2017 Top 10 Grant Tips
- Start-ups forget grants – unless…
- Lessons learned and big highlights revealed
- Tip of the Year
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2017 has been quite a year for government grants in Alberta.
Looking back at all my grants and blogs, I want to share with you the top 2017 grant tips.
#1 Few Start-Up Grants Exist.
Believe it or not, I published 21 blogs this year. Guess which one was read the most? The start-up post: https://albertabusinessgrants.ca/start-up. I didn’t even think it was that interesting – I was wrong. I guess many people on LinkedIn are thinking about starting a business.
If you’re looking to start a business, the best grant in the world right now is Self-Employment Training: http://microbusiness.ca/index.php?page=webpages&menucat=22&id=94&action=displaypage&side=1. Nothing even comes close in the start-up space for start-up funding. Nothing.
#2 Few grants exist for woman entrepreneurs.
In the grant space, you hear all the time, “I hear there are grants for woman starting a business.”
Few female-focused grants exist, but they are more for non-profits. The one business grant that I have come across for female entrepreneurs is here: http://www.startupcan.ca/womenfund/#1479285668746-b1ecd6e5-c357
#3 Lesson learned.
When I started Alberta Business Grants, I wanted to help entrepreneurs navigate the government grant process. That mission still drives my company. When I focus on it, everything seems to work. When I get away from this mission, I get lost.
Last week I tried to get all fancy. I had stumbled upon a list of government grant recipients, and I decided to share it with my audience. One thing. I thought I’d ask people to exchange their email for quick access to it. Guess what happened?
At the time of this post, I’ve had 87 people read that blog. Only two have given me their email for access to the recipient link! Shame on me. I apologize for being greedy everyone, so here is the link: http://open.canada.ca/en/search/grants?f%5B0%5D=date_year%3A2017&f%5B1%5D=type_en%3AContribution
The biggest win of the year was writing a major business award for an Alberta-based entrepreneur. When we write grants, we develop an extensive library. I can use that material to write business award applications. Some of the biggest business awards are the Alberta Order of Excellence, EY Entrepreneur of the Year, and the Order of Canada. I love winning grants, but it’s so cool to watch your clients get recognized as the best in their business. I didn’t ask for his permission to disclose his name here, but he’s awesome and it was great to see his family proud of him.
BY THE WAY, DID YOU KNOW THAT AWARDS AND GRANTS ARE FIRST COUSINS? Start winning awards and watch the grant money pour into your bank account. My favourite award show is http://abbusinessawards.com/. Come to the gala on March 2, 2018.
#5 Grant agency relationships are most important.
I’m about to describe something to you that isn’t fake news. Imagine your phone rings. It’s a grant agency staffer. On that call they tell you that, “there’s a new grant program coming out, and it’s a great fit with your business. You should apply.” That happens over and over when you build a grant plan, meet the grant agency, and then write your application.
Entrepreneurs and business leaders reading this post hear me loud and clear: become the grant agency’s trusted advisor. Don’t be going to a grant agency with your hand out. Go there with a giving and trust-building mindset. You will be so different than 99% of the people who call grant agencies.
Once you are trusted, they will call you and tell you about the money they WANT TO GIVE YOU. I’ve seen this happen so many times.
#6 Meeting the agency BEFORE you write.
I can’t stress this enough: before you write a grant, you must talk to the grant agency. They will tell you everything you need to know. If you want to know what to ask them, I’ve drafted the questions for you: https://albertabusinessgrants.ca/six-questions-to-ask-a-grant-agency-before-you-write
#7 Most grants are disqualified for procedure.
I am often asked, “what happens if we don’t win.” Here is what I’m finding: most grants are disqualified on technicalities. It’s the wrong fit or something like that. Make sure you “check all the boxes.”
#8 Most businesses don’t know about grants
After attending the SPARK grant conference this year, it became abundantly clear that most businesses don’t know grants exist for them out there. For-profit business can find a lot of money for training, hiring, exporting, and developing new products.
#9 If you’re business is growing, you’re more likely to win.
Have you ever gone to the horse races? Some people like to bet 20:1 shot. Others are risk adverse and bet 2:1. Which one of these bets do you think most reflects a grant agency?
2:1. Grant folks are managing tax payer money. They’re not comfortable taking a “long shot” and have to deal with the consequences. My goodness by their very definition, they are “risk adverse.” They have pensions and steady income.
So whatever you do, make sure you’re not considered “risky.” Now you understand why I love business awards so much: they lend third party credibility to your application. Even if they don’t know you, the bureaucrat who approved your grant can always say, “that company was the 2017 Small Business of the Year.”
#10 Tip of the Year: In grants perception and reality are very different.
What people THINK about grants and what is ACTUALLY the case are quite different. Look, a bunch of money is sitting there for businesses. When I was a SPARK, I asked a grant agency staffer, “you still got lots of money?” She replied, “Yes. It’s easy to make friends when you have to give millions of dollars away.”
The government fiscal year ends March 31. You may have an excellent opportunity to get in on March madness if you act quickly. Don’t wait any longer.
I hope 2018 if your best year yet!