Got a startup in the US? If you’re looking for startup funding, a startup business grant may be the ideal solution to help grow your business. Join us as we look at small business startup grants in America, including USA government startup grants.
You’ve got a fantastic idea for a startup in the US, but the big question is… how are you going to fund it?
There are a lot of costs you need to consider, from R&D and legal fees to staff and agency support. Shopify estimates that a one-person startup costs $18,000 to launch, with bigger businesses having to spend even more to get started.
While you can fund your business using your own cash and savings (this is known as bootstrapping), if you need a lot of money, you’ll need funding. You can get funding in two different ways, either by finding an investor, or by applying for a grant, either from the US government, a charity, or a third-party provider
There are many benefits to registering your startup in the USA. There are fewer taxes to pay, it’s a very technology-friendly country, and you have access to a wide range of customers and suppliers. Not only this but there are a lot of startup grants on offer in the US too.
So, what small business startup grants are available if you’re registered in the US? From the East Coast to the West Coast, there are a lot of options. Let’s take a look at some of the grants you can access and what you need to prepare to increase the odds of getting the money.
- Why apply for startup funding in the USA?
- Small business grants in the USA: what do you need to provide?
- Charity-based grants in the USA
- Small business grants in the USA
- Community-based grants in the USA
- Education-based grants in the USA
- Other startup grants in the USA
- In summary: getting a grant doesn’t have to be hard
Why apply for startup funding in the USA?
One of the best reasons for getting small business funding in the USA is that you don’t need to pay it back like you would a loan; the money is yours to keep. Unlike investment, you don’t need to give away ownership of your business in the form of equity either.
Many grant programs also provide additional free services to help your business, like mentorship, networking events, and subsidized software and equipment. So if you’re new to the world of business and entrepreneurship, there are many other advantages to be had apart from just the cash!
Quite a lot of startup companies are put off from applying for grants as they don’t think there are many grants and funding opportunities out there. However, the truth is that there are lots of different types of funding across a wide range of different industries.
The key is knowing where to look!
Small business grants in the USA: what do you need to provide?
Many small business grants in the USA come from the local and federal governments. This means these organizations want to know that your startup idea is going to be successful before they give you the money.
As you would if you were pitching to an angel investor or VC, preparation is essential when it comes to startup grant funding.
It’s essential to read the terms and conditions of any grants before you apply to see what information you need to provide. Not having the correct documents can slow down your application, and when there is a limited pot of money available, this can be the difference between success and failure.
You may also need to prove you are a member of an organization or have a particular license or certification.
So what documents will you need to submit to get funding? It varies. It’s likely that an organization will want to see a business plan or a startup valuation if you have started trading. Depending on the grant, you might be asked to submit a short presentation – this is particularly common with competitions.
Some startup grants may offer what is known as ‘matched funding’. This is when the grant provider provides a certain amount of money, and you put up the rest. For example, let’s say you apply for a grant to buy a new fleet of vehicles for your startup. The provider provides two-thirds of the cost, and you put up the other third.
The purpose of matched funding is to make sure that the recipient of the grant is serious about the investment, as they have to front part of the cost. When you apply for the grant, it’s likely you’ll have to offer financial records and bank statements so the provider can see you have the money.
It’s also important to see what you need to do after the grant has been awarded. Some organizations may ask for regular reporting, so they know what you are doing with the money. Some grants specify that you can only spend the money on certain things and that you have to submit receipts for reimbursement.
Knowing what you need to do from the start can save a lot of questions and delays later down the line.
Now that you know a little more about small business funding and grants in the USA, let’s see what support is available!
1. Charity-based grants in the USA
Some charitable organizations in the USA offer grants. While the majority of these grants are geared toward community organizations, some, like the ones below, are available to commercial businesses and startups.
The Military Entrepreneur Challenge
The Second Service Foundation offers grant funding to veterans and the spouses of veterans that are looking to expand or start a business. The first prize of $15,000 is available every year, with smaller prizes on offer too.
