20 free grants for your business startup

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This is the fifth installment in a five-part series. Part Four: “Being Your Own Boss: Benefits, Drawbacks, and Tips”


There might not be such a thing as having too many resources when it comes to starting your own business. What could be more helpful than information on free grants to start your business, or to expand it?  How about contests? Or other small business funding programs targeted toward women, owners of color, veterans, or other groups? We’ve put together a list of grants and funding programs for startups along with some super useful checklists of best practices for you, to help you no matter where you are on your journey.

Small Business Grants 2022: The Top 17

What could be more useful than small business loans and grants when you’re turning your idea into reality? These programs offer help that could prove a turning point.

1. Small Business Awards

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce every year gives out various awards of up to $25,000 with the Small Business “Dream Big” Award, honoring the achievements of small businesses and highlighting their contributions to America’s economic growth.

2. Minority-Owned Business Loans and Grants

The U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) offers targeted grants and loans designed to aid minority-owned businesses. Owners can find information about the programs at MBDA.gov.For more information, see Small Business Grants for Minorities.

3. Women-Owned SBA Program

Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program is a federal government program contracting dollars to women-owned businesses every year. Through this Small Business Administration (SBA) program,  women entrepreneurs get business training, counseling, federal contracts, and access to credit and capital. For more information, see Small Business Grants for Women

4. The Self Employed Growth Grant

The National Association for the Self Employed (NASE) offers growth grants of up to $4,000.Since 2006, the NASE has awarded nearly $1 million in small business grants. They can be used for marketing, advertising, hiring employees, expanding facilities, and other business needs.

5. Innovation Research and Tech Programs

Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs: The SBIR and the STTR grant programs focus on research and development for technology innovation and scientific research. The programs help connect small businesses with federal grants and contracts with 11 government agencies.

6. The FedEx Small Business Grant

The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest offers corporate small business grants for growth. FedEx awards $25,000 in grants to 12 qualified applicants as well as additional services each year through their small business grant contest.

7. Amber Grant for Women

Since 1998, the Amber Grant has been giving money to female entrepreneurs monthly. They’ve expanded their grant-giving to include “Marketing Grants” and “Business Category Grants,” as well as two “$25,000 Year End Grants.”

8. Veterans Grant

The Second Service Foundation (formerly StreetShares) offers small business grants for veterans. The Veteran Small Business Award provides financial support to help veterans who lack the financial means to start or grow their small businesses.

9. Refugees Grant

Provided by the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Microenterprise Development Program helps refugees develop, expand, or maintain their own businesses and become financially independent. To equip refugees with the skills they need to become successful entrepreneurs, the program provides training and technical assistance.

10. Nonprofit Environment Grant

Patagonia Corporate Grants Program: Nonprofits interested in protecting the environment can apply for a small-business grant through the Patagonia Corporate Grants Program. The retailer looks for innovative businesses with proposed projects that are quantifiable and have specific goals, objectives, and action plans. These nonprofit grants typically fall between $5,000 and $20,000.

11. Rural Small Business Grant

The U.S. Department of Agriculture administers the USDA Rural Business Development Grants program, which provides financing to strengthen and grow small businesses in rural communities.

12. Grant Application Database for Women-Owned Businesses

IFundWomen is a grant marketplace that specializes in funding and coaching for women-owned businesses. You can submit one application and when IFundWomen adds a grant from an enterprise partner, it will match the partner’s grant criteria to applications within the database. If your business is a match, you’ll receive a notification and invitation to apply.

13. Federal Grants for Disadvantaged Micro-Entrepreneurs

The Program for Investors in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME) offers federal grants to micro-enterprise development organizations so that they can provide assistance to disadvantaged micro-entrepreneurs. These organizations, such as the Nebraska Enterprise Fund and the Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon, both of which were awarded funding in 2021, can be private nonprofits or run by state, local, or tribal governments.

14. Facebook Small Business Resources

Small Business Funding is a resource offered by Meta for business owners to connect with purpose-driven lenders, access educational resources, and find communities of small business owners like them.

15. Visa Program for Tech Startups

The Visa Everywhere Initiative is a grant competition that offers funding to tech-forward startups across five different regions worldwide. Applicants must show how they’ve developed a product or service that creatively involves Visa’s products. The overall winner of the competition is awarded a $100,000 small-business grant. Additional grants are awarded to finalists.

