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Grants for Small Business Startups: A Complete Guide


Starting a new business is an exciting and challenging venture. However, funding can be a major obstacle for small business startups, especially in their early stages. That’s where grants for small business startups come into play. Unlike loans, grants for small businesses do not have to be repaid as long as the recipients follow specific guidelines related to the grant’s objectives. When trying to find out how to raise money for a business, utilizing grants can be a great place to start. 


A grant is a financial award given by federal, state, or local governments or private organizations to individuals or organizations to help them achieve specific objectives. Grants are typically awarded based on merit and eligibility criteria that applicants must meet. Grants for small business startups are designed specifically to provide funding and support to entrepreneurs looking to start new businesses.

Grants for Small Business Startups


Applying for a grant can be a complex process that requires careful planning and preparation. The first step is identifying grants that align with your business goals and eligibility criteria.

Once you’ve identified potential grants, thoroughly researching each one will help you understand what information you need to include in your application. The application process typically includes submitting detailed information about your business plan, financial statements, market analysis, competitive landscape assessment, along with any other information required by the grant.

After submitting your application, the review process can take several weeks or even months, depending on the grant’s size and complexity. If successful, you will receive notification of your award and any requirements you need to fulfill to receive funding.

Grants for small business startups can be a critical source of funding and support for entrepreneurs looking to start a new business. As we move forward in our increasingly entrepreneurial society, financial assistance like this will only become more important for ensuring everyone has an equal shot at success.


Grants for small business startups come in many forms and can be sourced from many places. It’s important to exhaust all your resources when looking to acquire funding from grants, and sometimes the process can seem a bit daunting. Hustler’s Library has put together a list of some of the various types of grants to research. 

Federal Grants:

One of the most widely known sources of grants for small business startups is the United States federal government. There are several agencies that offer grants to help small businesses get off the ground, including the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Department of Energy (DOE). These grants can be highly competitive, but they can also provide a significant amount of funding for research and development.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program:

The SBIR program is a federal grant program that is specifically designed to support small businesses that are engaged in research and development. The program provides funding to companies that are working on innovative new technologies or products, with an emphasis on those that have potential applications in fields such as healthcare, defense, and energy. The SBIR program is open to companies that have fewer than 500 employees and meet certain other eligibility requirements.

Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program:

The STTR program is similar to the SBIR program but has a slightly different focus. While both programs provide funding for research and development, the STTR program emphasizes collaboration between small businesses and universities or non-profit research institutions. In order to be eligible for an STTR grant, a company must partner with a research institution in order to conduct scientific or technical research that has potential commercial applications.

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program:

The CDBG program is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and provides funding to local governments and community organizations for a wide range of projects related to economic development and community revitalization. Among other things, CDBG funds can be used to support small business startups through loans or grants.

State-Specific Grant Programs:

In addition to federal grant programs, many states offer their own grant programs designed to support small business startups. These programs vary widely in terms of eligibility requirements, funding amounts, and application processes. Some examples of state-specific grant programs include the Indiana Small Business Development Center’s Innovate Indiana Fund, the California Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, and the Pennsylvania First Program.

Economic Development Administration (EDA) Grant Programs:

The EDA is an agency within the Department of Commerce that is focused on promoting economic development in communities across the United States. The agency offers several different grant programs designed to support small businesses and entrepreneurs. These grants can be used for a wide range of purposes, including infrastructure improvements, workforce development initiatives, and business incubation programs.


Every party that offers grants to small businesses has their own unique set of requirements in order to be considered for funding. The Hustler’s Library team has put together some of the common factors considered when attempting to receive funding through grants. 

Business Structure and Industry Focus

When it comes to small business startup grants, eligibility criteria can vary widely depending on the funding source. However, one common factor among many grant programs is the emphasis on supporting innovative and high-potential ventures that have a clear market need or social impact.

Businesses that are structured as sole proprietorships or partnerships may face additional hurdles to qualify for funding compared to those organized as Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) or corporations. Industry focus is another consideration when seeking small business startup grants.

Many grant programs target specific sectors such as healthcare, energy, agriculture, and technology. In some cases, these programs may require businesses to have a certain level of technical expertise or experience in the industry they are serving.

Geographic Location and Demographics

Geographic location can also be a key factor in determining eligibility for small business startup grants. Some grant programs prioritize businesses located in underserved or economically disadvantaged areas, while others may restrict funding to businesses based within specific regions or states.

Demographics can also play a role in eligibility criteria for some grant programs. For example, minority-owned businesses or those led by women entrepreneurs may have access to specialized funding opportunities designed to address participation gaps in these populations.

Financial Need and Viability

Small business startup grants often require applicants to demonstrate financial need and viability through a comprehensive application process that includes detailed financial statements and projections. Other factors that may be evaluated include the potential impact of the grant funds on job creation, economic development goals of the community, and overall feasibility of the proposed venture.

In addition to financial viability, many grant programs also place emphasis on the strength of an applicant’s team, board composition and governance structure as key indicators of long-term success potential. Ultimately, meeting eligibility criteria for small business startup grants requires careful consideration of the unique requirements and priorities of each specific program, as well as a thorough understanding of your business goals and funding needs.

