Here at Rebel we recommend spending as little money as possible when starting out, but what do you do when this isn’t an option? We want you to start a business without getting into debt so taking loans is out of the question. Instead we suggest searching for any grant funding that may be available. Grants are pots of money that various organisations and bodies have available to give to individuals or companies and more importantly, they are usually completely free.
Before you can apply for a grant you actually have to find one to apply for! There are two types of platforms that organisations use to manage the grant application process. These are:
In-house Portals – These are hosted by the organisation and will typically be larger organsations.
Grant Aggregators – These are established third party platforms used to host funding opportunities.
Have a search on Google and see what grants you can find. Here are a couple of examples that may be worth looking into:
idox – My Funding Central – this is a great tool for finding grants and is free for businesses with a turnover of less than £30k
Once you have found a grant you need to assess if the fund is suitable or not. Below are a few points to keep in mind:
Turnover requirements – Some pots of funding will require that you meet a certain tunover requirement
Specifications – Do you meet the specifications outlined in the grant?
Resources – are there other businesses you could partner with?
Accreditations – ISO, Health and Safety, training qualifications etc.
Existing commitments – can you make the timescale?
Time – Applying for grants can be a time consuming process. Do you have enough to invest?
Financial resources – do you have the cashflow? Some grants require you to match fund. Some grants will require you to buy the equipment upfront and then pay the grant to cover it.
Profitability – will it actually make you money?
Plan of Action
When you have a grant and checked that you have met the eligibility criteria, it is time to make a plan.
Firstly, we suggest that you put together a timeline for the process. You must make sure you meet the deadline for the application or you won’t be accepted, so it is essential that you are organised in your approach. Below is a rough timetable of how a typical BID application will look so you can factor this in when making a plan:
- Expression Of Interest (EOI) – This will not always be a part of the process,. but sometimes there is a deadline for expressing interest
- Question cut-off – often there will be a cut-off for when you can ask questions. This is usually a week before the deadline.
- Your target deadline – We recommend that you put a self-imposed deadline, usually at least a few days before the actual deadline just so you’re not risking having to get everything in at the last minute and risking something going wrong. If you submit early and make mistakes, don’t worry, you can often resubmit your bid as long as it’s before the final deadline
- Bid deadline – Every grant will have a deadline. After this time they will no longer accept applications. Make sure you get yours in before this date!
- Interview date – This will not always happen, but sometimes there will be an interview after you have submitted your application
It’s also worth noting, if there are any points that you are confused by when reading the bid criteria, also make sure to seek clarification. Remember that funders want to give out the money. They want to help businesses. Build a relationship with these people and you are much more likely to have a successful application
Writing a winning bid
- Confirm within the first paragraph and sentence that your organisation will meet the key requirements of the the offer
Explain and Evidence
- Give a brief overview of your organisations credentials in the area
- If the question has multiple requirements, make sure to use subheadings to make it clear that you are responding to each one
- If the meaning of the question is unclear, seek guidance. If you are unable to get clarity, make an assumption about what the question means and state the assumption in the response
- If the response will be lengthy or has multiple components, include a brief roadmap at the start so the reader knows how to navigate the answer
- Summarise the response with the extra elements your organisation can add and how these will contribute to the success of the project
Values – Firstly, what are your values and can you showcase how they align with the funders.
USP – What are the unique skills, knowledge, or experience that you can offer if you receive the funding.
Specifications – Make sure you clearly detail how you are going to meet all of the specifications of the grant.
Partnerships – Are there other businesses you could partner with as part of this application? This is a great way to improve your odds of being accepted.
Mindset – Lastly, how you present yourself is very important. Be positive and confident in your application. This is particularly relevant if there is an interview component of the process.
Recycle – If you have written a bid before, it is likely that much of the content will still be relevant in any future applications you do. Hold on to this to save yourself time and energy in the future.