Jump-start your company with Grants for Small Businesses
The entrepreneurial spirit has taken over the world. Millions of people are deciding to quit their 9-5 jobs with the goal of starting and developing the next big thing. This is very inspiring, which has brought to the market many new products and services that we enjoy today.
If you’re among those who want to offer something new to the world, you need to find the right way to start a business. Unless you already have enough funds to turn your idea into reality, this means thinking about business loans.
Thankfully, there’s a better solution – business startup grant. Does ‘free money’ sound appealing? Of course, it does. Well, this is exactly what you can expect if you qualify. Grants can make your financial dreams come true, without burdening you with repayment. The best news is, there are many ways to get one.
Let’s say you’re a UK citizen and you want to receive a grant. There are so many places where you can look for one. For example, you can apply for the Horizon 2020, organised by the EU, or a variety of grants that the UK government allocated. There are also many grants specific to the industry you’re in, as well as your local government.
Should You Look for a Government Grant?
If you’re in need of a grant, the government should be the first place to turn to. There’s a great number of grant bodies that will support a good business idea, so the only thing you have to do is a bit of research.
If you’re doing anything technology-related, you’re lucky, as the government is more than happy to give grants to tech startups. If not, it might be harder to get one, but it’s certainly not impossible.
What you need to keep in mind is that the government will give a grant to those who intend to spend it on something that will benefit the country. This means that not everyone will be eligible for a grant. To become eligible, you need to show that the money will be used the right way.
The obvious benefit of getting a grant from your government is free money that you can use to grow your business. Another great thing about them is that there’s enough of them for business owners to avoid loans that can burden their budget.
Still, qualifying for a government grant isn’t easy. There are different factors to consider, depending on the type of grant you need, since not every grant body operates in the same fashion. To prove this, let’s go over some examples:
Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme
The government supports high-speed broadband connections, which is why this grant is perfect for small businesses that want to operate in this field. You can get up to £3,000 for the connection costs. It’s available to businesses in different locations in the UK, and anyone who could use the help can apply.
The organizer of the grant is the DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport), so you can contact them for more information.
If you’re working in the construction industry, the Construction Industry Training Board (CTIB) can offer a variety of helpful grants. You can get Advanced Craft Certificate grants, Apprenticeship grants, and other kinds of grants that can make running your business easier.
The only thing you need to ensure is that your business is registered with CITB, and you can then work out the details with them. Many grants are training-oriented so this can be a great way of ensuring you have highly-qualified and skilled staff.
Childcare Business Grants Scheme
If you’re setting up a childminder business, the Department of Education can help you out. They can give you £300, £500 or £1,000 to help you pay for different courses and insurances. The requirements that you need to meet are being registered with Ofsted or a CMA (childminder agency) for less than three months, having an early years registration certificate, and offering 30 hours of childcare for 3 and 4yo children.
Signpost 2 Grants
No matter the kind of business you’re running, if you need to make a capital investment, this grant will cover up to 20% of the entire project cost. You’ll be eligible if:
- You employ less than 250 people
- Your business is located in the East of England
- You want to make a capital investment
- You plan on growing further
You can get anywhere from £1,000 to £20,000 to finance your capital investment.
Take Advantage of EU Opportunities
The European Union invests heavily into startups. This is for the obvious benefits of successful startups in the member countries. If you’re looking to contribute to the mutual good, there are a lot of options that you can choose from.
Some of the categories that are eligible for a grant include:
- European SMEs or startups
- Non-profits or NGOs
- Public bodies
Aside from this, each grant body has its own requirements that you have to meet. There are a lot of them out there, so you only need to find the one that supports your goals the best. Keep in mind that the application process can be tedious at times. However, it’s definitely worth it, since an approval can really give your business a leg up.
Here are some grants that the EU offers:
The Copernicus Startup Programme
This programme has been helping all kinds of aspiring businesses grow for years now. They often organize competitions to assess whether they should give a grant to a business. Students, entrepreneurs, and startups can apply and be eligible for very valuable prizes.
The grants come in the form of cash, technical assistance, business incubation, and many others. They support all kinds of businesses so you might want to contact them to see if there’s anything for you.