Researching Available Grants and Eligibility Criteria

Before submitting a grant application for your small business startup, you need to research the available grants and identify the ones that best match your business needs and eligibility criteria. Start by checking out federal grant programs like Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

Keep in mind that each program has its specific requirements, including the industry sector, company size, stage of development, and research topic. Next, check out state-specific grant programs from state economic development agencies.

To determine your eligibility for these grants, you need to provide demographic information about your business, such as location and ownership structure. Additionally, some states provide tax credits or incentives for small businesses that meet specific criteria.


Starting a new business is an exciting and challenging venture. However, funding can be a major obstacle for small business startups, especially in their early stages.

That’s where grants for small business startups come into play. Unlike loans, grants for small businesses do not have to be repaid as long as the recipients follow specific guidelines related to the grant’s objectives. When trying to find out how to raise money for a business, utilizing grants can be a great place to start. 

Be Prepared with a Strong Application Package

One of the most critical tips for increasing your chances of getting a small business startup grant is to create an impressive application package. A well-prepared application package should include an executive summary, business plan, financial statements and projections, market analysis and competitive landscape assessment.

You should ensure that your application is clear, concise, and easy to understand. If possible, it is best to have someone else review the application package before submission.

It is also important to tailor your application package to fit the specific requirements of each grant program you are applying for. This means researching the grant program thoroughly and understanding what they are looking for in an applicant.

Make sure that you address each point in the application guidelines. This will increase your chances of being selected for funding.

Build Relationships with Key Stakeholders

Building relationships with key stakeholders can be instrumental in securing grants for small business startups. One way to do this is by networking with people who have experience with grant writing or who have worked on similar projects.

You can attend relevant conferences or workshops where you can meet individuals who can become part of your network. Another strategy could be seeking out mentors or advisors in the field who can provide guidance on how to approach funding opportunities and how best to present your product/service or organization in your pitch deck.

In addition, it might be beneficial if you research potential investors before approaching them. Consider what would make them interested in supporting small businesses like yours; find out what other projects they’ve supported recently; think about how you could establish a relationship that benefits both parties involved – all these factors will help increase your chances of success.

Attend Workshops, Seminars or Conferences on Grant Writing

Attending workshops, seminars or conferences on grant writing can be an excellent way to learn more about the process involved and increase your chances of success. These events may be hosted by government agencies, non-profit organizations, or private companies.

They often bring together experts in the field who can provide valuable insights and tips on how to write effective grant applications. In these workshops, you’ll get a chance to ask questions and gain clarity on some of the requirements you might otherwise overlook.

You’ll also have ample opportunity to network with other participants and expand your knowledge base. Additionally, many workshops will provide templates for everything from executive summaries to budgets that can help guide your application process.

Securing grants for small business startups requires diligence and a lot of hard work. A well-prepared application package, building relationships with key stakeholders and attending workshops or conferences on grant writing are all strategies that can help increase your chances of receiving funding for your business startup.


Small business grants are non-repayable funds provided to small businesses, often by government departments, corporations, foundations, or trusts. Unlike loans, these grants don’t need to be repaid, making them a valuable funding source for startups and small businesses.

Numerous resources exist to help small businesses find grants, including the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), state development agencies, and private foundations. Online grant databases can also be a helpful tool for discovering available small business grants.

Eligibility for small business grants varies based on the grant provider. Generally, small businesses must meet certain criteria related to size, industry, location, and the owner’s demographics. Always check the grant’s specific eligibility requirements.

Small business grants are typically used for business expenses such as startup costs, equipment, inventory, and growth initiatives. Some grants may have restrictions on use, so it’s essential to understand the grant’s terms and conditions.

The application process varies depending on the grant provider but often involves submitting a detailed business plan, financial statements, and a thorough explanation of how the grant funds will be used. Be prepared to spend some time on the application as they can be quite detailed.

Small business grants provide businesses with capital that doesn’t need to be repaid, allowing them to invest in growth opportunities without increasing debt. This can be particularly beneficial for startups or businesses in the growth stage.

Small business grants can be quite competitive due to the high number of businesses seeking free funding. To increase your chances of securing a grant, make sure your application is thorough, accurate, and compelling.

With many grants being so competitive, sometimes funding for certain groups can fall through the cracks. To help alleviate this, there are a wide range of grants designed specifically to assist minority business owners

Many of our veterans have missed out on key economic opportunities due to them serving our country. To help alleviate this, there are a wide range of grants designed specifically to help veteran business owners

Overall, grants are a great source of funding for any small business that is willing to jump through the hoops required to get them. They are often overlooked and can be a game changer for any entrepreneur who doesn’t mind a bit of paperwork. With this being said, grants are just one of many that should be researched when trying to find out how to find funding for a small business. Small business owners may need to look into loans, business credit or other funding sources to get the capital they need to succeed. 

Make sure to check Hustler’s Library daily for more great entrepreneur news, resources and tools.



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