Banks and government agencies such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) can be a vital resource for entrepreneurs who need money to launch their business or keep it afloat. But sometimes the options these institutions offer may not be the right fit for your operation.
The good news is that, beyond lending from commercial banks and the SBA, small businesses have other avenues they can take to get funding. Finding the right source may “depend on a variety of factors,” including the size of your company, your industry and your location, says Wayne Lorgus, senior partner at B2B CFO, a Mesa, Arizona–based firm that provides cash-flow and management strategy services to privately held companies.
If you're seeking money for your business and want to consider options beyond bank loans, here are some possibilities.
Grants can be the perfect combination, providing cash that can help your business and that you don't have to pay back. That's why even though grants can be hard to come by, they're worth exploring, especially as more industry and economic development groups are trying to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"What I'm seeing a lot more of now is these locally sourced programs, figuring out how to inject capital right to local businesses,” says Roy Lamphier, founder and CEO of Excelerate America, a Detroit-based organization that helps small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) grow. One of the organization's offerings is a local funding finder, which can help small-business owners locate grants and other funding sources.
The following websites let you search for a variety of grants.
- Economic Development Authority: State and regional economic development agencies and resources have a wide range of programs, including some grant options, depending on the area. While the listing of latest grant opportunities can be unwieldy, the organization has a handy map that links to state and regional resources that you can contact directly for information.
- Grants.gov: This massive website lists federal grant opportunities, including those offered to SMBs.
- GrantWatch: A privately owned compilation of grants, it allows you to search specifically for SMB opportunities.
- State Business Incentives Database: Featuring grants, tax incentives and other state-level opportunities, this database is compiled by the Council for Community and Economic Research.