It’s hard to deny, everyone likes free money. Who wouldn’t!?
“Do you know of any grants that I could apply for?” is a question which I am asked regularly during 1-2-1 client meetings. The BIPC Northamptonshire has access to a database called Grantfinder – which does what it says on the tin.
This database isn’t however a magic wand, applying for a grant is usually a competitive process and so it is important that you do all you can to make the best of the opportunity when applying.
There isn’t a guaranteed formula for success, but below are some ‘top tips’ to consider when putting together your first grant application.
1 - Read the terms and conditions
First and foremost, if your business does not meet the basic eligibility criteria, no matter how strong your application, it will not be successful.
Each grant funder will have their own individual requirements and conditions for applications which are able to be approved. This may relate to the age of the business, its location, the sector which it trades, or even the specifics of how you intend to spend the finance should you be successful.
If there are any elements which you are unsure of, do not be afraid to contact the grant funder in advanced to gain clarity – it is in their interest to receive only suitable applications too!
1 - Create a solid business plan
Usually one of the most basic requirements for any grant funder is for them to see a copy of your business plan. This is the document which you will use to help tell them your story and justify that the business is in a viable position to be invested in.
The BIPC Northamptonshire deliver a dedicated workshop to support you with the creation of your business plan which can be booked via our website here.
2 - Tell grant funders what they want to hear, in a way they want to hear it
Along with a business plan, an application form will more than likely be required. The application form will be split in to two or three different sections with the first mainly requiring contact details, and the following sections focusing on the business itself.
The funder will be looking to check if your business’s focus and priorities match theirs - so do all you can to demonstrate that you align. For example, if the Business & IP Centre are asking you to explain the IP considerations your business has “N/A” is unlikely to help momentum swing in your favour.
(Intellectual Property is something that nearly every small business should consider. You can contact us via BIPC@westnorthants.gov.uk to arrange a free 1-2-1 to discuss the action you may need to take to protect your business, from an IP perspective).
It is also key to ensure that all information requested is supplied, and all instructions followed to the letter.
Most grant funders will be very heavily audited, especially if they are distributing public money. They will therefore be wary to approve an application which doesn’t conform with the rules. If you are faced with a 250 word limit do not be tempted to include 251!
3 - Know exactly how you will invest the money
Grant funders are not just giving away money for the fun of it.
They will have their own objectives as an organisation, and most of the time their own service will revolve around helping others break barriers / overcome challenges.
It is vital for any application to include the details of which barriers the business is facing and how the money will support the business to overcome them. Simply hoping that a grant will arrive to top up your bank account is unrealistic.
A strong application will detail exactly what the business is planning on purchasing, the supplier of choice, along with an analysis of why each particular service/item represents good value for money. Including evidence of you research, for example quotations, will provide reassurance to the grant funder that you are in a position to begin the launch of the project swiftly and efficiently.
To find out more about our services, and how to access the Grantfinder database, please visit our website here.
At the Business & IP Centre Northamptonshire, we support entrepreneurs, inventors and small businesses from that first spark of inspiration to successfully launching and developing a business. Find out about our range of services here.