Anyone can have a great idea for a business, but great ideas don’t mean that that person has the money to realise it. My name is Jeremy Powers and this post is about grants for awesome innovative ideas for businesses and what you can do if your idea isn’t grant-worthy.
If you’re thinking of running an online business, you should know that the application process for grants available is, unfortunately, still rather murky. It would therefore take you quite a bit of time before you can find the option suitable for you. Make sure that you study the options available thoroughly before making any decisions as to whether the grants on offer would be appropriate for your idea and whether you need a grant at all. One of the grants available for online businesses is called Digital Development Fund, targeted at businesses that potentially explore the new global markets via the means of digital technology.
However, the Digital Development Fund option is not intended for start-ups and businesses that have previously operated offline-only and are thinking of going online– the grants intended for them are outside the scope of this post. It might even turn out that there are no grants available for your type of business, and you might have to look for funding options elsewhere. For example, you could attend industry events in order to find some investors or find a crowdfunding platform, if you feel that it would be the best alternative finance method for your company.
Grants are created by the government for the purposes of supporting businesses that would potentially offer a significant contribution to the relevant social and economic prospects in the region, so you should keep that in mind when you come up with potentially grant-worthy ideas. Businesses that use digital technology in order to offer these contributions can be very grant-worthy, but, as I said above, do your research prior to making any big financing decisions. Not everybody is going to have grant-worthy ideas, so it’s worth it to do at least some due diligence into the options you think might suit you.
That being said, don’t forget the cliché saying about “staying true to yourself”. Don’t completely dismiss your idea and fully revamp your business model just because there’s no grant available for your business idea. If you don’t think that your idea is grant-worthy, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. Before you consider funding, take the time to explore your idea more by, for example, attending relevant industry networking events or talking to the professionals. You might just get lucky at such an event and secure an investor, which would eliminate the need for a grant altogether. Grant applications are a sort of pitch, but it doesn’t make them your potential customers. Therefore, if it turns out that there are no grants available to you, don’t despair – instead, get out there, meet some clients that can actually bring your company revenue and learn more about what you can do with your idea.
If you have gotten lucky and come to a decision to apply for a grant after evaluating all the options available to you, there are some things you should know before beginning your application. First of all, no matter the type of grant, your application would be time-consuming and won’t be done in a single day. Second of all, you would have to prepare quite a few documents to be included in the applications. These documents might include, but are not limited to, a project proposal, cash flow projections, a business plan, and even a presentation to be given to the review board in certain circumstances. These documents take a lot of time to prepare and must be checked at least twice before submission. If you’re unsure that you would be able to prepare them yourself, don’t hesitate to employ your members of staff or outsource, if you can afford it. Third of all, you should make sure that you fully understand the submission process. You need to have the answers to the following questions:
Is the application submitted over the Internet or would you have to post your documents the old-fashioned way?
What are the deadlines for each stage of the submission process?
Are there any fees you should be aware of?
How are the fees paid?
And most importantly, how long would you have to wait for your application to be reviewed and decision to be made? The answer to this question would help you decide on how to proceed with the launch of the business and establish a rough timeline of the process.
You should also keep in mind that the sums of the grants might not cover everything you expect them to. The economy isn’t as stable as we’d like it to be, and some unexpected expenses would likely occur that aren’t covered by the grant. You should, therefore, ensure that you have sufficient funds to cover any expenses of the sort. I’d also advise you to consider using the grant for potential large-scale future projects or business development instead of spending it all within the first year of the launch.
The first year after the launch of a company is said to be the hardest, even if you have secured the funding you needed. And while the economy isn’t a picnic right now, it’s only a single reason for the difficulties new entrepreneurs frequently face. These difficulties include figuring out your target audience on the trial and error basis, establishing new marketing and distribution channels for each marketing segment, and making decisions as to the extent of deviating from your original business plan for a variety of reasons. Grants and other sources of funding can help you with some of it by giving you some additional security in cases of business mistakes, but you should remember that grants don’t solve these mistakes, you do. The money is there to help you, not do your job for you. You’re the person that decides the direction of the business and the risks to be taken in order to enhance the performance of the company and grow and expand.