Starting up or expanding an existing business is never an easy task. There are a lot of things you need to consider: administrative issues, filing for the right licenses, finding people to work with, etc. However, most entrepreneurs tend to think about money: how much will they need to cover their expenses, where can they find that sort of money, and how do they go about finding it?
In Florida, starting a business can be done relatively quickly compared to some other places. But the administrative costs, office space expenses, and other additional business fees can get overwhelming just as quickly. That’s why many business owners are on the lookout for business funding opportunities that they won’t need to repay later on.
Taking small business grants is a terrific way to start a business or help it grow without needing to submerge yourself in a huge amount of debt. Fortunately, the state of Florida offers many diverse small business grants that are suitable for all sorts of companies. In Florida, the majority of the federal budget in government grants is used for the business sector. That’s more than $31 million in grants and additional local government sources of $22.6 million.
In this short article, we will be talking about some of the small business grants in Florida that you absolutely need to know about, as well as some tips on how to apply for them.
What Should You Pay Attention to When Looking for Small Business Grants in Florida?
When searching for small business grants in Florida, there are a few things you should be on the lookout for; in fact, there are two key areas.
The first one is that you should focus on Florida-specific grants that set aside money for small businesses. These grants can be state-wide, regional, or even city-specific – it doesn’t really matter.
Secondly, you should look for more widespread and national business grants. These may have nothing to do with Florida, but they’re still open to businesses that work in the state. In the list that we will show you below, you will be able to find some of the best state and national options. However, you can also look for city-specific ones in your area as well.
10 Best Small Business Grants in Florida
Before we start, as a short disclaimer, I’d just like to say that these are just some of the grant options you can take advantage of in Florida. But, there are many more local organizations as well as grants available to minorities, women, or veterans you can look for.
USDA Rural Business Development Grant
These grants are available for all businesses based in Florida with less than 50 employees and annual gross revenue of less than $1 million. Grants cannot exceed the annual funding amount for the USDA Rural Business Development program, which puts a limit on the grant amounts available. In order to apply for this grant, you need to reside in an eligible area, which is defined as rural towns or areas outside urbanized cities that have a population of 50,000 or more. Along with that, all kinds of public entities are eligible to qualify for the grant, including communities, state agencies, authorities, nonprofit corporations, institutions of higher education, rural cooperatives, and more.
Prospera Small Business Grants
This is a nonprofit company that specializes in economic development. It works with both newly created and growing Hispanic businesses in an effort to ensure they have all the tools they need for success. Their grants are typically rewarded based on need, industry, and future potential. Typically, they help startups and businesses by giving them professional business development services at no cost. Such services include the following:
- Legal assessment
- Accounting assessment
- Business plan
- QuickBooks dedicated consulting
- Marketing and sales plan
- Branding kit
Florida High Tech Corridor Grant
These grants come with university partnerships because they’re designed for research and development projects. They’re mainly given to tech-related companies and are available across 23 Florida counties. Typically, the amounts given vary from $10,000 to $150,000, depending on the opportunity. Applications are ongoing all year round, which is great as applicants don’t have to wait for a specific period of time to arrive before they can receive funding.
This small business grant is specifically aimed toward women entrepreneurs as it gives $10,000 awards to female business owners across North America. The tradition is such that there’s a winner every month, and at the end of the year, the 12 winners have a chance to win an additional year-end Amber Grant of $25,000, so this grant can give someone as much as $35,000
National Association of the Self-Employed Grant
This association offers small business owners across the US small grants of up to $1,000. Ever since the program started in 2006, they have awarded more than $1 million to small businesses and startups and have helped many companies flourish. The money given is typically used to fund marketing, advertising, hiring employees, expanding facilities, and other specific business needs. Applications for the grant happen a few times in the year; however, if you’re a veteran, annual, silver, or gold member of the NASE, you can apply at any point.
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
Every year this grant is awarded to small businesses across the country. This means that small businesses in Florida are welcome to apply. However, the grant’s money is reserved for small businesses and start-ups with innovative ideas that may make communities thrive. The cool thing is that this grant has no set amount, and several ones are typically awarded, each with different amounts. For example, in 2020, over 12 businesses received grants of more than $250,000 thanks to this particular program.
