Grant application. As a small business owner, how do you feel about those two words?
Have you ever considered applying for a grant to support your business? Or is the idea squarely outside of your comfort zone? Either way, the idea of completing a grant application can be a truly daunting prospect. But one that, if successful, can lead to your business being propelled forward at a rate far quicker than if you were working completely alone.
So if grants are new to you, or you’re aware of them, but aren’t sure where to get started, this blog is for you! In it, I share the tips that I’ve learned over 13+ years of grant experience in the hope that they will a) give you the confidence to try to apply and b) help you put pen to paper, and get started.
This is an important one, as while there are many different types of grant out there, not all are suitable for every business. And not all funders are suitable for every business. Local councils, for example, will have very different interests to an organisation like UKRI. Some grants are fairly open in scope. Others are very restricted. Your business will be eligible for some opportunities. Not for others. So take some time to look at the kinds of funding opportunities that are appropriate for you and your business, and those that are aligned best with your reasons for seeking a grant in the first place.
When you find what you think might be an appropriate source of funding, the provider will publish things like eligibility criteria, scope and information on what their grant can (and equally as importantly, can’t) be spent on. It’s absolutely vital that you and understand read all of this, plus any Terms and Conditions, carefully. And when you’re not sure on something – seek clarification. After all, nobody wants to waste time putting an application together, only to find that they are actually ineligible for support.
Never just ‘start’, and hope that you get the answers ‘right’. You may only get one shot at this, so take time to plan your application carefully. Make sure you can respond to all of the funder’s requirements clearly. Be sure that you have all your bases covered. Take time to gather all of the information that you need to complete the application to a good standard. For example, if you’re asked what difference the grant will make to your projected turnover in the coming year, don’t just guess. Work it out and provide quantifiable evidence for your forecast.
This is an important one. The vast majority of funders, if not all, will need you to report on what you have achieved with their grant, and the difference that it’s made to your business. So they will be looking to support businesses which are most likely to achieve good things as a result of their intervention! As a result, the devil is in the detail when it comes to your grant application. For example, it’s one thing to say that you will achieve additional revenue as a result of the funding. But how much revenue are we talking? And not just how much. Where is that revenue going to come from? And what evidence can you provide to show that the original figure is achievable? By providing evidence, you are taking the funder on a journey from where you are now, to a detailed snapshot of where you hope to be. And most importantly, how their grant is going to help you get there.
My fifth tip, and in my view this is probably one of, if not the, most important… be honest. It’s so important to be accurate in the statements that you’re making, and this really does lend a huge level of authenticity to the story that you tell in the application. If you over-inflate figures, or include statements that ‘will be true at some point soon…’, you’re not only deceiving the funder, but also potentially preventing a more worthy applicant from being successful. The same is true when it comes to how much you ask for. The default position shouldn’t be the maximum available – just ask for what you actually need. And with honesty comes confidence and authenticity, and a clear, cohesive message to the potential funder.
I hope that’s a helpful insight into the world of grant applications, but if you have questions, why not get in touch?