Federal Grants for Small Business: How to Apply

Applying for federal grants for a small business is a challenge for many entrepreneurs. The process can be long and tedious, but extremely rewarding. There are really no short cuts. However, there are things small business owners can do to increase their possibility of success. In business, there are factors that are within the control of the business owner and others that cannot be directly controlled or influenced. The individual business owner has no control over economic conditions. However, businesses can control and adjust marketing plans and activities as needed. As always, the best approach for businesses is to focus on those things that can be directly controlled or influenced. The suggestions discussed in this article are things the business owner can directly control and influence.


Preparation begins with a well written and thought-out business plan. A business plan provides the basis on which the business operates. If a business plan was not prepared beforehand, it is important to get it done. The plan should address detailed financial, marketing and operations information. Each area is important for a business to succeed. If the plan has not been reviewed recently, it will need to be updated and revised based on current financial results and conditions. If the owner lacks expertise in preparing a business plan, it would be wise to seek out expert advice and assistance.

This is also the time to review your business operations and address any shortcomings. All aspects of your business should be addressed. It is rare for small business owners to be an expert in all areas. Therefore, it is important to obtain expert help where needed. The services of a business consultant, marketing specialist or CPA could be a good idea. There are services provided to small business owners at local colleges and universities at little or no cost. Be sure to take advantage of these services. Part of the business plan is projections of the future of the business. Having a realistic, clear vision and plan for the future is critical for a continued success and growth.

Applying for Grants

The first step is to make sure that your business meets the definition of a small business and qualifies for a federal grant. There are size standards which can be found on the Small Business Administration website. For example, business and personal services firms with less than $7 million dollars in annual revenue qualify. Review any other qualification for the grant you are pursuing. Be prepared to work at the application process. It can be a long process.

There are many different kinds of grants for various types of businesses. You can find a number of resources on the Internet you can use for your search.  A good starting point is the "Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance" (CFDA). When you file your application, it should be complete; without errors and professional. Remember, the application represents your business. Therefore, a sloppy application may be interpreted as an indication of how you conduct your business. The objective is to make a good impression. Plan on following up on your application. Be persistent in a professional manner.