No matter what stage your business is at, there may be times when you’re considering the benefits of applying for grants or funding – whether direct grants from the government or crowdfunding online or in your local community.
The process of winning grants and other funding usually means you’ll need to put a fair amount of work in. This can include actively applying for the grants, carefully ensuring your application is up to scratch, and double-checking you’re actually eligible to apply (so checking this beforehand could save you some time!)
We’ll look at what types of grants are available, along with some tips on how to apply.
What are business grants?
A business grant is a sum of money awarded to a business to help it grow and develop. They can be used to help with general costs, or they can be given to a business for a specific purpose – such as learning and development, new equipment, or even for launching a new brand.
These grants are often awarded by government schemes or bodies, organisations, and even other companies.
Where can I find business grants?
Doing a spot of online research is a good place to start. If you live in the UK, head over to the GOV.UK website to find government grants as a starting point. You can enter keywords to help target your search, for example, ‘start-up businesses’, or ‘Liverpool business’, to find potential grants you may qualify for.
You can also check what’s available in your local community. As an example, if you’re based in London, you can head over to The London Community Foundation for their available grants.
It’s always worth checking your local council too, and networking to find companies who may be offering grants to small businesses like yours.
For example, if you’re a member of a partnership, you won’t qualify for the Seeds Enterprise Investment Scheme, and if you’re over 30, you won’t qualify for The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme.
What types of grants are there for my business?
There are a variety of grants out there, and each of them have different purposes. Some give you the freedom to spend the money where you see fit, while others are for funding a specific project – such as expanding your marketing department, or a budget to give all members of staff a laptop. We’ll have a look at a few common grants:
Grants for start-ups
Starting a new business is tough, and sometimes you need funding to help push your business in the right direction. Many companies, as well as the government, offer start-up grants to help your business grow and even offer things like free equipment and training.
The most common start-up grant is a ‘direct grant’ from the government. This can be great for reaching new markets or upskilling your team. You can find direct government grants on the GOV website.
There are other start-up grants available depending on your area. For example, on the government finance page at the moment, there’s a ‘Business Growth Grant Scheme’ in Mansfield, as well as one in Scarborough.
There are also grants available specifically for businesses located in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – simply type your country in the search bar to see grant schemes near you (what’s available will vary depending on what time you look).
Always keep up to date with the government finance page and check regularly if places like your local council are offering funding.
Matched funding grants
These are particularly popular for nonprofit organisations. It normally involves pitching your project to a social bank, trust, foundation, or another type of organisation. If awarded, they will ‘match’ any funding you already have from other sources.
In other words, for you to qualify and receive funds, you’ll need to contribute a certain amount and then the organisation will ‘match’ it. It isn’t always a 50% match though – some organisations may ask you for less, (such as 20%), towards the amount you’ve asked for.
There are different types of match funding grants, so always do your research first to see what’s out there and what is best suited to you.
This is a grant you’ll receive for something specific. For example, funding market research to expand your brand overseas, or renovating your office. When you receive a dedicated grant, it can only be used for exactly what it has been granted for – which is why good bookkeeping software can help ensure every single penny is spent correctly.
How do I apply for business grants?
With a lot of them, you can apply online and follow the instructions to fill out any forms provided. You do need to ensure you’re prepared first though, so here are some tips for securing a business grant:
Do your research and have a solid business plan
In order to find a grant, you’ll need to do your research first and ensure you’re eligible. Once you’ve ticked all the boxes, you can then begin to build a solid business plan around the mission/objective of the grant.
Now you’ve found a grant you’re interested in, it’s time to network! You can start by getting in touch with the grant body to assess your chances. Reach out to them personally and if you can, attend networking events they’ll be at. Always have a compelling pitch at the ready – you never know when the opportunity will arise to showcase your plans.
Pay close attention to the grant objectives
Why is the organisation or government offering the grant? What are the key objectives? You need to understand these key factors first in order to create a good application. Ensure you make it clear you know the objectives and you want to achieve them too – grants are all about the grant giver and the receiving business having a common goal.
Apply as early as you can
The more organised you are, the better – but don’t rush your application! Ensure it’s timely, yet thorough.
How do I effectively monitor the impact grants have on my business?
In order to see your progress, you first need to track it! When it comes to grants, it’s important to keep a log of where the money is being spent within your bookkeeping.
This is good business practice, but also comes in handy if anyone asks to see financial reports showing how their money is being spent and whether it’s being spent correctly.
This type of reporting is also useful if you look for other grants in the future because you’ll be able to highlight how successful previous grants have been. A simple way to track the funds you have from a particular source is by creating a separate category or project for them in your bookkeeping software.
For example, Pandle Projects allows you to tag transactions relating to a specific project – helping you both monitor and report on things like how much has been spent from that particular pot of money, and what it’s been spent on. You can have different projects on the go, too. For example, ‘Funding for employee training’ or ‘£20,000 for marketing resources.’
This helps you ensure you stay compliant with the grant conditions, and also keeps any funding bodies updated if this is a condition of being awarded the money.
If you’re looking for efficient bookkeeping software to manage your grants, you’ve come to the right place! Create your free Pandle account today and see how we can help you.