This grant blog addresses the following topics:
- Why you should be perceived as low risk to the grant agency
- Learn to speak governmentese
- Grants and Universal Challenge Lines (UCLs)
Don’t Wait! Download our “Three Steps to Winning a Government Grant” PDF here – http://albertabusinessgrants.ca/
EXCITEMENT AND PAIN
When I approach most people about grants, I notice the topic both excites and pains them.
The excitement comes from winning free money that will dramatically decrease the cost of entering a new market, reduce the cost of product development, or to be able to hire or train staff.
The pain comes from the process: finding the right grant, dealing with the bureaucracy, and dealing with the follow-up. This pain is exacerbated when people have been denied a grant application. They are upset.
Understanding this excitement/pain dichotomy is important for winning a grant.
The great grant dichotomy: Risk Adverse vs. Risk Taker
Governments and bureaucrats are, by their very nature, risk adverse.
If a government is going to give you a grant, they need to do their due diligence. The tax payer demands it. You need to be prepared for a lot of questions, or what we will call, “grant universal challenge lines.”
Now think about risk-taking entrepreneurs. To succeed, they need to embrace risk, so you end up with these two opposites coming together in grants.
Grants are this unique place where bureaucrats and entrepreneurs meet.
Without going into too many details, you can see how grants can be a challenge for both parties. The parties are wired completely differently, but here is a MAJOR TIP for an entrepreneur to secure a grant:
AS AN ENTREPRENEUR YOU NEED TO BE PERCEIVED AS BEING
LOW-RISK IN THE EYES OF THE BUREAUCRATS.
Here is how you do that:
- Be an award-winning business. If the bureaucrats see that your peers endorse you, your risk level is decreased.
- Be transparent. When you set up your grant meeting, you should invite the grant agency to your office. Let them see the “white in the eyes” of your employees.
- Be organized. Put together a professional fact sheet about your business, including attachments and? news clippings.
- Customer endorsements. Grant agencies are looking at what people say about you and how you engage online. Be intentional about your customer reviews and watch your grant funding increase.
- Highlight your community engagement. Your business supports good causes all the time. You don’t have to brag about it, but make it easy for a grant agency to discover your company’s community service.
Being perceived as low risk helps when you speak “governmentese.” Governmentese is a language based on community mindedness, low business risk, and demonstrates a safe and stable work culture. Start speaking that language and watch your grant funding increase.
UNIVERSAL CHALLENGE LINES
About six months ago, one of my agri-food clients said to me, “you need to join Colin Sprake’s Make Your Mark.” “What is that,” I said. In the spring of 2017 I decided to attend its 3-day Business Mastery program. It was amazing. Today I meet once a month with many of its MYM Cap-It members.
Colin taught us about “Universal Challenge Lines (UCLs).” Basically, if you want to complete anything of any real value, you will be faced with obstacles or UCLs (e.g. losing weight, running a marathon).
After working on grants for years, I have found that the reason most people find grants a pain is that there are five UCLs. Here they are so you can be aware of them, and most importantly, prepare for these UCLs because will come.
UCL #1: Negative self-grant talk. “Oh grants are a pain. They are so much work. Grants take forever.” And those are just the kind ones. The fact is, grants are fun! Sure they’re a bit of work, but the return is huge. Most entrepreneurs will work the entire year for no, or a small, profit. Imagine working hard for two weeks to win $100,000 of top-line revenue? Grants are fun.
UCL #2: Finding the best grant. Grants are everywhere. We have over 400 grants in our database for organizations, and it can take time to find the best grant. So instead of hitting this UCL and giving up, we provide you free grant-finding resources (see our download) or, for a nominal fee, companies like mine can deliver your grants to you on a silver platter.
UCL #3: Meeting the grant agency. If you’ve read any of my work before, you know that meeting the grant agency is the most important step in the grant process. This period can be a large UCL. It can take time to set up the meeting, then you might not want to hear what the grant agency representative says. You may need to ask someone else in the grant agency or find another grant. Either way it is a herewhere some people might just give up.
UCL #4: Reading the program guide. You should NEVER just start writing a grant application. EVER. The grant guides are essential for understanding the nuances in the grant application. I personally encourage my team to spend the hours reading and re-reading the grant guide. Using this process you avoid grant disaster later in the process. If you have any concerns up front, you can deal with them. You can also avoid “grant traps,” which are the absolute, most dangerous, thing in a grant application. I’ll be doing a future blog on that topic.
UCL #5: Dealing with grant agency questions. If a grant agency is going to cut you a cheque for $150,000, you can expect questions. Don’t give up. Answer them right away and move on.
THE BEST GRANT
They say the best master’s degree thesis is a completed thesis. The same is true with grants: the best grant applications are submitted ones. You can’t win if you don’t apply.
When it comes to grants, get excited, be perceived as low risk, speak governmentese, prepare for the UCLs, and then hit submit!