Let's start at the very beginning --you have an idea for a business, it's a great new idea or maybe it's always been your passion. Either way, you're ready to hit the ground running. First, you will need some money to get this off the ground. You would like to open your business in Johnstown because you've heard there are "grants" available to entrepreneurs that want to start a business. Well, yes and no. Please allow me to clear the air on this subject with some solid information about grants, loans and self-funding.
First, lets talk about grants. From an article from the Southeastern Louisiana University: "Every business owner would like to have a grant for starting or expanding a business. The fact is no government agency is handing out free money to start small businesses, regardless of your gender, ethnicity, or economic status. The harsh reality is that 95% of most small businesses are started with personal savings, loans from friends or relatives, or commercial loans. The owner must invest their own money and collateral. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) does NOT make grants to business owners."
Have grants been distributed? Absolutely! Is a grant a possibility for your small business? A possibility, yes. A probability, no. Getting a grant requires research, time, and effort to find a grant opportunity that fits what you want to do. Then begins the real work of meeting the eligibility requirements, completing the application process and writing a solid business plan. Applying for grant money is an extremely competitive and demanding process.
From the same article: Here are a few more things to remember about finding a grant.
• There is no substitution for a good solid business idea. No amount of money will make a bad business idea work. Do your homework and get good advice to determine if your idea is worth pursuing with or without a grant.
• If a business idea is not worth pursuing without a grant it probably is not worth pursuing the grant.
• If it is a true grant opportunity you will be able to find an application, guidelines or an organizational contract. Hearing that a friend of a friend of a friend got this grant is no guarantee that such a grant actually exists.
• The time and effort spent seeking grants can often go a long way in helping you do the valuable research needed to start a business.
Next, lets talk about loans--I get significantly fewer requests for small business loan information than grants, but it is important to understand the process is very similar. Research, put the time and effort into finding the source that is right for you. Then get to work creating that solid business plan that will convince a lender to partner with you. This is a great article about SBA (Small Business Administration) that you might find encouraging: fsb.bank/resources/useful-information/the-truth-about-sba-loans.
And last but not least, lets talk about self-funding. But you don't have funds, right?!? As stated in this article: www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2018/34685/how-small-business-owners-got-their-start, 59% of business owners worked a full-time job while they started their business. Another idea is plain old-fashioned, old-school bootstrapping. "It is the quickest and surest way of building a solid business," as stated in Bootstrapping Your Business: Start and Grow a Successful Company With Almost No Money by Greg Gianforte. "Why? Because you are forced to deal with customers and fulfill their needs from day one. This compels you to maximize your efforts on sales, and to meet the real needs of real customers. If you had plenty of external funding, you might be fooled into thinking you had created a business."
Boot strapping your own business forces you to learn quickly, not waste time or money, it's low risk, you can start immediately, and a lack of excess funds fosters innovation and therefore better results. The achievement of creating and sustaining a business leveraged on your own ingenuity is the essence of entrepreneurship. Only you can decide which approach to funding is right for you and your business. And it might ultimately be a combination of all three avenues with some support from family and friends thrown in! As always, I'm here to answer or get answers to any business questions you may have! Let me know how I can help you on your business journey!