We’ve all seen the screaming headlines on Internet search engine results pages or late night TV infomercials: Free Money From the Government! Or Government Has Millions of Dollars in Grants for Women-Owned Businesses!
And while these ads are tempting to believe, the reality is that although the government does offer some special assistance with loans and training to women who run their own businesses, they simply don’t provide grants for small businesses. Don’t be duped!
Here are three of the tricks that scam artists use to lure women into thinking they can get free money. Be on alert if you come across any of these.
Beware of Government Small Business Grant Scams
1. They Contact You
If you ever receive a phone call, email, or letter telling you that you’re eligible for a government grant, you can know right away that it’s a scam. According to Grants.gov, the website that manages all of the various grants that the government does give, they will never contact you. Ever.
2. They Ask You for Money
The people who run the government grant scams all have one thing in common – they’ll ask you for money in order to begin the application process for the grant. That’s another sure way to know that you’re being scammed. When applying for a real government grant, you’ll never be asked to give any money at all.
3. They Claim You’ve Won the Grant
Sometimes people receive a phone call notifying them that they’ve been awarded a grant. All they have to do to claim it is to pay a small processing fee. This is a scam – the government will never award a grant to someone who hasn’t gone through the rigorous application process, and they’ll never charge a processing fee when a grant is in fact awarded.
Real Facts on Government Business Grants
In reality, the only individual business grants that the government offers are for non-profit organizations and businesses that can work toward the goal of a particular grant. For instance, if your business is a leader in the technology field and can provide data and research in a specific area, the government may give you a grant to carry out that specific research.
In addition to having to satisfy a grant’s goal via research, your company will have to meet very stringent size and income requirements. According to Grants.gov, those size and income requirements are:
- 500 employees for most manufacturing and mining industries
- 100 employees for all wholesale trade industries
- $6 million in income for most retail and service industries
- $28.5 million for most general & heavy construction industries
- $12 million for all special trade contractors
- $0.75 million for most agricultural industries
There are some private organizations that do offer grant opportunities for women, but they can be very difficult to obtain. Most of the grants are designed for women who are economically disadvantaged or live in an area that might make it difficult for a woman to get ahead.
Other Programs for Women Business Owners
But the government hasn’t totally left women in business out to dry. They do offer some great programs that will help with the startup financing and managing of your business.
- The SBA’s Women Centers. These centers offer training, counseling, and other services to women who are in business for themselves. Find one in your local area.
- SBA start-up loans for small businesses. Find out how to apply for a small business loan backed by the SBA. You’ll find all of the information that you’ll need to put together a proposal for one of the SBA’s approved lenders.
While obtaining a government grant for your business is highly unlikely, there are other small business financing options and small business growth options at your disposal. Women-owned businesses make up the largest-growing type of small business operations in the U.S., and those that succeed have an unfaltering commitment to making it work – with or without a grant to get started.
Are you a woman running a small business? What are some of the ways you’ve raised capital to get started?
(photo credit: Shutterstock)