When securing funding for your small business, it is important to consider all routes. Business grants are a popular option for small businesses, as grants do not have to be paid back and there are a large number of grants available both at a national and local level.
To successfully secure a grant you’ll have to write an application. This application explains why your business deserves the grant and proves your business’ viability. Read on to learn the specifics of what is required in a grant application and how to write a successful one.
Step 1: Research Grant Opportunities
Start by researching the various grant programs and funding options available in the UK. Some popular grants for small businesses include the Small Business Grant Fund, Innovate UK grants, and regional grants offered by local authorities. Thoroughly examine each program’s eligibility criteria, funding amounts, and application deadlines to identify the most suitable ones for your business. You can also read our round-up here.
Step 2: Understand the Application Requirements
Each grant application will have its own set of guidelines and requirements, make sure you understand what they require before planning your application. Make sure you are eligible for the grant before starting your application.
Pay close attention to the specific documentation, such as business plans, financial statements, and market research, that you may need to submit. Make a checklist of all the necessary materials to make sure you have everything you need before starting your application.
Step 3: Craft a Compelling Business Plan
A well-crafted business plan is essential for any grant application. A good business plan will outline your business concept, mission, vision, target market, and unique selling points. It will also include details about your products or services, marketing strategies, and financial projections.
And of course, your company type, it may be in your best interest to incorporate your business before applying for grants to show legitimacy and that you’re a professional business. Most grants will only be applicable to Limited companies over sole traders or individuals. Therefore, make sure your company is formed and legally registered and compliant.
In a grant application, you want to emphasise how the grant funds will contribute to the growth and success of your business. If you already have a business plan, revise and update it to align with the grant application requirements. Go beyond illustrating how the money will have an impact, but mention how the prestige of having the grant will boost your company’s visibility or reputation.
Step 4: Demonstrate Financial Viability
Grant providers are interested in supporting businesses that show financial viability and sustainability. Prepare financial statements, including profit and loss statements and projections, cash flow statements, and balance sheets. Provide accurate and up-to-date information to demonstrate your business’s financial health and potential for growth. Make sure your tax and company filings (confirmation statements, annual accounts) are up to date, your grant provider may run a company credit check to ensure you’re a legitimate business.
Step 5: Highlight the Impact on the Community and Economy
Many grant programs prioritise businesses that have a positive impact on the local community or the broader economy. Clearly outline how your business contributes to job creation, skills development, environmental sustainability, or social initiatives. Explain how the grant funds will enable you to expand your operations and make a meaningful difference.
Step 6: Address the Selection Criteria
Most grant applications have specific selection criteria that evaluators use to assess applications. Pay close attention to these criteria and address each one in your application. For example, if your grant is city specific talk about the influence and advantage your city has on your business. Make sure that you provide concrete examples and evidence to support your claims. If the criteria include references or endorsements, reach out to clients, partners, or industry experts who can vouch for your business and request their support.
Step 7: Proofread and Review
Before submitting your application, proofread it thoroughly to eliminate any grammar or spelling errors. Ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and professional but still an example of your business’ brand personality. It might be useful to ask someone else to review your application for a fresh perspective and catch any mistakes you might have missed. Most importantly, make sure you submit all the required documents and meet the application deadline- maybe put a calendar alert in your diary to make sure you don’t miss it.
Step 8: Follow Up
After submitting your grant application, follow up with the grant provider to confirm that they have received it and inquire about the evaluation timeline. It is good practice to express your thanks for the opportunities and may even set you apart!
Keep in mind that the evaluation process can take time, so be patient. If you receive a rejection, don’t be discouraged. Seek feedback to improve your application for future opportunities. Most grants recur annually, some even have rolling deadlines, you may be able to apply for the same grant more than once. So it is important to ask for feedback!
Writing a grant application for your small business requires careful preparation, attention to detail, and clear communication of your business’ value. We hope our guide has been helpful to you, and you’re ready to tackle your grant application!