Grants & Small Business Financing

How can I get a grant to start or expand my business?

Unless your business involves the development of new technology or is a non-profit organization, it is difficult to find a grant to start or expand a small business.

Even though many publications and talk shows publicize grants to small businesses, there are only certain types of government grants available to small businesses.  SBA, for instance, offers "Small Business Innovation Research" (SBIR) and "Small Business Technology Transfer" (STTR) grants.  Grants from other agencies may also be available for new technologies, inventions, or products.

Finding and identifying government agencies that give grants for specific purposes or in specific subject areas requires considerable time, effort, and research.  Getting a grant is hard work.  Don't be fooled by advertisements and promotions that state that you can get "free money" just by asking for it. There is a lot of competition for grant funds.  To be successful in winning a grant, you must provide the funding agency with a well-written proposal that clearly states your objectives and sets forth a plan and budget for your activities.  Grants are "free" in that you do not have to pay back the money.  However, if you are awarded a grant you may be required to provide periodic progress, program evaluation, and/or financial reports to the government.

The vast majority of government grants are given to non-profit organizations for programs and services that benefit the community or the public at large.  There are other types of grants such as those from foundations, corporations, or private organizations.  These non-government organizations have specific requirements as to who is eligible to apply for and receive grant funding.  By and large, foundations do not make grants to for-profit enterprises.  

BusinessUSA - Access Financing
This interactive tool from the Federal Government allows you to describe your business and your needs, and generates a list of government financing programs that may be available to you.

SBA Loan Programs
The SBA offers a variety of loan programs for very specific purposes. See if you qualify to participate in the programs described here.

Grants.gov
A central location for thousands of grant programs from the 26 federal grant-making agencies.

A Guide to Small Business Funding Opportunities and Incentives
A document (PDF) describing how to navigate the grant process from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's Office.

Grants Available in New York State
New York State government information and resources on Grants from the State Library.

The Foundation Center
Among the features of this independent organization on foundation grants allows grantseekers to pose questions to an online librarian.

GrantsWeb
A compendium of links to private and government grant resources, here in the U.S. as well as abroad.