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When you run a business, nothing ever seems to stay the same. New products and services to launch, competitors to fight off and endless other things to pay for.

The key to your business surviving long term lies in innovation and growth – but that requires money. There are lots of funding options available to businesses, including grant funding.

Getting your head around the various grants on offer can be daunting. But the fact is, once you find something that works for you, it’s a fantastic chance to really push your business on.

We’ve put together this guide to delve into the intricacies of applying for a business grant with a little more clarity and confidence.

What is a business grant?

Before diving into the application process, it’s worth understanding what business grants actually are. Unlike loans, grants are funds provided by governments, corporations, or foundations, and don’t need to be paid back.

They are typically awarded based on specific criteria and objectives, often aimed at boosting economic growth, fostering innovation, or addressing challenges within society.

What are the different types of business grants?

There are all sorts of business grants available, and they tend to be updated regularly. Some are offered by various companies or enterprises, but many are provided by either central government or local authorities.

Business grants can cover a huge range of sectors and purposes, depending on what you’re looking to do. A good place to start is the Government Grant Finder on the Gov.uk website, however to give you an idea here are just some of the most common business grants available:

Research and Development (R&D) grants

These grants have been around for many years now and are offered by the government to support businesses in developing innovative products, processes, or services. They are generally awarded to encourage technological advancement and enhance competitiveness. You might also be able to claim tax relief on your R&D activities as a limited company.

Regional grants

As the name suggests, regional grants are about supporting economic growth in specific parts of the UK. They may target industries that are important to the economic development of a particular region, or where additional infrastructure of some kind is needed.

Startup grants

Startup grants are designed to support newly established businesses, offering funding to cover initial costs such as equipment, marketing and hiring. They can give you a valuable lifeline while you’re in the early stages of setting up and developing your business.

Green grants

Green grants focus mainly on sustainability and environmental initiatives and are ideal for supporting businesses that want to cut their carbon footprint or develop renewable energy solutions.

The Carbon Trust offers grants to help businesses reduce their carbon emissions through energy efficiency improvements and by taking up low-carbon technologies.

Inward investment support

Some grants are available to attract foreign investment into the UK. This can particularly be the case in specific sectors or regions. You can find out more about inward investment support on the Gov.uk website.

How should I put together my application for a business grant?

Putting together a successful grant application needs plenty of preparation and strategic planning. Here are some of the key things to think about.

Research the eligibility criteria

Each grant scheme has specific eligibility criteria around business size, industry sector, location, and project scope. It’s well worth carrying out thorough research to make sure your business meets the requirements before you proceed with the application.

Work out which grants are most suitable

Explore available grant opportunities that meet with your business goals and objectives. Think about factors like funding amount, application deadlines and eligibility criteria to prioritise relevant grants.

Develop a compelling business plan

Build a really comprehensive business plan that outlines your company’s mission, vision, market analysis, competitive advantage and growth strategies. Make sure you’re clear in articulating how the grant funds will contribute to achieving your business objectives.

Get together all the necessary documentation

Prepare all necessary documents, including financial statements, project proposals, incorporation documents and any other information requested in the grant application guidelines.

How do I apply for a business grant?

Once you’ve got yourself prepared, you’re ready to get started on the grant application journey. While the specific process will vary depending on the grant provider, the following general steps are commonly involved.

Register online

Most grant applications are submitted through online portals or platforms. You’ll need to register your business and create an account on the grant provider’s website to access the application form.

Complete the application form

Provide accurate and detailed information in the application form, addressing all required fields and questions. Be concise yet comprehensive in your responses, making sure you stay clear and coherent.

Although you won’t normally need to repay a grant like you do with a loan, you’ll still need to demonstrate that yours is a viable business capable of growth.

Attach supporting documents

Upload the necessary supporting documents, including financial statements and reports, business plans, project proposals and any additional materials requested by the grant provider.

Review and submit

Review the completed application thoroughly to check for errors, inconsistencies, or missing information. Make necessary revisions and ensure all documentation is properly attached before submitting the application.

Top tips for success

Navigating the mind-boggling array of grant applications requires diligence, strategy, and attention to detail. Here are some tips to boost your chances of success:

Tailor your application

Customise your application to align with the objectives and priorities of the grant scheme. Highlight how your project addresses specific criteria and demonstrates innovation, impact, and feasibility.

Get professional advice

Consider getting some guidance from business advisors, consultants, or grant writing experts to give your application the best chance of success.

Demonstrate impact

Clearly show the potential impact of your project on your business, industry, and community. Give evidence of market demand, scalability, and sustainability to showcase how viable your proposal is.

Follow the instructions carefully

Pay close attention to the application guidelines and instructions provided by the grant provider. Make sure you stick to formatting requirements, word limits and submission deadlines so you don’t accidentally end up disqualified.

Looking to push your business on to the next level? Find out more about our online accountancy services and call 020 3355 4047, or get an instant online quote.

About The Author

Lee Murphy

MAAT and ICPA accountant, with a passion for making accountancy and bookkeeping accessible. Other interests include cloud-based software development for web and mobile access, keeping fit, reading, and entrepreneurship.

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