Everyone likes the idea of small business grants. Free money for your business has an everlasting appeal. The reality of obtaining a business grant is more like the quest for the holy grail, and often fraught with the perils of bureaucracy along the way.
Be under no illusion that it will take time and effort to search out and apply for any kind of grant.
Grants are generally awarded by local, regional or national government. Sometimes (but much more rarely), they come from industry bodies, foundations, trusts and educational establishments.
Finding a small business grant is difficult because schemes normally have a limited amount of funding distributable within a definite time frame, they are normally targeted at local areas, with specific aims (e.g. urban regeneration) and change over time to reflect different objectives. Because they are aimed at different and ever changing target groups the amount of information available about them becomes layered and confusing.
Furthermore, it is unlikely that you will be allowed to use any granted funds for any purpose you wish, they nearly always are constructed with restrictive criteria. Perhaps the most common ones are:
Encouraging investment in areas of poor economic standing, including assistance for relocation, creation of jobs etc.
Agricultural, farming or fisheries assistance.
Aims of increasing overseas exports
Investment in new technologies or ‘state of the art’ plant and machinery
Research and Development
As well as the restrictive end use, there will be qualifying criteria which will depend upon the location of your business, its legal form, and the size of it. Almost always you will be expected to produce your business plan with any application and contribute a “matching element” of funding. Most often this is to invest an equal amount (50%) to what you are granted. Although the contribution you are expected to put in can be up to 85% in some cases