In business, few things are ever 100% certain. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing first hand just how quickly things can change and how important it is to have financial reserves and/or multiple streams of income. Currently, there are a lot of opportunities popping up, specifically, for businesses impacted by the Coronavirus, but whether you are applying for money just for now or applications like these are part of your regular course of business, here are some tips to keep in mind
1. Be organized
Pick a day on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis to spend a couple of hours getting organized. Create a routine of regularly searching and applying for new opportunities, both big and small. Many funding applications ask for the same information and documentation, such as EIN number, incorporation year, business license, tax information, company history, and founder biographies; keeping these documents in a central location will save you the trouble of having to search for them when asked. Being organized will also help you to stay on top of submission deadlines so you do not miss out on any opportunities.
2. Be prepared
Copy the application questions into a separate document so that you can write and edit your answers. For video submissions, write out what you want to say ahead of time and practice your delivery before you record it. Plan photoshoots throughout the year so that you have a variety of photos that showcase the different aspects of your business or personality. Create a pitch deck (presentation or infographic) with information about your team, the problem your business solves, your target market, and your budget that can be easily modified to fit application specifications. Submit the application a day or two before the deadline so that you have time to work through any technical difficulties with minimal stress.
3. Be thorough
Read through the organization’s website, the application, the eligibility requirements, AND the frequently asked questions before you decide to apply. Make sure that you know the type of funding being offered, the requirements for reporting and repayment, and that you actually meet all of the eligibility requirements before submitting an application. Read your answers out loud, and make sure you are answering all parts of the questions asked. Have someone else look over your application to catch anything you might have missed.
4. Be accurate
Know your numbers! Most applications, whether for loans or grants, will ask for financial information or documentation. Be sure to accurately report revenue, profits, losses, and projections and be able to provide justification for each. In narrative responses, honestly state your need and your plans for the money. Be open about the challenges you have faced and how you have, or how you are working, to overcome them and prevent them from happening again.
5. Be yourself
More and more, applications are asking for videos and narratives about small business owners, their stories, and why they are applying. They want to know YOU, so put yourself out there. This is your time to shine! Authentically share the pieces of your story that are important to your business. Talk about what makes you different from others in your industry. Pull at the heartstrings. Set yourself apart.