16. Marketing Makeover Award

Through the Comcast RISE program, startup businesses can receive free marketing services and technology makeovers. These awards are given quarterly to businesses that have been operational for at least one year. To qualify, you also need to be located within the Comcast or Effectv service area—and your business must be 51% owned by someone who identifies as a woman or person of color.

17. Hello Alice Funding and Partnerships

The Hello Alice Grant Platform partners with a variety of companies, such as Progressive and DoorDash, to offer different grants for small businesses, including startups. You can create an account to receive notifications about new opportunities and apply to the grants that are relevant to your business.

3 Checklists of Best Practices for Small Business Success

These three checklists will help you cover all the bases.

18. Internal Revenue Service Checklist

The IRS checklist below provides the basic steps you should follow to start a business, along with useful links for action: 1. Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) if applicable2. Select a business structure3. Choose a tax year4. If you have employees, have them fill out Form I-9 and Form W-45. Pay your business taxes. Information about specific industries can be found at the Industries/Professions Web page.

19. Chamber of Commerce Checklist on Insurance

The insurance policies you need will depend on the size of your company (i.e., how many employees you hire) as well as your assets and liabilities. The Chamber of Commerce recommends looking into these:

  • Worker’s compensation
  • Professional liability insurance
  • Product liability insurance
  • Business vehicle insurance
  • Small business health insurance
  • General liability insurance

20. Checklist for Digital Marketing Success Plan

Cover these five bases to help your business take off:

  1. Create a brand identity
  2. Build a website
  3. Establish a social media presence
  4. Activate email marketing
  5. Explore online advertising

Learn More:

This article originally appeared on LanternCredit.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


Lantern by SoFi:

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All rates, fees, and terms are presented without guarantee and are subject to change pursuant to each provider’s discretion. There is no guarantee you will be approved or qualify for the advertised rates, fees, or terms presented. The actual terms you may receive depends on the things like benefits requested, your credit score, usage, history and other factors.

*Check your rate: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, Lantern and/or its network lenders conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender(s) you choose will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

All loan terms, including interest rate, and Annual Percentage Rate (APR), and monthly payments shown on this website are from lenders and are estimates based upon the limited information you provided and are for information purposes only. Estimated APR includes all applicable fees as required under the Truth in Lending Act. The actual loan terms you receive, including APR, will depend on the lender you select, their underwriting criteria, and your personal financial factors. The loan terms and rates presented are provided by the lenders and not by SoFi Lending Corp. or Lantern. Please review each lender’s Terms and Conditions for additional details.

Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website on credit

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Personal Loan:

SoFi Lending Corp. (“SoFi”) operates this Personal Loan product in cooperation with Even Financial Corp. (“Even”). If you submit a loan inquiry, SoFi will deliver your information to Even, and Even will deliver to its network of lenders/partners to review to determine if you are eligible for pre-qualified or pre-approved offers. The lenders/partners receiving your information will also obtain your credit information from a credit reporting agency. If you meet one or more lender’s and/or partner’s conditions for eligibility, pre-qualified and pre-approved offers from one or more lenders/partners will be presented to you here on the Lantern website. More information about Even, the process, and its lenders/partners is described on the loan inquiry form you will reach by visiting our Personal Loans page as well as our Student Loan Refinance page. Click to learn more about Even’s Licenses and DisclosuresTerms of Service, and Privacy Policy.

Personal loan offers provided to customers on Lantern do not exceed 35.99% APR. An example of total amount paid on a personal loan of $10,000 for a term of 36 months at a rate of 10% would be equivalent to $11,616.12 over the 36 month life of the loan.

Student Loan Refinance:

SoFi Lending Corp. (“SoFi”) operates this Student Loan Refinance product in cooperation with Even Financial Corp. (“Even”). If you submit a loan inquiry, SoFi will deliver your information to Even, and Even will deliver to its network of lenders/partners to review to determine if you are eligible for pre-qualified or pre-approved offers. The lender’s receiving your information will also obtain your credit information from a credit reporting agency. If you meet one or more lender’s and/or partner’s conditions for eligibility, pre-qualified and pre-approved offers from one or more lenders/partners will be presented to you here on the Lantern website. More information about Even, the process, and its lenders/partners is described on the loan inquiry form you will reach by visiting our Personal Loans page as well as our Student Loan Refinance page. Click to learn more about Even’s Licenses and DisclosuresTerms of Service, and Privacy Policy.


