Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success

Grants for Women in Business

cc courtesy of homerlibrary via Flickr

Surprising fact: women in business are more likely to succeed in getting grants than men are. Yes that’s right. Why? Well for once social conditioning might just be paying off. Lots of us have been brought up to be more careful about preparation. Just think about school kids and homework: the girls tend to make the greater effort. The good girl grounding is paying-off in more grants for women in business, but even so, it is tougher than ever to get a business grant of any type. Here are our top tips for increasing your odds of winning any grant funding opportunities that come your way:




1. Be really sure that it’s right for your business. Chasing grants can distort a solid business or idea and take-up more time and energy than they’re worth. Start by being really sure that this grant will take your business in the direction you want to go. Funding should follow mission, not the other way around! If it doesn’t, don’t do it.

2. Do a thorough search.  Grant-finding databases are a good place to start. You can search by what you want to achieve – for example, training, innovation, environmental improvements. You can also search by  personal or businesses characteristics, such as location, sector, your age, gender etc. The following sites are extensive and free:

www.grantsnet.co.uk
www.j4bgrants.co.uk
www.grantfinder.co.uk

Those databases pick-up most schemes, including small local ones. But have a good search on the internet too, especially if your business is very niche, or you are part of a particular target group (there are funds for ex-service people  for example). Also, keep an eye on the local press and talk to the local enterprise agency or your Council Economic Development Unit. Trade associations can be another good source for grants for businesses in your sector.

[Note – Grantfinder is a subscription-based service, however it is often offered as a free service by third parties such as local libraries, councils, voluntary sector support bodies etc. You may be able to find a free provider in your area by searching ‘grantfinder’ + your area.]

3.  Think laterally. When is a grant not a grant? Quite often when it’s called an Award. There are lots of those for women in business – see our listings of women’s business awards. Some give cash or equivalent prizes and others give you lots of free PR and credibility. Some high profile women’s business award programmes get a lot fewer entries than you’d think, especially those that are in narrow sectors.

4.  Meet the criteria.  Almost every fund publishes a list of criteria that they judge applications against.  Make sure that you respond clearly to every point. Give evidence and examples of how you match what they are looking for. Make sure your evidence is as up-to-date as possible and based on reliable sources.




5. Follow the guidelines.  Tick-off and double check that you’ve followed every single guideline in the grant information. If they give word counts, stick to them. If  they ask you to address your application in a certain way, follow that exactly. Append all the documents you’re asked for. Meet the deadline, not a second late or your application is unlikely to be accepted. Small exceptions may seem trivial, but they are an easy way for your application to be knocked-off the massive pile of applications most funders receive.

6. Keep it real. Quotes from customers or clients are really powerful: provide testimonials, client feedback and affirmations. If you are allowed to, include photographs or even video to show the impact of what you’re doing or plan to do.

7. Do it yourself. While getting expert help and input can help, make sure that you complete the application yourself. You need to understand every line, so that if you are interviewed or have to deliver a pitch, you can answer every question.

8. Presentation is key. Make sure your grant application is professionally presented and proof read. You’re asking for lots of cash, so don’t undermine your case with lazy typos! If you have to deliver a pitch, draft bullet points on a card and rehearse it over and over. Make sure you know your financials inside out.




 9. Get known. If at all possible try to get to know your funder and find ways of letting them know about you. Take any opportunity you can to meet them face to face, for example at networking events. Also if they are happy to be contacted with questions about the funding application, then take advantage of that, but make sure you only do it once and have a sensible list of questions prepared. If you’re applying for a significant grant then it can help to build your PR profile, get some press coverage and talk to anyone who may have some influence.

10. Follow-up. After you’ve completed your grant application and sent it off, make sure you check that it was received on time and that everything was in order. If it’s a winning application, then you will have to complete follow-up reports accounting for how the money has been spent and what impact it has made. If you don’t succeed this time, always ask for feedback.  As they say – ‘There’s no such thing as failure, only feedback.’ If you learn from it, you’ll be one step closer to succeeding the next time. Good luck!

