In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, government agencies at the county, state, and federal levels offer funds to help businesses adapt to change. Some of it goes to help businesses comply with health and social distancing rules, while other portions help businesses perform better online.
If you have a local marketing presence, some of these grants could be perfect for you. Consider it “seed money,” or a quick injection of funds enabling you to restructure and reinvest. You can even use it to pay for steps you took to adapt, back in the early stages of the pandemic.
On top of that, you can help other businesses get approved for grants. You could even turn it into a specialized stream of income.
Why Apply For A Grant?
The primary reason to apply is simple: It’s free money. The difference between a grant and a loan is that the grant never has to get repaid. If you never apply, you could miss out on free money from the government to help your business.
It can’t be overstated: this money is not a loan. There is no repayment plan. There is no high interest rate, or fear of default. The government intends it to help your business.
This money will go to someone’s business … so it might as well be yours.
You can also turn it into a service for your clients. Many local businesses around you could use a shot in the arm like this, and aren’t even aware of the opportunity. Let’s say you offered your services as a professional grant writer … who wouldn’t happily oblige? This could turn into a way for you to generate extra revenue while helping businesses thrive amidst all the craziness.
Imagine walking into a local business, introducing yourself, and then making a quick elevator pitch:
“I’m a professional writer specializing in COVID-19 grants. I will help your business determine its biggest needs, and write a winning application for you while forecasting your potential returns. If I help you get a grant, you pay me for my time. If it doesn’t work out for any reason, then you pay nothing.”
How To Apply and Win a Grant
Here are a few quick steps to follow to increase your chances of winning a grant. Once you have it down for yourself, you can turn around and help other local businesses.
- Search For Grants in Your City or County
Do a quick Google search to find grants in your area. If there isn’t one available for your city, check your county and state. You can’t know for sure, if you don’t look.
- Make Sure You Know Your Numbers
Regardless of the agency, civil authorities will want to know things like your past and current revenue, tax status, EIN, and possibly your bank statements. They want to know the money will go toward a legitimate business with a specific need. It’s wise to have these numbers readily available for your business to begin with.
If you help a client apply, make sure they are eligible, and can provide the necessary information before starting the process. There’s nothing worse than filling out a pristine application for a business that isn’t qualified.
- Build a Strong Proposal
Awards get decided by the strength of their proposal. Some businesses can get larger grants, simply by making a strong, persuasive case that their business is beneficial to the governing body’s constituents.
For example, in our area, grants range anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000. Well-worded proposals with compelling numbers can make as much as $20,000 in difference.
The government wants to see that your business is a wise investment. They’re not just throwing money away, and hoping for the best.
If you can provide a strong proposal and state exactly where the money will go, and the return you expect for it, your chances of winning the money go up. Many applications come with a template for you to plug in predicted expenses, so the authorities can make informed decisions about the wisdom of releasing the funds.
- Attach a Detailed Marketing Plan
Nothing stops you from adding details to your application, in order to help your odds. You’re a marketing expert, so here is a fantastic chance to market yourself.
Provide a detailed forecast of what you will do with the money, and what kind of earnings you project. From an accountability standpoint, this will also help you strategize your business moves for the next few months.
If you’re trying this for the first time, you might also benefit from a refresher: How To Get Your First Client As A New Shark.
Don’t Neglect Free Money
If I said that for an hour or two of hassle (like listening to a demonstration for a timeshare), you had a chance to win $5,000 … most people would take the chance. This opportunity is even better, because your odds rely on the strength of your proposal, rather than a random drawing.
So in addition to helping others apply, you may as well see if you qualify, and practice by writing your own proposal.
And let us know how it goes!