Galileo Startup Programme
If you’re in the business of satellite navigation, this programme might be perfect for you. It offers all kinds of support to new businesses, and anyone from all across Europe can apply. Here are some of the things they offer:
- Grant and funding
- Business incubation
- Business coaching
- Technical support
- Marketing support
- Patent consulting
So if you’ve ever thought about running a satellite communication business, this programme might be a great choice. There’s a 1 million euro pool so you can get sizable funds to offset the cost of starting your business.
Augmented and virtual reality are hot topics these days. They mark a new era of tech that many businesses are working on developing. If you’re one of them, the European Space Agency can help you launch your business. One of their events, starting in mid-January, offers entrepreneurs a chance to turn their idea into a huge business. Here’s what they offer:
- up to €60K in cash per activity
- A personalised ESA consultant
- Technical & commercial guidance
- Credibility of the ESA brand
If you’ve got a VR/AR-related idea that you want to show to the world, this is a perfect chance to do it.
If you’re not a follower but rather someone that thinks they can create the next big thing, the SME Instrument is for you. As part of the European Innovation Council pilot, this programme gives entrepreneurs a chance to showcase their ground-breaking ideas.
Currently, there’s €1.6 billion of funding available for SME instrument to support the most innovative ideas. All members of the EU are eligible. Here’s what’s on the table:
- Business innovation grants – €50,000 per project for feasibility assessment, €500,000 to €2.5 million for development and demonstration.
- Free business coaching
- A variety of business support services
Of course, the number of available grants is much larger than the above, so there’s a very high chance that you can find one that matches your business needs. All it takes is some research and you’ll be on your way to receiving the support from the EU.
Look at local resources as well
Each local government has their own grant options. No matter where you are, there’s a high chance that the local government has something for you. When it comes to eligibility, the criteria can vary since each local government has its own set of rules.
Let’s take London as an example. If you’re a business in Greater London, the Enterprise Europe Network can offer a lot of valuable help. They offer support services that will help you grow and expand your business internationally.
Here are some of the services that they provide:
- Finding the right research, development and innovation partners
- Funding and finance assessment
- Assessment and planning of your internal resources
Another great example is Business Compass Start Up. Located in Tees Valley, they help all businesses in this area by offering tailored support packages. You can receive grants, training, and all kinds of support. The only requirement is that you’re in Tees Valley and that you’re creating jobs in the priority sectors.
Alternative sources – competitions and incubators
Business incubators are a great resource for helping your business grow. Essentially, an incubator is a company or an organisation that offers all the services you need to grow your business. Their goal is to nurture young businesses that deserve attention so they can grow large and profitable.
The most common incubators are large private companies, as well as public institutions such as universities. They provide office space, training, and all kinds of other services that help a new business grow.
London-based Bethnal Green Ventures is an example of a great incubator. They offer programs to startups that want to develop social innovations. The program lasts three months, and the startup gets everything it needs to create a sustainable innovation.
Bethnal Green invests heavily in the startups and provides various types of support to ambitious entrepreneurs. The best thing is, anyone can join. As long as you want to make a change, this incubator can accept you.
Competitions are another great way of getting the grant you need. Governments along with many other institutions and organisations create them to find the next business worth helping out. The prizes can vary, from cash to incubation and support.
The Small Business Grants competition is a good example. It’s organised every month and startups from all over the UK can apply.
You can receive a £5,000 grant that will help you cover the expenses of starting your business. You can apply every three months, even if you don’t get it at first.
As you can see, there are a ton of ways to get a grant for your small business. Long gone are the days when funding was the main problem, as there are many institutions that will pay for a good idea. What you have to do is think of one, then explore all the available options.
Go with government and EU programs first, as they give you a chance to meet a lot of influential people that can help you grow a business. If there are currently no such grants available, there are other places for you to look for funding.
No matter which options you decide to go with, here are some universal tips that will help you along:
- Apply as soon as you can – The best thing to do would be to apply for a grant as soon as it opens up. The grant body will have the full amount at its disposal, and you might get ahead of the competition.
- Talk to a grant consultant – Finding and getting the right grant can take a lot of effort. This is why a grant consultant can be very helpful in identifying and applying for a grant.
- Make sure your business hasn’t progressed far before applying – Grant institutions want to see that you need their help to develop your business. This is why you should apply while you have a fledgling business or even before you start it.
- Always be honest – Never lie on your grant application. If there’s something about your business that prevents you from getting the grant, then the grant isn’t for you and you should look elsewhere.
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