The Women’s Business Finance Guide – Free eBook

  • A plain-English overview of all the main types of business finance, including loans, grants, equity, bootstrapping, crowdfunding etc.
  • Pros and cons of each type of funding, women’s angles and routes, links and advice.
  • Exercises to help you assess your financial psychology.

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Erika Watson

Erika Watson

Hi, I am the founder and editor of Prowess, so the person to get in touch with if you have any ideas, queries or feedback: erika [a] prowess.org.uk. I run my own business too: Greenwell Consulting a communications company focusing on Enterprise, Environment & Equality. See here for details of our Start-up and Business Development workshops.
Erika Watson

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18 Responses to Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success

  1. Sue Grogan (@SueGrogan) April 18, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    A good article! Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success http://t.co/D5069nZP

  2. LeicestHERday Trust (@LeicestHERday) April 18, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    RT @SueGrogan: A good article! Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success http://t.co/D5069nZP

  3. Michelle Darcy (@WomenCoach) April 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    RT @WomensBiz: Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success http://t.co/FM9gPLKb

  4. Miss Black USA 2011 (@Ocielia) April 18, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    RT @WomensBiz: Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success http://t.co/FM9gPLKb

  5. Melanie Maritz (@melmaritz) April 19, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    RT @WomensBiz: Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success http://t.co/FM9gPLKb

  6. Rebecca_Jones (@RedShoeBizWoman) April 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success http://t.co/efcZCnF5 from @WomensBiz blog #womeninbusiness

  7. Julia Debattista (@CSJ_Community) April 20, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    RT @RedShoeBizWoman Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success http://t.co/f6uR3q38 from @WomensBiz blog >>> @I_Am_WomanWales

  8. Jackie Groundsell (@1230jackie) April 21, 2012 at 12:11 am #

    RT @WomensBiz: Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success http://t.co/FM9gPLKb

  9. Angela Roberts (@glamoriginals) April 21, 2012 at 12:26 am #

    RT @WomensBiz: Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success http://t.co/FM9gPLKb

  10. Ali Meehan (@costawomen) April 21, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    RT @WomensBiz: Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success http://t.co/Py9hWHh6 UK #bizitalk

  11. Trena (Fitz2Kleen) (@fitz2kleen2) April 21, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    RT @costawomen: RT @WomensBiz: Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success http://t.co/Py9hWHh6 UK #bizitalk

  12. Tradesbook.uk.com (@richy1p) April 21, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    RT @costawomen: RT @WomensBiz: Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success http://t.co/Py9hWHh6 UK #bizitalk

  13. RINTA June 7, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    http://www.grantsnet.co.uk – my local postcode/or any postcode in a 20 mile radius doesnt have accesswww.j4bgrants.co.ukwww.grantfinder.co.uk – is not free to everyone, you need to subscribe to it or find a library/CVS  who provides access

  14. WomensBiz June 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    Hi Rinta, thank very much for taking the time to share this information.  I’ve double checked and you are right – Grantfinder CAN be free, if you use it via a library, local authority, CVS etc., but to use it directly you need to subscribe. A good way of finding a free provider in your area is to google ‘grant finder’ + your area.  I can use it directly this way via the business section of my local council’s website.  

    I don’t understand your point re Grantsnet.  It doesn’t seem to have any post-code limitations and is openly accessible to all via the website.  As is J4bgrants (but you need to register). Are you based outside the UK?

    I will update the article with your points re Grantfinder. :) 

  15. @AthenaNorthOx November 20, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success – http://t.co/6fLtf0CZ

  16. @amystuartltd December 25, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success – http://t.co/nWiXxdFV

  17. @BEScoachlongton January 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    RT @BEScoachcastle: Grants for Women in Business: 10 Steps to Success – http://t.co/fPvp01eK

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