Bernadeen McLeod recently joined Biz Radio Canada host, Dave Wojcik, to explain how accessing small business grants and loans in Canada can be simple, enjoyable, and even a therapeutic process for small and medium-sized business owners and leaders undertake if they have the appropriate resources and guidance.
Implementing a Small Business Grants and Loans Plan is Crucial to Success
In order to have success in the arena of Canadian government funding through access to Ontario grants for small business and small business loans, companies need to be proactive, as is the case with many facets of management practices.
“The application process”, says Bernadeen, “is not easy but can be simplified by planning ahead and by linking strategic goals to the right small business grants and loans programs offered through provincial and federal governments.”
To get on the right track and make the most of the loans and grants for small businesses available, leaders need to concentrate on a few vital steps.
Step 1- Strategic Needs Analysis for Small Business Grants & Loans
Bernadeen McLeod stresses the importance of not falling into the trap of applying for a small business grant or loan program on the basis of simply trying to find free money. “Small business grants and business loans programs are very project-specific,” states the Canadian government funding expert. Hence, she recommends as a first step to sit down with one’s management team and establish 3-7 projects that will directly support the growth of the company and strengthen its competitive advantage.
Step 2 – Select Small Business Grants and Loans Specific to Your Company’s Needs
Finding and selecting the most suitable small business grants and business loans programs can be difficult on two fronts. “First off,” states Bernadeen, “there are a multitude of different programs and they all differ in terms of their focus, eligibility criteria, the application process, and when they are available.” For small and medium-sized businesses it is near impossible to allocate the internal resources to stay on top of all of the program releases and updates and for this reason several business consulting firms have popped up that offer books or online databases or guides to Canadian government funding programs. Bernadeen McLeod is the President and Owner of Mentor Works Ltds., a consulting firm that focuses solely on funding opportunities for Canadian businesses. Mentor Works offers a database of the most popular small business grants and loans programs to the public free of charge. One of the perks of working with a Canadian government funding expert as strategic partner is the ability to stay on top of fund release dates, new funding opportunities, and other critical updates.
Step 3 – Assign Your Business’ Loan or Grant Application to Someone Who Will Drive the Process
“Once we have outlined the programs that match the strategic needs of our clients they are offered the opportunity to either engage our services, or to attempt the application process on their own,” says Bernadeen. “Unfortunately, too many of those who have chosen this route come back to us months later having dropped the application half-way through because they either hit a sticking point or became distracted with the day to day responsibilities of their work and as a result missed their opportunity to apply.” Aside from the obvious benefit of knowledge and expertise of the grant application process and the issuing organization’s expectations, strategic partners will drive the application process on track and assure that it is submitted within the programs timeline.
Step 4 – Become Self-Sufficient in Small Business Grants and Loans Proposal Writing
Working with a strategic partner throughout the business grant application process is not only likely to lead to a higher success rate but will also set a precedent for future applications to emulate in the future.
“Within a business’ government funding plan we typically choose 3-4 regular programs that have their funding replenished on an annual basis for 4 years or more. That way, once they learn how to complete one such small business grant application they have the option to submit on their own with the template created during their engagement with us,” states Bernadeen McLeod.
Bernadeen went on to explain that for other firms, they will continue to rely on the services of their strategic partner as the resources demanded to complete the applications make out-sourcing of the task a more viable option.
Step 5 – Reap the Benefits of Successful Small Business Grants and Loans Applications
Without a doubt the most enjoyable part of the process comes once the loan or grant application has been received and approved. Mentor Works’ also utilizes Canadian government funding programs when it can, and Bernadeen McLeod recounts how she felt when she received her first cheque in the mail.
“It’s not very hard to imagine as a business owner when you receive your first cheque for ten, fifteen or three hundred thousand dollars from the government in the mail. It’s a great feeling, and it shouldn’t evoke any kind of guilt from recipients. We all pay corporate taxes; and most government funding programs aim to help businesses grow, become more competitive, and produce jobs. One’s receipt of Canadian government funding attests to the fact that your business is contributing to the expansion of our nation’s economy.” –Bernadeen, McLeod
Aside from the elation felt by business owners when they receive that first cheque the process has been noted by many as positive experience in a more fundamental way: the process requires being proactive, and when a company receives between 15 to 75% of project expenses from government sources a higher level of accountability is also instilled within those responsible for carrying out the project.
Connect with Mentor Works Small Business Grants and Loans Experts
We offer several ways for small and medium-sized business owners and leaders to stay up to date on news and happenings in the world of Canadian government funding. Sign up for our Canadian government funding e-newsletter, follow us on your favorite social media networks (LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and Facebook), or visit us at one of our free Canadian government funding workshops.