’s foundation or digital presence in order.
- Grab the “Grant Ready Worksheet” for just $19.99 – Save yourself time and secure the resources you need to take your business to the next level with this easy-to-use grant and pitch competition worksheet! With pre-populated questions, you’ll be fully prepared to apply for the grants and programs that can help your business thrive. Get the edge on the competition and get ready with the Grant Ready Worksheet!
- What’s included:
- 25 Common Grant Application Questions
- Key Information to Keep Track Of
- A List of Documents to have Prepared
- What’s included:
- Schedule a 1:1 with Saria to pick her brain or get help with your pitch!
And in the spirit of sharing information, which has been essential to my success, make sure you take a look at these free online resources!