Have you thought about looking for and applying for a grant to help finance your business and/or projects within your business?

While government grants are supposed to encourage entrepreneurialism, many stretched business owners are put off because they believe them to be:

1. Hard to find
2. Administratively heavy
3. Very competitive

A grant is a sum of ‘money given by an organisation, esp. a government, for a particular purpose’. The fact that grants are ‘given makes them by no stretch of the imagination the low hanging fruit of business funding.

However, if you do dedicate some time and resource into looking and applying for a grant(s), you may very well find that there are some fantastic opportunities out there. So, where should you begin?

Here are four steps that you ought to consider…

Start your search:

Research your options. A good pace to start is this page on finance support on the GOV.UK website, this will help to explore the funding options you have and if a grant is the right option for you.

Is there a grant that matches my needs?

Asking ‘what grant is available for me/my business?’ is the wrong approach and probably won’t get you all that far. Instead, work out what your businesses needs are and then search for a grant that could potentially help you with those particular needs. Grants are usually only eligible to be used for specific purposes; for example, research and development (R&D), job creation, innovation, training and/or reducing carbon emissions are all fairly common.

Do I qualify?

Grants are all different and so are their qualifying criteria. Qualifying criteria for grants can be based on a whole myriad of factors but generally speaking, they will relate to a business’s size, industry and location.

It takes time..

If you do find a grant that you/your business is eligible for then don’t expect the process to be speedy. As a result, funding through grants should not be seen as an option for a quick fix or businesses that need cash ‘right here right now’. Before filling out the first application form, you should ensure that you have the time and resource available to potentially be taken through a lengthy approval process. PNO, Europe’s leading full-service independent grant consultancy says that the ‘EU alone spends €375bn on grants per year, and that amount doesn’t begin to take account of all the other grant providers, both government-run and private’.

The figures show that there is indeed money out there and entrepreneurs looking for funding should not overlook grants. Though the process can be a little daunting, the rewards can be well worth the effort.

Submitted by Kingston Smith LLP, a Top 20 UK and Accountancy Firm.