The Amber Grant
Offered by WomensNet, the Amber Grant offers a wide range of grants to women who want to start or expand their businesses. As well as a monthly grant of $10,000, the organization also offers smaller $2,000 grants throughout the course of the year.
One Million Black Businesses
While not a grant provider, we wanted to include this charitable organization on the list. Operation Hope Initiative, the organization wants to start one million new black-owned businesses by 2030.
The organization provides advice, support, and coaching, as well as free resources and advice about available grants and loans.
2. Small business grants in the USA
America has always been a country that has fostered and nurtured entrepreneurship, with an estimated one million new small businesses created each year. This means there are plenty of funding opportunities for small businesses and startups.
A good starting point if you’re looking for small business funding, wherever you are in the USA, is the grants.gov website.
This federal portal contains lots of different temporary grant opportunities for businesses, especially those in niche industries like agriculture and fishing.
There’s a helpful blog too, with information about how to write a good funding application.
NASE Growth Grants
The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) offers growth grants, with four winners each quarter rewarded up to $4,000 to drive their business forward. You need to be a member of NASE to apply for this grant.
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
This competition offers small companies and startups across the US a chance to win a grant to enhance their businesses. You need to have a FedEx shipping account to be eligible for a prize.
Fast Break for Small Businesses
This grant offers small business grants, as well as free legal support, to businesses and startups across the USA. While grants are open to the majority of companies, there are a few types of industries that are ineligible for funding, so read the rules before applying!
3. Community-based grants in the USA
As well as federal grants, there are several regional funding grants on offer in the USA too. You can find out what’s on offer on the grants.gov site or alternatively, speak to someone at your local council who will be able to let you know what’s available.
You can also get in touch with your local small business development center to see what grants they are aware of.
Here are some examples of local and community startup grants you might find of interest.
The California Dream Fund
This grant program is open to small business owners in California. After completing the training program, businesses are eligible for a $10,000 grant.
The Batamasian Family Grant
Open to companies and startups in South Florida, this grant gives $150,000 a year to twelve local businesses.
Small Business Boost
This grant is awarded to small businesses in the Houston, Texas region, with $40,000 worth of grants up for grabs.
Oakland Black Business Fund
Open to eligible businesses and startups in Oakland, California, this organization provides grants and support to black-owned small businesses.
4. Education-based grants in the USA
If your startup is in the education field, you might be eligible for grants and funding from the US Department of Education.
US Department of Education
You can find a list of all the available grants on the US Department of Education website. The majority of grants are open to startups and private businesses that focus on education and learning.
5. Other startup grants in the USA
We’ve gone through some of the main grants available in the USA, but here are a couple more you might not have heard of!
Like the Innovate grants in the UK, these government grants are awarded to businesses that help solve scientific and technological challenges. Just create an account, submit your entry, and if you’re successful, you’ll receive a cash grant!
This global competition is open to startups in the digital and fintech sectors. One winner per region is chosen to take part in the grand final, where $100,000 is given to the winner. There are also occasional mini-funding competitions that you can enter too.
In summary: getting a grant doesn’t have to be hard
Getting startup fundraising in the form of a grant means you get the valuable money you need for your business to grow, without having to give away shares and equity.
Many startups are discouraged from applying for grants as they don’t know where to find them. With this in mind, we hope this article has signposted you to the right places!
Our final top tip? Be prepared. Do your research and see when granting opportunities open and close. This will give you plenty of time to organize everything you need and maximize your chances of success.
Not in the USA? We’ve already looked at funding in the UK and will shortly be looking at the latest grant opportunities in Europe and Canada. Keep reading our blog to check out the rest of our articles, or alternatively, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn for notifications when the blogs are ready!
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Important note: The information in this article is accurate as of November 2022. Grants and the criteria required to attain them change on a regular basis, so please be sure to do your due diligence before applying! Some grant programs may have closed entries for 2022 but will reopen in 2023.