By Anne Toner, Business Development Executive, Mentor Works
Two of the most common challenges we encounter when helping businesses access Canadian small business grants and loans programs is timing and fit. Either they have just started an R&D project, or two months ago they bought a new piece of equipment that has enabled them to expand into new markets, or maybe they are attending a trade show in Los Angeles next week and would like to know what funding is available. If not planned in advance the timing might just not work, as funding typically requires pre-planning and -approval before the company can carry out their proposed project or hire.
Government Small Business Grants Must be “a Proper Fit” for Your Business
When it comes to finding a proper “fit” certain types of companies have a much greater chance of obtaining Canadian government funding simply because they “fit” the Government’s current priorities, have been incorporated long enough (ideally ≥2-3 years), and are big enough (ideally ≥10-15 employees) to take on the kind of projects funding sources are interested in.
3 Tips for Improving Your Government Small Business Grants & Loans Access
To circumvent these obstacles, there are three key things you need to know in order to best position your company to succeed in receiving business loans and/or grants from the Canadian government.
1. Planners Win: Plan in Advance to Successfully Access More Government Small Business Grants and Loans
The business owner, executive or manager with a strategy will always be better positioned to take advantage of Canadian business grants and loans opportunities. Why? Because they have identified, in advance, the company’s strategic priorities and put timelines to them, which makes it much easier to identify appropriate Canadian government funding mechanisms to support them. Equally important, it provides enough time to build a strong application and thus secure funding in plenty of time to implement.
Examples of How Planning Ahead Can Lead to Successful Access of Small Business Grants and Loans
Here are just a few examples of how planning ahead can land your firm additional Canadian government funding.
a.) Receive Up to $60K in Ontario Small Business Grants to Enhance Your International Marketing Efforts
The Marketing Manager or VP who maps out international tradeshows 6-12 months in advance could access up to $60,000 in marketing support including direct tradeshow costs, market research, follow on activities – while the person who makes an impromptu decision to exhibit pays full freight (and misses the early bird discount!).
b.) Receive $50-$75K to Improve Your Firm’s Productivity
The Operations Manager who sees bottlenecks in his future and starts investigating solutions early could access up to $50,000 to engage a lean consultant, or be eligible for up to $75,000 toward automation equipment.
Likewise, the Director of HR who monitors staffing requirements and plans hires months in advance could benefit from up to $20,000 per hire to offset the costs of onboarding new talent.
2. Canadian Government Funding is Cyclical
With a few rare exceptions, Canadian small business grants and loans programs are not retro-active and funding programs usually open at specific times of the year and for limited periods. For example, some funding sources, like IRAP, receive an allocation of funds at the beginning of the Federal fiscal year (April 1st) and consider project submissions until the annual allocation runs out or more money is allocated by the Federal government.
In fact, even business grants and loans programs that operate on a “continuous intake” basis only do so until the funds available have been exhausted. Knowing when and where the money flows is just as important as being a planner. Proper planning and knowledge of funding cycles will help your firm match the Canadian government funding program when the time is right and when funds are available.
3. In order to Receive Grants for Small Business “The Shoe Has to Fit”
When we meet with business owners to discuss Canadian Government Funding options, one of the questions we ask is: “Have you accessed government small business grants or loans programs in the past?” We’re shocked by the number of times the answer is “no,” since it always reflects missed opportunities. We are also disappointed to hear that many businesses have tried to access funding for legitimate business initiatives, but have seen their applications rejected with no clear explanation as to the reason.
SMEs’ Rate of Success Accessing Ontario Business Loans and Small Business Grants Canada Dismal –and Here is the Reason
In our experience, businesses who apply for government funding without expert assistance win approximately 40-50% of the time. That means they don’t win 50-60% of the time! What an unfortunate waste of business resources.
When we investigate further, we find one of the more common reasons for rejection is a poor fit with the funder’s objectives or eligibility criteria. All government funding programs are driven by the underlying goals of the governing body. Eligibility is based on whether your company and your project fit with those underlying goals. If they don’t, then it won’t matter how worthy your project is or how good an application you write.
The Bottom Line on Canadian Government Funding
If you bring a forward-thinking, strategic perspective to the table, Mentor Works will bring a thorough knowledge of the Canadian government grants and loans landscape, including when and where the money flows and which programs are the best fit for you.
Based on our 5-year track record of helping hundreds of clients access millions of dollars in grants and repayable contributions, our goal is to take the complexity and guesswork out of Canadian government funding, write winning applications for qualifying companies, and inject cash into Canadian small and medium-sized businesses to support their profitable growth.
Connect with Canadian Government Funding Experts
Learn more about business funding grants for small businesses and small business loans programs by keeping up with Mentor Works through your favorite social media networks, including: Tumblr, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Google+. You can also sign up for our Canadian government small business grants weekly e-newsletter, or by visiting our Free Canadian small business grants and loans workshop.
Learn More about How to Access Small Business Grants and Loans
If you are a small to medium-sized business owner or leader in Southern Ontario, visit a free Canadian government funding workshop to learn how to put government money to work for your business. Note: Priority will be given to business owners, consultants are asked to bring one of their clients in order to reserve a seat.