As the economy is left in a state of flux from the wake of COVID-19, many businesses will be relying on Government Grants to help see them through this pandemic. However, with so many grants being offered and each with numerous applicants, how can you make sure that you’re applying for the best one and that you get it?
Clusterian, Ben Cusack of Bulletpoint, is a specialist in Government Grants and has been helping small businesses secure them for years. We asked him what advice he would give to those seeking government aid and he offered up the following 5 tips!
1. GET YOUR KEY INFORMATION TOGETHER
Most grants only have a four to six-week application window, meaning a lot of the time you’ll only find out about a grant within a few weeks before its deadline hits. This coupled with the fact that it’ll take up to 40 hours to write a great application, it’s good practice to have your key information already written up. Which information is that? Well Ben recommends having the following ready:
• COMPANY HISTORY – Where did the business start and what have been some major milestones along the way?
• PRODUCTS/CUSTOMERS – What do you sell and who buys from you?
• 3 YEAR FINANCIAL SUMMARY – Is the business growing and profitable?
• KEY STAFF BIO – Who are the main drivers of the business success?
• TRACK RECORD – Highlight some previous successful projects.
• PROJECT BUDGET – Put together a summary of key project costs
2. ELIGIBLE AND COMPETITIVE
Perhaps the biggest mistake people will make, is going for a grant simply because they are eligible. When looking at the guidelines of a grant, many are written in a way that’ll portray most companies as worthy contenders. What you won’t be told is that only a few of those will actually be competitive. This can lead to businesses wasting time applying for grants that they were never going to get in the first place.
With the virus leaving many in dire straits and reaching for anything resembling a lifeline, it’s perhaps more important than ever to properly consider what you are applying for. Don’t try and make your company fit the criteria, as you’ll always lose to the ones that actually do. Take your time to research which grant will not only help you survive, but thrive!
Key thing to focus on is this criteria “able to demonstrate how the grant will help support your business or non-profit organisation in response to the impact of COVID-19.”
Most people read it
“I have been impacted by Covid-19”
“this grant will help me better respond to Covid-19”
3. LOOK LIKE YOU DON’T NEED A GRANT
Despite the perception that most Government Grants are aimed towards start-ups, many successful applications belong to companies that have already established themselves with strong revenue, net profit, employed staff and existing customers. Meaning, like most things in life, the most deserving will not be the most successful. You need to be seen as a low risk investment!
We’ve all seen shows like Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank. The entrepreneurs that are credible and viable (they know how to run a business and have proven they can) are the ones who walk away with the investments they hoped for!
4. LESS IS MORE
When applying for a grant, be sure to be succinct and clear. The reader shouldn’t have to slog through boundless paragraphs to understand your business and why you are a good candidate for a grant, it should be self-evident.
To quote Ben, “The aim is convey the main points to a grant assessor within a few seconds. As they read further they will know what to expect and look for supporting evidence.”
He recommends considering the following steps:
• LOW WORD COUNT – Minimize the amount of text when describing the main points of your grant application
• LOTS OF HEADINGS – Allow the reader to be able to skim the page to get the main points within a few seconds
• LOTS OF DOT POINTS – Keep each statement brief and follow up with a bit more detail
• INCLUDE IMAGES – Where possible, include some photos or graphs to break up the text
• SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS – You can always put additional information in an attachment
Ben offers up the following examples to help better understand this:
Here is a quick example of a successful grant project summary (not written by me).
“There are 20 million showers taken each day in Australia alone. If every shower had our technology fitted we would save in excess of 200 ML of fresh drinking water per day. This saving also eliminates the need to treat the same volume as grey water and is additional to any savings made by flow restricting showerheads.” (57 words)
Do you have any idea what the product does? What does it look like? What is the benefit to the individual?
It was good enough to get a grant, but this is how I would convey it better.
– Our technology diverts cold water at the start of a shower to a storage tank.
– It saves 20L of water per shower.
– Each unit costs $100, is easily fitted and would save households $50 per year (36 words)
Is it better?
I like to think it tells the reader more about what the product is and what is does.
And for the keen eyed mathematicians,
• I did it in 37% less words
• And I used dot points!
And I just started that last sentence with a conjunction. No wonder my English teacher didn’t like me!”
5. MORE IS MORE
Finally, once all the main grant sections are complete, assessors will be evaluating additional information that you provide. Here’s where you can throw brevity out the window! They’ll be looking for the following:
• FINANCIAL MODELS
• IMPLEMENTATION PLANS
• PROJECT GOVERNANCE
• RISK ASSESSMENTS
• LETTERS OF SUPPORT
Although these have less sway in terms of assessment, they are judged on robustness. Would you rather see a Risk Management Plan that is only a single line, or one that is five pages long and details methodology and assessment matrix with sections on financial risk, timing risk, personal risk etc.?
Thanks so much to Ben and Bulletpoint for sharing their insight, and if you would interested in further tips to writing grant applications, than Ben has offered this link to a book he wrote last year:
We also recommend checking out Bulletpoint’s website for more articles and information on what Grants are on offer and finding the best one to suit your business!
Stay safe and well!