All too often at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) we hear the question, “Where are the grants for women to start their businesses?” The answer: There are none. No really, there are none. If you find a grant for women starting a business, please post the information in the comments below, because in the last 27 years we have yet to see one.
Yes, there are loans for business start-ups, small business competitions with cash prizes and occasionally, you can find grants through Small Business Administration (SBA) non-profit partners, if you are already in business, but you aren’t going to find a grant without showing you have some “skin in the game.” You need to prove that you are just as invested in your business as investors, grantors or lenders are going to be. It’s time to get serious and shift your focus from looking for free money to building a solid foundation with a business plan, a thorough analysis of your financials (past personal and projected business) and target market research.
A question was recently posted on PartnerUp regarding the necessity of a traditional business plan. Some thought they were irrelevant in this day and age of the ever changing business climate, while others saw them as completely necessary. What do you think? Based on what we’ve seen with clients over the years, the ones that write down their idea into a solid plan and update that plan on a yearly basis have seen the greatest success and continue to sustain a fruitful business. Plus, when it comes time to look for funding, it’s unlikely you’ll be taken seriously without putting your business in writing.
So what can you do if you’re a start-up looking for funding? If you’re in Chicago, consider the WBDC Micro Finance Program, a direct lending program where the WBDC, as a core member of the Chicago Microlending Intitute (CMI), is making loans for Chicago business owners seeking additional support. Plus, the WBDC provides a free webinar, Take the Mystery out of Finance, every month, and below is the most recent recording of the presentation, which covers crowdfunding and more. Watch it, take notes, and if you have questions ask us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In two weeks, we’ll discuss more about furthering your education as a business owner when it comes to finance. In the meantime, take time to become educated on financial resources available for you. Here are just a few more, besides WBDC, to take a look at: