Grants for small business and new business start ups

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How to find out if there are any grants available for your business.

Developing an effective business strategy, planning for unexpected contingencies and maintaining customer relationships will be paramount in the minds of business owners.

Some business leaders are however relishing the current economic challenge, seeing it as an opportunity for new business ideas to take off. Some of these ideas will shape future lives not just for these businesses but for all of us - just think how product innovations such as mobile phone technologies, forged in the recession of the early 1990s, have now touched us all.

Failure to keep looking for the next big (or small) thing can seriously hamper a company both now and coming out of the recession. In looking to grow your business or ramp-up product development, you may well need further investment. Alongside loans and equity finance, there are business grants to consider, but what is the potential for grant aid?

Grants are made available to businesses by central, regional and local government, the European Union, local authorities and other bodies.

The award of public funding, whether from Europe or from UK Government differs from bank funding in that it is usually made for a specific project. In addition, the sponsoring organisation will look to your company to help meet specific aims of its fund, such as technological, environmental, economic or social activities.

Grant awards are offered according to specific criteria through a competitive application process. Only the best quality applications are approved, with some funds heaviliy oversubscribed.

The nature of your business, location, size and ownership of your company all affect the level of grant funding available.

Matching public funding with your own cash and resources is crucial to the success of winning funding for a project, as it demonstrates your companys commitment and value for money to the sponsor. It is rare for a grant to cover more than 50% of the cost of a venture.

We have listed five key steps to winning funds for your business.

Step 1 - Decide whether grants are the right type of finance
Step 2 - Find out what funding is available

There are a large number of searchable databases on funding websites (notably www.grantsonline.org.uk, www.j4bgrants.co.uk, www.grantfinder.co.uk) as well as information from EU funding websites, government departments, and local authorities

Step 3 - Making the application
Step 4 – Submitting your application
Step 5 - Keeping in contact

In conclusion, there are some exciting opportunities but it can take time to explore all these sources.