Using Grants to fund your business


A grant is a sum of money given to an individual or business for a specific project or purpose.

A grant usually covers only part of the total costs involved. However, as long as you keep to any conditions attached to the grant, you will not have to repay it or give up shares in your business.

Grants may be linked to business activity or a specific industry sector. Some grants are linked to geographic areas, eg those in need of economic regeneration.

The Process

Before you apply for a grant, you should ensure that you:

  • meet the conditions of the scheme
  • are ready to put up some of your own money
  • need the money for a specific purpose
  • don't start the project before you get an agreement in principle of funding
Making your proposal

When you have identified the right grant scheme for your needs, you will need to provide:
  • detailed project description
  • an explanation of the potential benefits of the project
  • a detailed work plan with full costings
  • details of your relevant experience and that of other key managers
  • completed application forms
You may also need to provide a business plan. There are a number of factors which could affect your eligibility for a grant:
  • the location of your business – some grants are given by local authorities or in areas of social deprivation or high unemployment
  • the size of your business – many grants are limited to businesses with fewer than 250 employees your industry sector
  • the purpose of the grant – grants are often awarded for a specific purpose, ie purchasing machinery, improving offices, increasing employment or developing markets

Pros and Cons


  • grants don’t have to be repaid and don’t count as debt
  • you don’t have to give up shares in your business

  • the application process can be time-consuming
  • there is a lot of competition
  • you may have to demonstrate progress of the project to the grant body
  • you may need to match funds, as grants do not usually cover the full cost of a project

Common Mistakes

Your application may be turned down if:

  • your area of research/work is not relevant to the body awarding the grant
  • you haven't explained how your research ideas will be put into action
  • your proposal or application makes statements that aren’t backed up with supporting facts
  • your research plan is unfocused and lacks clarity
  • you haven't communicated the impact of the work on the wider community and industry effectively
  • the information you have provided in the application is not up to date
  • you haven't clarified the importance of the funds to the project's success or failure
  • you can't prove that you have matched funds
  • you haven't proven your need for grant support
If your business is declined for a grant, you can ask for feedback on why the application was turned down to help with future applications.

If you can’t get a grant, it may be worth looking at other forms of finance.

Did you know...
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