3 questions to ask before you enter a biz grant competition

 

 

Are you wondering if there’s a way to get free money or business grant for your business?

I wanna dive into today on the three questions you need to ask before you start competitions in the hopes of getting free money. I want to  help  entrepreneurs who are just getting hit with good information. A lot of things are out there on the web.   And you might be thinking –  but my business still isn’t growing. What’s the problem?

Sometimes we gotta dive deeper

You will need to get  clear about what your marketing needs to be. You have to get clear about what your CEO mindset has to be and your business business. And those things may not always be apparent on the surface with a lot of the good information that’s out there.

Business grants are such a juicy topic

If you go to an event or any online discussion spot, you will hear entrepreneurs asking – How do I get free money for my business?

My own experience with business grants

So a number of years ago, I applied to a business plan competition.  I was teaching an entrepreneurship program for women  and had a number of people that wanted to be guest speakers.  One of the speakers shared that there was a business plan competition that her association was sponsoring.  She really wanted to get the word out there to entrepreneur in our area. So I  invited her to my class.

When she visited, I thought she gave a very powerful presentation. She actually walked the entire class through the application – what the judges were looking for and how to think about each question.  One of the things that she opened my eyes up to was this question – “Why do you as an entrepreneur want to enter free business grant competitions or events?” It’s not just you filling out the application.   It’s about stepping back and thinking from the perspective of how the judges are going to view it.  What is the win that the hosting organization will get? I remember talking to her on the side after the presentation.  I asked her if you were gonna do this for your own business, why you would do it?

Her answer was gold – The PR that the entrepreneurs who win are gonna get is just gonna be huge

It’s gonna be way more than the actual grant money.  So I applied and  am super proud to say that I was one of three 1st place winners. That competition opened up my eyes about free money for businesses.  

 

The First Question – Why is the organization giving the money?

Why are they doing this? What’s their benefit for actually doing this? What what do they get? Because they’re giving you quote unquote free money.

I don’t think a lot times entrepreneurs ask this question.  They just say I could get $10,000. I can get $50,000. And they never  step back and assess –  what am I gonna have to give in order to get that money?

Quick warning

So let me just share my story.  It was a painful one. I did get the grant money that I was that my business was promised.  But, I wanna be very upfront. It took 3 years of my life in order to be able to get the money.  The particular grant was very, very, very, very, very specific about how I had to spend the money.  . So it wasn’t something where someone handed me a $10,000 check at one time. I had to go through a very intense process where they screened how I was going to spend the money, where it was going to be at, verifying the receipts, verifying that I had paid stuff. . It took 3 years to be able to get it done.

Why did it matter to the organization who awarded my business?

They wanted to be able to demonstrate that they’re doing good with entrepreneurs. So they didn’t have a vested interest necessarily in giving me the money right away.  I’m not saying this from a negative way at all, because don’t get me wrong. 10,000 is 10,000. But I do wanna caution. Why is this entity willing to give me this money? And what am I gonna have to do for it in order to be able to get it.

How did I navigate the 3 years without losing my mind?

At a certain point, I started treating the process like they were one of my clients. I work with a lot of clients on a long term basis, and literally had to set aside 5 hours a week, 10 hours a week, 20 hours a week sometimes in order to keep up with the demands.  I would do it all over again.  But, I just want you to ask that question first because you may have to jump through a lot more hoops than you would if you earn that money via one client or a couple of clients.   You might be standing on stage with the the check but  that does not mean they’re going to write the check  once you get off of the stage or after the photos happen.  You may have to wait months.

So be cautious and make sure you understand why YOU want the grant and how it benefits the organization.

Second Question – Why does your business wanna get the grant?

Duh Malla, Because I need money, right?

Now on the surface level, that seems like a no brainer. Oh, because I need money.  I’m running a business. I have expenses. I need money. Total get that.

But a lot of times, I think businesses ask the wrong question when it comes to business grants because you’re seeing the money as a way to plug up current problems that you’re having rather than seeing how the money really can help you.

