You can find small–business funding options, including loans, grants, and other programs at government agencies, state organizations, and private corporations. A few good places to start your search include:
Federal stimulus aid Coronavirus relief options
Federal – SBA Coronavirus Relief Funding Options
As you would expect, acceptance of free money from the government comes with a fair amount of paperwork. Applying for a grant can be time consuming and technical. You will want to make sure that you are eligible before applying. In addition to the legal and administrative prerequisites, there are ongoing reporting and auditing requirements. You can find the full details at govinfo.gov.
Begin your search for a grant from the federal government at Grants.gov. This government site offers the most comprehensive database of funds the government is going to give away. There are thousands of grants to apply for, with opportunities for companies from all backgrounds.
Keep in mind that not all assistance flows directly from the federal government to small businesses. Some funds are distributed to state and local governments and agencies, nonprofit organizations, and higher learning institutions. In turn, these entities distribute the funds or use them to provide technical or educational assistance on a local level.
Government Contract Assistance
The federal government spends billions of dollars on goods and services each year. A lot of that money is spent through a competitive bidding process. Programs have been put in place to assist some small businesses with the process, allowing them a better chance to compete for those federal dollars.
- Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program. The federal government seeks to award at least 3% of all federal contracting dollars to such businesses annually, so this program meets that target. This federal contracting program offers assistance to small business owners who are service-disabled veterans. Eligible small businesses must be over 50% owned/controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans, have day-to-day operations and long-term goals managed by at least one service-disabled veteran, and have a service-connected disability.
- Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program. The federal government seeks to award at least 5% of federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses annually. Through this SBA program, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership supports women entrepreneurs by offering business training, counseling, federal contracts, and access to credit and capital. Their goal is to offer equal opportunities for all women in business.
- 8(a) Business Development Program. The purpose of this program is to assist small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged entities. This is achieved by limiting competition for specific government contracts to businesses participating in the 8(a) business development program. To participate, a company must be certified as an 8(a) entity.
- HUBZone Program. This program aids businesses in underutilized business zones by making them more competitive regarding some government contracts. Companies that join the HUBZone program can compete for set-aside contracts and receive preference on others, including a 10% price evaluation preference in open contract competitions.
Industry-specific small business grants
There are many nonprofit and corporate entities offering grants and other assistance to small businesses. Some of these programs are confined to a specific entrepreneur demographic or business profile, and they often have an application process that is easier to navigate. One great way to find small business grants is to connect with your South Carolina SBDC consultant and follow us on social media.
The programs listed above are a good start when it comes to grants and funding. You may find additional resources available by following the links below.
- Funding options for minority-owned businesses, including multiple grants, funding sources, and low-cost loans intended to help minority-owned businesses grow.
- Funding options for women-owned businesses, including programs, agencies, and organizations that help women entrepreneurs be better represented in the ranks of American business owners.