Small business grants can be a game-changer for entrepreneurs looking to start or expand their business ventures. Most grants have intense competition and strict guidelines to follow. It can make the process of applying for these grants daunting. However, a compelling grant proposal can be the key to standing out from the crowd and securing the funding needed to achieve your business goals. In this post, I’ll share some tips and strategies to help you navigate the grant application process and create a persuasive proposal.

Understand the Grant Requirements and Guidelines.

Grant Application Form for Small Business | Small Business GrantBefore you start writing your grant proposal, it’s important to thoroughly understand the requirements and guidelines. Failure to follow these guidelines could result in your application being rejected, so it’s vital to take the time to read and understand them thoroughly. This includes eligibility criteria, application deadlines, funding amounts, and any specific requirements for the proposal itself.

Eligibility Criteria

One of the first things to consider when reviewing grant requirements is the eligibility criteria. Grants may have specific requirements related to the type of business or industry, location, size, or other factors. Make sure your business meets all the eligibility requirements before proceeding with your application. For example, I talked about grants for felons in a recent article. I mentioned how some grants may exclude individuals with felonies, some do not exclude those individuals, and others are exclusively for individuals with felonies. The key is understanding the criteria before investing time and energy into putting together a proposal.

Application Deadlines

Another critical aspect to consider is the application deadline. Some grants have strict deadlines that won’t accept late applications. For example, the FedEx Small Business Grant has a yearly deadline in February. To increase your chances of success, be sure to plan ahead and give yourself enough time to complete the application thoroughly and submit it before the deadline.

Funding Amounts

Funding amounts can also vary greatly between grants. It’s important to understand the amount of funding available and how it can be used. Some grants may require a matching contribution from the business, while others may have restrictions on how the funds can be spent. When I worked for the Small Business Development Center in North Dakota, most of the grants I found for entrepreneurs required matching funds. Sometimes I was able to leverage those matching funds with multiple grants. So, keep that in mind.

Special Requirements & Assistance

Finally, it’s essential to pay close attention to any specific requirements for the proposal itself. This could include page limits, formatting guidelines, or specific questions that need to be addressed. Make sure you read these requirements carefully and follow them closely to avoid having your application rejected.

If you have any questions or need clarification on any aspect of the grant requirements and guidelines, don’t hesitate to reach out to the grant provider for assistance. They can provide valuable insights and guidance to help you create a successful application. My personal experience is that grant providers want to find eligible candidates to award. If your project is within their mission, they can be generous with the assistance they provide. Above all, by taking the time to review and understand the requirements, you can increase your chances of securing the funding your small business needs to thrive.

Develop a Clear and Concise Business Plan.

Investor-Ready Business PlanAs an entrepreneur looking to secure a small business grant, one of the most important steps you can take is to develop a clear and concise business plan. A well-written business plan is the backbone of any successful grant proposal, as it outlines your goals and provides a roadmap for achieving them.

Key Elements

When developing your business plan, it’s important to cover all the key elements that grant providers are looking for. These include your business goals, target market, competition, marketing strategy, financial projections, and any other relevant information. By providing a comprehensive and detailed plan, you’ll demonstrate to the grant provider that you have a solid understanding of your business and are capable of executing on your vision.


To ensure your plan is easy to read and understand, use clear headings and subheadings to break up the content. This will make it easier for the grant provider to navigate and locate the information they need. Additionally, use data and statistics to support your claims and demonstrate the potential impact of your business. By providing concrete evidence of your business’s potential, you’ll make a stronger case for why it deserves funding.


Another important aspect of a successful business plan is its ability to persuade. Remember, the goal of your plan is to convince the grant provider that your business is a worthy investment. To achieve this, you’ll need to be compelling and persuasive in your writing. Use strong language and vivid descriptions to convey your passion and enthusiasm for your business. It’s up to you to make a clear case for why it’s a valuable addition to the marketplace.

By covering all the key elements and providing a well-organized and persuasive plan, you’ll increase your chances of securing the funding you need to start or grow your business.

Highlight Your Unique Selling Proposition.

