How to find local grants and loans and how to prepare for them

Securing grants and loans can be a valuable way to take your business to the next level. But how do you find them? And how do you make sure you’re prepared to apply for them? We answer both of those questions in this blog, so you’re equipped with the knowledge you need to get the financial support you deserve.

Grants are essentially free money for small businesses (meaning: you don’t have to pay them back like you do with loans). That’s why they can be a smart choice for small business owners looking to recover, grow, or pivot their business. If you’re looking for grants, here’s where you should look:

  1. Your state economic agency’s website. You should always look for available funding on the website of whichever agency manages grants for your state.

    For Washingtonians (the state, not the capital of the U.S.), business owners can learn about local grants on Washington State’s Department of Commerce (DOC) website. In addition to providing general information about open grants, loans, and requests for proposals, the DOC lists specific funding options for small and growing businesses and offers an incredible menu of free small business services you can utilize to make the most out of your finances. Beyond public grants, many state agencies will also list private funding resources that they’ve already vetted.
  2. Your county’s website. If you’re a small business in Seattle, you can check King County’s website for any country-specific grant programs, as well as other helpful resources and tips.
  3. Neighborhood business organizations. Many local neighborhoods have organizations and resources designed to support small businesses. Ask your local leaders or other small businesses in the neighborhood where you operate to see if an organization like that exists, and how you can stay up to date on any funding opportunities. Most local organizations will have email lists and community meetings where you can learn about available resources for your small business. For example, Black Gallina is part of the Ballard Alliance in Seattle.

If you’re looking to secure a small business loan (money that you pay back over time), we suggest reviewing the same resources as above and talking with your local bank(s). Some loans are offered through public-private partnerships and are often posted along with grants on government agency websites. Additionally, many banks have a wide range of small business loan programs that can be tailored to fit your needs. You can also research and get matched to lenders through the Small Business Administration’s website.

Tip: It goes without saying that you should always do your due diligence when researching and applying for grants and loans. And if something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut. If you’re curious if a grant or loan is legitimate or if it’s the right fit for your business, reach out to our team.

Applying for a grant or loan is pretty simple as long as you’re prepared. Here are our top tips for making your grant and loan applications straightforward—and for keeping yourself organized in the process:

  1. Make sure your tax filings are up to date.
  2. Ensure your business licenses are up to date.
  3. Keep your financial statements accessible (Good bookkeeping practices make this possible).
  4. Have an organized document management process. Most grants that include federal money require proof of documentation, so having access to all your relevant documents at the press of a few buttons will save you a lot of time.
  5. If you’re claiming multiple grants and if there are restrictions on your grant, you’ll need to be extra careful in designating which grants apply to which areas of your business.

Grants are a great way to fund your business, but you’ll want to make sure you have strong financial infrastructure in place to handle the compliance requirements for grants.

Have questions on how to secure a grant or loan or manage your financial infrastructure? Reach out to our team.