Notice: Private student loans do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE.

Auto Loan Refinance:

Automobile refinancing loan information presented on this Lantern website is from Caribou. Auto loan refinance information presented on this Lantern site is indicative and subject to you fulfilling the lender’s requirements, including: you must meet the lender’s credit standards, the loan amount must be at least $10,000, and the vehicle is no more than 10 years old with odometer reading of no more than 125,000 miles. Loan rates and terms as presented on this Lantern site are subject to change when you reach the lender and may depend on your creditworthiness. Additional terms and conditions may apply and all terms may vary by your state of residence.

Secured Lending Disclosure:

Terms, conditions, state restrictions, and minimum loan amounts apply. Before you apply for a secured loan, we encourage you to carefully consider whether this loan type is the right choice for you. If you can’t make your payments on a secured personal loan, you could end up losing the assets you provided for collateral. Not all applicants will qualify for larger loan amounts or most favorable loan terms. Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on the ability to meet underwriting requirements (including, but not limited to, a responsible credit history, sufficient income after monthly expenses, and availability of collateral) that will vary by lender.

Life Insurance:

Information about insurance is provided on Lantern by SoFi Life Insurance Agency, LLC. Click here to view our licenses.

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6 warning signs of a bad business deal


The success of your small business depends on making smart deals that expand available resources and enable continued growth. Just as important are the deals you walk away from — thus avoiding costly mistakes that waste time, consume energy, and threaten to derail your success.

Here are six tips for recognizing potential red flags the next time you enter into negotiations with a vendor, contractor, or other service provider:




It’s not uncommon for a business owner to ask vendors for a suggested “starting price” ahead of contract negotiations. But when you accept the price a vendor names without question, you immediately lose leverage in the upcoming conversation. Regardless of your planned budget, the vendor will likely decline to accept a lower quote when negotiations begin.

A better approach is to provide a range of what you’re willing and able to pay, so it’s clear that while there’s room for negotiations, you’ve set a ceiling on what you’ll pay.




You can’t expect to know more about a particular aspect of business operations than the vendor who hopes to provide that necessary resource. If, during negotiations, you feel you’re not fully grasping the technical details of the contract — for example, if you’re seeking to outsource payroll functions and you don’t understand the vendor’s proposed options for employee timekeeping — you may need to reach out to a knowledgeable third party who can review the vendor’s proposal with you and explain it in lay terms.

Before you meet with vendors, learn the jargon associated with their field so you know what they mean when they use it in discussions. This will help you frame the conversation in terms that make more sense to you.




Does the person you’re dealing with appear overly anxious to close the deal? Is a potential supplier exerting pressure to sign a contract on the spot, rather than allowing you time to review the proposed agreement before you sign? Let’s say the vendor wants you to sign a non-compete agreement as part of the contract, limiting your options even after the deal expires. Such unreasonable demands hint at more aggressive requests to come as part of any future relationship with this vendor.

Be prepared to walk out on negotiations if need be, in which case the supplier may be motivated to eliminate unreasonable requests to close the deal.




Always look closely at any discounts vendors propose that seem too good to be true. A discount is only as good as the overall price offered. For example, if an IT provider offers you a hefty discount on a comprehensive package of services, look closely at all the contract requirements and conditions. The discount could end up costing you more in the long run if that provider charges high prices for ancillary services, such as on-site support or additional software solutions.




Beware of contracts with questionable auto-renewal clauses or provisions with prenegotiated price hikes. An organization offering to outsource human resources and employee benefits, for example, may want to include an evergreen clause wherein its services are automatically renewed if you fail to formally cancel the agreement at a specified time. You could end up paying for a service your business no longer needs.

If provisions seem “iffy” to you, don’t hesitate to ask for what you want to achieve terms more beneficial to you. Identify specific elements in the contract that you know will improve your business operations and request they be included. Most suppliers will be reluctant to walk away, knowing you can negotiate with other potential providers. In any case, you’ll avoid spending money for something of no benefit to your business.




The more you know prior to negotiations, the stronger your position will be. Take time to research the other party and learn what you can about how representatives might behave during discussions. Talk to other businesses who have dealt with that supplier before. With this information in hand, you’ll be better equipped to propose compromises of greater advantage to you.

For more information, check out our comprehensive guide on starting a new business.

This article originally appeared on the Quickbooks Resource Center and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.




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