If you're looking for a boost for your business, here's some good news: you may be eligible for a special selection of grants tailored to empower female entrepreneurs. These grants are highly competitive and require you to submit an application, but if you aspire to be the next leader among women in business, they offer a unique opportunity to jump-start your next venture.
Grants are funding opportunities you earn based on the merit of your business venture and the challenges you'll need to overcome to make your business successful. Almost every grant program seeks businesses that will significantly contribute to social or environmental causes. If you don't think your business will fit that criteria, you might be a better candidate for a private loan—this way, your business still gets the funding it needs.
Women are a minority among entrepreneurs, and these grants seek to level the playing field and inspire the next generation of leaders. Your business could change the world—why not let it flourish with federal, state, or private grant opportunities?
1. Federal Grant Programs
The federal government offers a host of grant opportunities for non-profits, and these grants usually come in the form of funding for state programs and initiatives. Grants.gov is a broad web portal that connects business leaders to seed funding opportunities, and there's a section dedicated specifically to small-business grants. The database is extensive, but searching for specific keywords can help you find an opportunity that suits your business venture perfectly, increasing your application's chances of success.
2. Women's Business Centers (WBCs)
The Small Business Administration (SBA) sponsors over 100 women's business centers across the US. These educational organizations are tailored specifically to the challenges women entrepreneurs face. Many of these grants prioritize women who are economically or socially disadvantaged, helping them overcome any obstacle to their businesses' success. Even when grant funding is unavailable, these centers are amazing resources for training and counseling to bring ideas to life.
3. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)
Small Business Development Centers are much more common than WBCs; almost all states have several SBDC offices. These offices can be equally helpful in tracking down grant programs in your area and are a gold mine of useful information, expertise, and local knowledge. You can tap into this network to give your small business a big advantage, even if you don't receive funding directly.
4. Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR)
If your business plan is to innovate in your field, you could seek seed funding from the SBIR/STTR network. This program supports technological and scientific innovation that spurs the American economy.
And it explicitly seeks to sponsor female entrepreneurship—that ideal is right in the organization's mission statement. If your business venture is based in science, research, or technology, these grants are a perfect match.
5. InnovateHER Challenge 2017
The SBA-backed InnovateHER challenge is entering its third year and offers over $70,000 in funding for products and services that empower women and families everywhere. This grant is a true competition, and finalists for 2017 have already been chosen. You can put your business idea on the table for this challenge by applying to a host organization in your local area. Host organizations submit their nominees to the national board for review, and the competition is a great way to network with organizations that put women entrepreneurs first.
6. Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant
Many private businesses give back to their community in the form of grants and seed funding. As one of the premier privately funded business grants in America that specifically seeks to empower women, the Eileen Fisher grant program is highly competitive, but businesses with the right combination of female leadership and a focus on environmental and social change can receive an award of $100,000.
7. Amber Grants for Women
For smaller businesses and first-time ventures, Amber Grants for Women offers a monthly award designed to bring new ideas to life. Created to honor a young entrepreneur who passed away in 1998, this long-standing program has provided thousands of dollars in funding to women all over the United States. The program has backed everything from outdoor paddle board fitness classes to STEM curriculum for homeschooling. If your idea trends towards outside-the-box thinking, this is the grant for you.
What other opportunities have you found in your local network? Share in the comments below.
Personally, I am over the top excited that we are on the cusp of turning the page on not only a new year but also on a new 10-year window of opportunities and possibilities!
You may be thinking, whoa…I am just embracing the fall season…yikes… it is tough to think about a new decade!
Yet it is this groundwork, this forward thought that you put in place TODAY that will propel you and lead you into greatness in 2020 and beyond. Designing a new decade rests in your ability to vision, in your willingness to be curious, in your awareness of where you are now and what you most want to curate. Essentially, curating what's next is about tapping into today with confidence, conviction, and decision. Leading YOU starts now. This is your new next. It is your choice.
Sometimes to get to that 'next', you need to take a step back to reflect. Please pardon my asking you to spend time in yesterday. Those who know me personally, know that I created and continue to grow my business based on enabling the present moment as a springboard for living your legacy. So, indulge me here! True, I am asking you to peek into the past, yet it is only in order for you to bring the essence of that past forward into this moment called NOW.
One of the best ways to tap into what's next is to clarify what drives you. To design a new decade, ask yourself this question about the past ten years:
What worked? What were my successes?
Make a list of your achievements big and small. Don't type them, but rather use ink and paper and sit with and savor them. Move your thoughts and your successes from your head, to your heart, to your pen, to the paper. Remember that on the flip side of goals not attained and New Year's resolutions abandoned, there was more than likely some traction and action that moved you forward, even if the end result was not what you expected. Once you have a full list of a decade's worth of personal and professional accomplishments, think about how this makes you feel. Do you remember celebrating all of them? My guess is no. So, celebrate them now. Give them new life by validating them. Circle the successes that resonate with you most right now. Where can you lean into those accomplishments as you power into the decade ahead?
Now comes a tougher question, one that I used myself in my own mid-life reinvention and a question I adore because in a moment's time it provides you with a quick reconnect to your unique inner voice.
If it were 10 years ago and nothing were standing in your way, no fear or excuses to contend with…what would you do?
Don't overthink it. The brilliance of this question is that it refocuses purpose. Whatever first came to mind when you answered this for yourself is at its core a powerful insight into defining and redefining the FUTURE decade. Bring your answer into the light of today and what small piece of it is actionable NOW? Where is this resonating and aligning with a 2019 version of yourself?
Then, based on your success list and your answer to the above question, what is your 2020 vision for your business and for the business of YOU?
Designing a new decade begins as a collection of 3,650 opportunities. 3,650 blank slates of new days ahead in which to pivot and propel yourself forward. Every single one of those days is a window into your legacy. An invitation to be, create, explore, and chip away at this thing we call life. One 24-hour segment at a time.
While you have a decade ahead to work on design improvements, you have the ability to begin manifesting this project of YOU Version 2020 right NOW. Based on exploring the exercises in this post, begin executing your vision. Ask questions. Be present. Let go of 2019 and the past 10 years so that you can embrace the next 10. Position acceptance and self-trust at the forefront of how you lead you. One choice at a time.
Don't get bogged down in the concept of the next 10 years. Instead position clarity and intention into each new day, starting today. Then chase every one of those intentions with an in-the-moment commitment and solution toward living a legendary life!