Hope your week is off to a great start.
This week I am going to share with you a useful conversation that I had with Anne (not her real name) who is working with a grant writer. I want to provide you with a couple of helpful tips.
”Dave, so that we don’t mess things up, will you meet my grant writer and I?”
“Sure,” I said.
Anne shared the situation, and she was doing some things great and others that needed some tweaking.
Let us break it down, so you can learn how to win a grant.
Number 1: Anne contacted me and got a list of applicable grants (sorry to start so self-promotional, but the first step is FIND THE BEST GRANT). I provide many below. Keep reading trust me.
Number 2: Since I didn’t have time to write Anne’s grants, she found a grant writer. Great, at least she stands a good chance of actually GETTING THE GRANT SUBMITTED.
Number 3: Anne decided that she would meet the grant agency BEFORE they started writing.
I actually wrote Anne’s meeting preparation package, which is SO IMPORTANT before meeting a grant agency.
GRANT TIP: YOU WOULDN’T GO ON SHARKTANK UNPREPARED, SO WHY WOULD YOU GO INTO THE GRANT TANK JUST “WINGING IT.” DON’T DO THAT! GRANTS ARE A BETTER DEAL THAN PRIVATE EQUITY!
You and I know this: entrepreneurs don’t want to write their own grant application. Right or right?
But you can’t delegate everything!
I know Anne and YOU really want to delegate all grant writing, but you can’t.
Nobody knowns Anne’s invention like Anne.
Nobody has Anne’s passion like Anne.
Plus, here’s a little secret, we all have an ego.
Ok you might not have one, but most of us do.
When you’re going to meet the grant agency, you have to bring the big cheese for the first step. Don’t insult the grant agency. As my favourite communicator in the world, Andy Stanley, says, “you already know this.”
Don’t ever send your grant writer FOR THE FIRST MEETING to the Grant Tank alone. Ever!
GRANT TIP: IF A GRANT IS GOING TO TAKE 40 HOURS TO COMPLETE, THE ENTREPRENEUR NEEDS TO WORK ON AT LEAST EIGHT OF THOSE HOURS. SHE CANNOT DELEGATE THE ENTIRE PROCESS.
Next, once the grant agency says, “we would love for you to apply, then you can delegate.”
Now here is a secret lesson.
Pay very close attention to what I’m about to write because it will save your bacon.
GRANT TIP: When you meet the grant agency, you are looking for a HECK YEAH to apply OR a NO.
Did you get that? Grant agencies can’t say to your face (most of them anyway), don’t apply with that project because you’re going to lose.
They likely want to say it, but that wouldn’t be fair.
The process needs to be “fair and transparent” for everyone.
However, you have to be able to read the grant agency.
Trust me. I’ve been writing grants for SIX YEARS! If the grant agency isn’t excited for your project, and you have done a great job communicating EXACTLY WHAT YOU DO, then walk.
Don’t waste another minute of your life on them. Go and sell and bring back results.
I hope you got that.
Grant agencies are trying to get around this issue with a Letter of Intent as phase one, but in my experience, you can save yourself a lot of grief after one meeting.
At the end of the meeting, you need to ask this question. Are we a heck yes or no?
Grants are SO MUCH WORK. You need to know asap if you’re a great fit.
Plus, so many other grants exist and they want you to apply. Did you see this article in the Globe and Mail: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-government-grants-to-small-business-aka-free-money-go-unused/
My final tip here IS for any potential grant writers out there. Many of you have called me asking for tips, so here is a big one.
When you start to work with a company, the client obviously “loves” their technology. You probably like it too, but you don’t know if FIVE other businesses are doing something similar.
You also don’t know if the grant agency didn’t just fund a similar project, and they have no interest in funding something similar at the moment.
Many variables are outside of your control.
You MUST be smart. You are a professional, so make sure your contract doesn’t completely rely on them winning a grant.
Trust me, many small entrepreneurs will try to get you to work for nothing, but you can’t. Many grants don’t even allow success fees anymore, which is a topic for another blog.
Your job is to write a clear proposal (no application yet) to the grant agency for a heck “yes” or “no.” You need to eat, so make sure you get some money up front to cover your costs.
Now any companies reading this: be honorable and respective to your grant writer. I’ll tell you why.
If you try to leave your grant writer for dead, they are not going to be there to serve you. And grant writing is a tremendous amount of work. So, it is in your interest to pay them some money upfront to get into the game.
That money will also hold you accountable.
If you get past the grant agency meeting, milestone two kicks in, you pay another portion of the payment, and onward you go. This is very important for everyone involved: you want to have milestone payments throughout the grant writing process.