Are you an entrepreneur at the early stages of starting your own business? You’re probably looking for ways to fund your dream venture.
One way to do that is by getting in touch with potential investors. We’ve all heard these dream investment and million-worth valuations stories. But they’re not a rule – they’re an exception.
Only a small number of deals like that is closed in Pakistan, and when they happen, the news spreads out quickly thanks to smart marketing campaigns.
You need resources to grow and develop your product. But how do you find that capital for your business? Fortunately, there are other ways you could make it work – for example, grants.
Here are 6 tips to help you score an amazing grant for kicking off your business idea.
6 Essential Steps to Finding a Grant for Your Business
1. Know your target
This is the first step to developing a business plan that makes sense. You need to show the body responsible for giving out grants that you have a full understanding of your prospective customers, be it other companies or consumers.
Research your target audience. Learn more about the current industry trends. Explore your niche. Know what your main competitors are up to. Don’t create a product in a vacuum. Respond to the needs of your target audience and get valuable customer feedback.
2. Develop a business plan
Your business is more than your product or service.
You need to put together a business plan that reflects your knowledge of the niche and your target audience. You also need to show that you’ve got a clear-cut financial plan and a strategy for developing your business – including marketing your product and creating a business model.
When describing your idea, be specific and on point. Avoid generalizations. Refer to customer feedback. Show that you have a range of goals and a strategy to help you achieve them.
Draw a vision of a reliable business in which people want to invest.
3. Find information about available grants
Once you know your target and develop a smart business plan, it’s time to get yourself informed about the grant opportunities available to businesses like yours.
Your first step should be to check out governmental schemes that provide funding to local businesses and initiatives.
Have a look at this website and type ‘Pakistan’ in the search field to see all the open grant opportunities.
Another great option is the Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program (SGAFP). It’s funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and since 2010, it has supported more than 300 projects across Pakistan that were worth a smashing US $37 million in total.
The program aims to support innovative and community-based projects. If your business relates to social entrepreneurship, develops small-scale energy solutions, promotes culture and the arts, or improves disaster preparedness – you should definitely apply!
Here’s some more information about the program.
Another place where you should look is the U.S. Mission to Pakistan Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Department of State which sponsors funding opportunities every year through its Public Diplomacy grants program.
PAS usually posts funding opportunities between February and June each year. Have a look here to check all the funding opportunities. That’s where you can also learn more about the program’s objectives, eligibility requirements, and application information.
4. Read the requirements carefully
Before applying for a grant, be sure to review the requirements and criteria. Your business simply must meet them or you stand zero chance at getting funding.
You shouldn’t lose time on applying for a grant if you’re not eligible for it. Save time and focus on other opportunities for receiving a grant instead.
Most of the time, the grant listing includes a contact name, email address, or a telephone number. Reach out to this person and ask them about the grant. They’re on the inside and will be able to give you a lot of valuable information about successful grant applications. Ask for a grant application kit if it applies – it will make your job much easier.
5. Check the deadline
When looking at the grant opportunity, make sure to double check the deadline for applications. Will you be able to meet all the application requirements in time? Remember that deadlines for grants are strict and your application won’t be taken into consideration if you send it in even a few hours late.
6. Complete the application
Read the application instructions carefully to ensure that you fully understand the process. Only then you’ll be able to supply the right information and add supporting documentation for a winning grant application.
The providers of the grant will give you strict instructions about what type of information to include in your grant proposal. Stick to these rules at all cost. The format for submitting the proposal is just as important as its content. Don’t forget to attach supporting documentation.
Now it’s time to revise your proposal. Ask someone who has received a grant for feedback, refine your application, and send in the final version.
These tips 6 tips should help you to get your business idea off the ground in no time!
Author’s Bio: Alana Downer is a blogger whose main interest lie in business and financial niche. Currently working at Learn To Trade, Alana might often be found sharing her financial suggestions and tips with both businesses and individuals alike.