Small Business Research Grants
People often refer to this as the America’s Seed Fund. The SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) and SBTT (Small Business Technology Transfer) are two of the latest research grant programs that exist to help out small US-based businesses in the technology sector. The main idea is to fund a diverse portfolio of startups and small businesses across technology areas and markets to stimulate technological innovation, meet federal research and development needs, and increase commercialization to make an impact.
Florida Target Sector Trade Show
Enterprise Florida offers grants to companies that are interested in expanding through international trade shows. Here, both small and medium-sized businesses are welcome and eligible to apply. The grant can cover up to 75% of trade show booth costs at any event in which the EFI (Enterprise Florida) participates or is run by a partner organization such as Kallman Worldwide, Messe Frankfurt, or Reed Exhibitions. The maximum amount of money that you can receive through the grant is $7,500.
Orlando Business Assistance Program
The Orlando Business Assistance Program provides grants that encourage small businesses to expand or locate in Orlando. They give out funds that can help cover development fees, permits, or other costs related to relocation. The city’s Economic Development Department is the one that determines the eligibility of applicants, and the only catch is that businesses must pay half of the move-related costs, up to $20,000.
Miami’s Mom and Pop Small Business Grants
Miami’s Mom and Pop Small Business Grant Program awards grants to independent companies looking to make the next step. The funds can be used to cover various expenses, from supplies and equipment to insurance, marketing, or even minor renovations. In order to qualify, companies need to be located in specific districts and not be a part of a major national chain. Both home-based and commercial space businesses are eligible to apply, as long as they have the needed physical address.
Tips on How to Apply for Florida Business Grants
The process of applying to any sort of grant or government program can be confusing, long, and tedious. This applies even more when you’re eager to start a business and simply don’t have the patience to wait for months on end.
In order to help make the process smoother, we’ve gathered the below tips to make sure you do your best work when applying for a small business grant in Florida.
Plan a Time for Grant Applications
When starting a new business, having a schedule is key. Our suggestion is to have a plan for each week, month, and for the whole year so that you’re able to have some sort of predictability as to what will happen. In the beginning, it’s good to schedule one day per week where you look for and apply for grants your company is eligible for. A great tip is to keep a list of all available opportunities and to use these sessions as a way to do further research. It’s good to note that it’s vital to track what you’ve already applied for – you don’t want to do the same thing twice.
Consider the Application Fees
This is a very important factor when it comes to applying for any type of small business grant. When you’re looking for grants you’re eligible for, we suggest you make a special column where you type in the application fee for each grant. Later on, this will help you analyze whether the cost and the hours you will spend on the application are worth the reward you may receive at the end. Along with that, this will help you weed out any grants that are simply too expensive.
Keep Other Alternatives in Mind
Applying for a small business grant in Florida doesn’t mean that you will necessarily get the assistance you need. In case you don’t receive any funding from a grant, you need to know what your other options are. For instance, you can think of taking out a small business loan to help finance your business, or you can try raising money through other traditional methods (by looking for investors).
With that said, there are many small business grants that are dedicated to helping new or existing startups. By doing the work and researching properly, you can find the opportunities that best suit your company. While it’s true that getting a grant is challenging and gruesome, it’s not an episode of Mission Impossible.
Have a Mentor
Starting a business is a challenge, even with people with tons of experience in their industry. There are so many details you will need to consider and a ton of vital decisions you will need to make. Along with that, there are many administrative tasks, such as applying for grants, which can get a tad confusing if you’ve never done them before. Our advice is to find a mentor – someone who’s already been through the journey you’re currently on and can help guide you through the tedious and complicated tasks, as well as give you ideas when you run out of them.
As We Part Ways
Hopefully, after reading this article, you feel a lot more informed about the grant opportunities you can explore in Florida. One last piece of advice from us is to keep your head down and do proper research when deciding which grants to apply for. There are definitely scammers out there who are only looking to collect your fees, so don’t be quick to jump on the first thing you see and like.
If you want to learn more about marketing, starting a business, and doing so in Florida, head over to our blog, where you will find a ton of articles like this one – easy to read and helpful.