As those of you who follow this blog know, I get a lot of my column ideas from questions people are asking in emails, and there are a lot of questions about finding start-up capital.
This past week, there's been a new twist on an old question. The question is basically "can I get the government to fund my start-up". Last week it was centered on Section 8(a) business development funding.
I would refer anyone looking for government grants for any kind of start up to the first sentence on the SBA website.
It reads: "SBA does NOT provide grants for starting and expanding a business."
It's hard to see how that could be any plainer, but apparently, some people think Section 8a funds are different.
First of all, this funding apparatus is for EXISTING businesses that have been in business at least three (3) years.
Second, the qualifications are not an "either-or" requirement. You must be BOTH socially and economically disadvantaged.
Third, this funding is for existing businesses that the government deems to be "small" businesses.
They make the determination, so what size you think your business might be is of no importance to them at all
Although the SBA is business-centric, nonprofits will find that the "three-years-in-business" qualifier is pretty standard even in the philanthropic arena.
There are tried and true ways for new businesses and nonprofits to raise money, but sorry, grants aren't one of the ways.
Almost all new business funding is in the form of one-to-one investors or donors. It might be from venture capital, where you give up a share of your business in exchange for funding, or from a few major donors or supporters, or from friends and family, but grants…no.
If you are interested in Section 8(a) funding and can meet the basic qualifications, then of course go for it.
Like all SBA or any other types of government funding, there are many hoops to jump through, but if you can qualify, then go for it. Just remember, true government grants are usually focused on the research and technology transfer fields, so be sure you fit into one of those areas before you spend any money or time to apply.