Here’s how I answered this question

The real win was the PR that I got from it.  Or that I’m able to tell you this story years later and can legitimatly talk about business grants.  The win  was able to help me position and leverage my business. When we had the award ceremony, I was in the room with some who’s who. I had some pretty amazing photos. I didn’t have video back then, but, have some pretty amazing still photos of that event.

And it also landed me additional PR.  Different media outlets wanted to interview winners.   Looking back on what I know now, I definitely would have tried to figure out a different way to position the PR.  I wasn’t really that savvy about PR at that point.  But I did know going into it – the real win of this competition was not the money,  It was  – how does this help my business?

Stop using grants to plug up your business sales challenges

  • If you have not sat down with your business and thought through your business plan
  • If you have no plan about how your business will grow

You may be continaully looking for opportunities to pus up your gaps.

I at least had a plan for what I wanted if I won.  How is this PR going to help my business move forward and move to the next level And I don’t think enough entrepreneurs really step back and think about this. Like, what’s the real win from this business? this competition, rather, besides the money. And if you haven’t sat down and thought through your plan about how it’s going to help you make even more money, then you’re doing the competition for the real wrong reasons.

Third question – What does the grant organization gain from giving you the grant?

When you’re thinking about these competitions, let’s keep it real. It’s not to give you money. And definitely not really to give you money to keep your ongoing expenses up and running.

They wanna give this money because they want some big wins. Right? They wanna shine.  Look how we’re helping entrepreneurs do all these amazing things. So when you’re thinking about grant that you want or entering a business plan competition, you better have thought through the prize money from their perspective.  

It’s not about boring expenses

A lot of entrepreneurs will say, oh my goodness. well, the $10,000,ould totally help  keep the lights on for tomorrow or pay salaries.  Wrong answer. You wanna find something in your business that if you bought this item, this allows your business to grow 10 times or 5 times more than what you’re doing right now.

Here is an example of how to find a 5x or 10x win in your business

Here is a simple example.  If you are selling out at a weekend flea market, you need the money to reserve other events that have higher price tables.  You’re already leveraging some level of success to grow to the next level.  One of the best business plans that I ever read was a food business where they took orders one day a week.  On Fridays, they told you where and when  the food was going to be delivered.  They were forever selling out. The problem that they needed an official mobile truck so that they could work 2 nights a week because they only had access to a kitchen 1 night a week. They knew that they were gonna make money if they added a second night on.

Well, yeah, that’s a no brainer. That’s a business that’s already figured out how it’s making money and saying, Hey, if you give me $10,000, if you give me $50,000, I’m not only gonna make $10,000. I’m probably gonna make a $100,000 off of that. I think that’s the way you have to really think about your business in this way.  It’s not about just getting the money. It’s about getting the money, and then how does the business grow.

A social media ads example

If you’ve spent money on social media ads, nd you finally figured out your formula for how to bring new people into your sales funnel.  You are spending $100 a month. But if someone gave you, $1,000, here’s how much you could make.  You’re thinking in a way of how a business plan competition or business grant wants to see.   You need to be selling out already.  Like, you you have enough customers that are coming, and they’re begging you to do this new service or this new offering. And you don’t have the money for inventory, or it’s gonna take the research and developmen to build it.  

Don’t spend it on salaries and you have no clear demand for future growth

Don’t tell me your to put the $10,000 for salaries.  Or the light bill.  That’s just gonna keep you at the same level you’re at. I wanna see how this number is gonna help you exponentially grow.

Closing

So I hope that these questions help you  dive into this question about getting “free” money for your business.  We all want free money for our business. But I really do encourage you first to start with what’s your sales plan for your business? How do you make money right now? What is the plan that you have on how your business is going to grow with the sales that you have? And then and then fit in how this business plan ?  How is this grant is going to help you exponentially grow?  

So if you haven’t already, sit down and work with a coach on this. There are definitely free mentoring opportunities like SCORE or New York State offers a free mentoring opportunity that you can go online to be able to get, or you can work with a business coach like me.  I’ll keep it real with you. I will make sure that you have what you need in order to be able to grow to that next level.

And what you take this away, don’t be discouraged if it’s not working, guys. I get it. It may seem really hard. It may seem like are not fitting the way you want. But this, if you figure this thing out, this is the thing that can really help you grow your business to the next level

 

 

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