I know many women who constantly fantasize of becoming their own boss. Many times, those fantasies are triggered by the endless hours spent tolerating a sociopath leader, attending those useless meetings where everyone is competing to be the boss’s pet for the day or simply realizing that they have a great idea for a business.
It’s quite common to become paralyzed when thinking about the funding source for that new business venture. However, I learned that the lack of money is not the problem since it’s out there –in the form of grants–waiting to be found. It’s just a matter of doing some research, lots of networking, asking the right questions and going where the money is. When I decided to establish my own blog and consulting firm, I was not aware of all the entities out there whose mission is to help women entrepreneurs.
I was surprised with all the resources these organizations offer. Many of them subcontract subject matter experts to provide women entrepreneurs with services such as:
- Legal structure assessment
- Business plan development
- Loan application preparation
- Web site creation
- Marketing plan
- Accounting assessment
- QuickBooks training
- Corporate branding
The federal government offers some grants for small-business owners, but they’re designated for very specific purposes, such as certain research and development projects or for businesses in rural areas. Government grants can’t be used to cover startup costs or day-to-day expenses, and most aren’t earmarked specifically for women:
- InnovateHER Challenge
- Small Business (SBA) Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs
Because federal small-business grants are limited in number and often very competitive, you may have better luck looking for grants at the state and municipal levels. You’ll have to do your own research to pinpoint specific grant programs in your area, but here are some places to look:
- Women’s Business Centers (SBA sponsors about 100 Women’s Business Centers nationwide)
- Economic development agencies
Some private organizations have national grant programs for women:
If you are a Hispanic like me, there are small-business grants for minorities:
- Minority Business Development Agency
- National Minority Supplier Development Council
- Operation HOPE Small-Business Empowerment Programs
As you can see, the possibilities are many. By no means I’m suggesting that you give your sociopath boss your two-weeks notice tomorrow. I’m simply suggesting that if you are ready, there are organizations that are willing to help. Good luck!