May 20th, 2015
Starting a new business or expanding a pre-existing one can be an expensive endeavour. Tapping into the wealth of government grants can be a big help during this process. Granted, many entrepreneurs would concede that finding and acquiring government funding can be complicated and time-consuming. Luckily, these entrepreneurs have shared some of their missteps so that you may flourish where they’ve faltered.
Tip #1 – Know Your Audience
Typically, applicants use too much industry-related jargon or technical expertise in their grant applications. Keep in mind that the person reading your grant proposal works at a government funding agency and likely has little understanding of the more technical aspects of your business. Keep it clear, concise, and accessible.
There is a reliable way to communicate effectively: once you’ve finished writing your first draft, read it over and edit out any technical language that someone outside your industry might not understand. Take care to explain any acronyms you use, if you can’t avoid them altogether.
Tip #2 – Be Pedantic
Entrepreneurs often become over-excited with emphasizing their strengths and hope that funders will overlook abnormalities in their application. The problem is that funders are legally required to adhere to a specific list of guidelines. No matter how strong your strengths are, if you don’t follow the relevant regulations you might find yourself passed over in favour of an inferior application. The truth is that funders report that around 80% of applications are rejected for failing to comply with regulations.
The best way to avoid falling into this trap is to scrutinize your eligibility criteria and document checklist. Never assume that almost qualifying is good enough.
Tip #3 – Specific is Good
Most companies apply for the same handful of well-known funding programs. This can lead to intense competition for those grants, and that doesn’t help your case.
To move beyond this, conduct a detailed search for funding programs open to your business. Refine your results by searching for funds that cater to your specific objectives (increasing staff, research and development, etc.) Online tools and companies that assist in grant writing can help to home-in on these more specific funds.
Tip #4 – Dig In
Applicants can wrongly assume that the information on a funder’s website or form is complete or up-to-date. The reality is that programs change frequently with shifts in public policy or economic priority that may not be properly reflected.
It’s time to roll up your sleeves and dig into the fund that’s piqued your interest. Conduct as much research as possible. News releases and contacts in the business community can be of help. Take an extra step and research the fund’s disbursement history to see which company benefited in previous offerings. Their success can inform yours!
Tip #5 – Diversify, diversify, diversify
Overconfidence can be your downfall. Don’t think that applying to one fund means your job is done. Companies that boast a history of success in securing government funding are experts in diversification. For them, securing funding is part of their financial strategy and is taken seriously. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket by applying to a single fund. If your company qualifies, then apply.