One of the most important elements of a winning small business grant proposal is highlighting your unique selling proposition (USP). Highlighting your unique selling proposition (USP) can be a game-changer when it comes to securing a small business grant. Above all, make sure to clearly articulate it in your proposal and explain why it makes your business a strong investment.

Define Your USP

Firstly, let’s define what a USP is. A USP is the unique value proposition that your business offers to customers. Your USP sets it apart from competitors in the marketplace. It could be a feature or benefit of your product or service, a specific target audience that you cater to, or a different approach to marketing.

When crafting your proposal, be sure to clearly articulate your USP. Additionally, explain how it will make your business a strong investment. Use examples and data to demonstrate the potential impact of your USP. This will show how it will help your business succeed. For example, if your USP is a unique feature of your product, provide statistics on the demand for that feature in the marketplace. If your USP is a different approach to marketing, provide case studies of similar businesses that have successfully used that approach.

Importance of Your USP

So why is highlighting your USP so important when it comes to small business grant proposals? The reason is that grant providers receive countless proposals from businesses seeking funding. They are looking for those that stand out from the crowd. By highlighting your USP, you can demonstrate to the grant provider that your business offers something unique and valuable to the marketplace.

Remember, the key to a successful USP is to make it compelling and persuasive. Be confident in what sets your business apart and be sure to showcase it in the best possible light. By highlighting your USP, you can make a lasting impression on the grant provider. In turn, it can increase your chances of securing the funding you need to take your small business to the next level.

Demonstrate Your Financial Need and Sustainability.

Key Financial Statements | Small Business GrantAs an entrepreneur, you know that running a business requires a lot of hard work and dedication. But sometimes, even with your best efforts, you might find yourself in need of financial assistance to take your business to the next level. Small business grants are a great way to get the funding you need, but in order to be successful in obtaining one, you need to demonstrate your financial need and sustainability.

Financial Plan

To do this, it’s important to have a solid financial plan in place. You also need to show that the grant funding will be used effectively to achieve your goals. This plan should include a detailed budget and financial projections for the future. In addition,  use any relevant financial statements or reports as support. It’s important to show the grant provider that you have a clear understanding of your business’s financial situation. They also want to see that you have a plan in place to use the grant funding effectively to achieve your goals.

Prior Success

In addition to your financial plan, it’s also important to highlight any efforts you have made to secure other sources of funding or revenue streams. This can include partnerships, sponsorships, or other types of investments. By demonstrating that you have a diversified approach to funding your business, you are showing the grant provider that you are taking a responsible and proactive approach to your business’s financial sustainability.

Overall, demonstrating your financial need and sustainability is a critical component of a successful small business grant proposal. By taking the time to develop a strong financial plan and highlighting your efforts to secure other sources of funding, you can show the grant provider that you are a responsible and reliable investment.

Provide Strong Supporting Documents and Testimonials

The last tip piece of advice I want to share with you relates to supporting evidence. As you prepare to apply for a small business grant, remember that a well-crafted proposal is only one piece of the puzzle. Providing strong supporting documents and testimonials can also greatly increase your chances of success. These documents can serve as proof of your business’s financial stability, growth potential, and impact on the community. I’ve already mentioned a business and financial plan. Here are a few other pieces to help your proposal.

Resumes of key team members can also be helpful. They demonstrate the experience and expertise of your team. Your team’s credentials can help build credibility with the grant provider. Letters of recommendation from clients or industry experts can also show that your business has a positive reputation and is making a difference in the community or industry.

Don’t underestimate the power of testimonials. Positive feedback from satisfied customers or partners can demonstrate the impact your business has had. It can also help build trust with the grant provider. Make sure to include relevant testimonials that highlight the USP of your business.

Finally, make sure these documents are organized, easy to understand, and highlight the most important information to make a strong case for your business.

Final Thoughts on Writing a Small Business Grant Proposal

Small business grants offer a valuable opportunity for entrepreneurs to turn their dreams into reality. By understanding the requirements and guidelines of the grant, developing a clear and concise business plan, highlighting your unique selling proposition, demonstrating financial need and sustainability, and providing strong supporting documents and testimonials, you can increase your chances of securing the funding you need. Remember, the key to success is to present your business in the best possible light. You can do this by showcasing its potential and demonstrating its value as a worthy investment.