What’s Not to Love About Free Money for Your Business?

Incentives are not just for the big businesses that can lobby and navigate tax breaks. They come in all shapes and sizes for small businesses, too, if you know where to look.

Here's your GPS guide to some of the best money breaks around to put your business on a path to success!

Startup Grants

Let's face it. Money, or the lack of it, is the most significant barrier to anyone who hopes to start a business. That's why these grants can be difference makers:

Hello Alice Grants

Hello Alice partners with various companies, such as Progressive and DoorDash, to offer grants for small businesses, including startups. In addition, they offer business loans and keys to discounts on a variety of business services.

Amber Grant for Women

These grants provide monthly awards to qualifying startups of $10,000 and bi-annual awards of $25,000 through WomensNet. Additional funding is available throughout the year—plus, a simple, single application streamlines the process.

Big Dream Award—U.S. Chamber of Commerce

This annual award of $25,000 is available to businesses with less than a year of operation in categories including emerging, green or sustainable companies.

Corporate Grants

These grants are available through the philanthropic efforts of corporate citizens who understand and appreciate the role a robust small business community plays in our economy.

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

This annual grant competition awards over $250,000 to ten small businesses. The competition includes a $50,000 grant and $4,000 worth of FedEx print and business services to three grand prize winners. Qualifying businesses must be based in the U.S., have fewer than 100 employees, and have been in business a minimum of six months.

Visa Everywhere Initiative:

This grant competition offers tech-forward startups funding across five different regions worldwide. The competition rewards applicants who show how they've developed a product or service that creatively incorporates Visa product offerings. The winner is awarded a $100,000 small-business grant. Additional grants are also awarded to second and third-place finalists.

Patagonia Corporate Grants Program

The Patagonia Corporate Grants Program rewards nonprofits that preserve and protect the environment. The retailer looks for innovative businesses with specific goals, objectives, and action plans and awards them anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000.

Federal Grants

The federal government is one of the largest providers of grant money for small businesses looking to grow. Listed here are just some of the money options available.

Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs

With a focus on research and development for technology innovation and scientific research, this program connects small businesses with federal grants and contracts from nearly a dozen government agencies. Qualified applicants must operate a for-profit company, have no more than 500 employees and meet other eligibility requirements.

USDA Rural Business Development Grants 

These grants are designed to provide financing to strengthen and grow small businesses in rural communities. They're offered and administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Business Development Grant program.

To qualify, businesses must have fewer than 50 new employees, less than $1 million in gross revenue, and be located in an eligible rural area. Applications are accepted through the USDA Rural Development's local or state offices.

Program for Investors in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME)

The PRIME program offers federal grants to microenterprise development organizations so they can assist disadvantaged microentrepreneurs. These organizations can be private nonprofits or run by state, local or tribal governments.

State Grants

State and regional grants can fill gaps where other entities don't.

Minority Business Development Agency Centers

MBDA centers help minority business owners access capital, secure contracts, and compete in emerging markets. Local centers can help you apply for loans and federal, state, and local business grants. The agency usually holds an annual small-business grant competition and provides updates on this contest on its website.

State Trade Expansion Program (STEP)

The STEP grant program offered through the SBA helps small businesses cover costs to start or expand into international markets. Grant amounts and eligibility criteria vary by state. Still, capital can be used for various purposes, including export trade shows, international marketing products, and website globalization.

No matter what small business or industry you're in, there's no shortage of options for finding funds to expand. For more information, an online search of 'small business grants' will yield countless more options for you to consider.

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