Frequently Asked Questions
What types of grants are available for my business/organization?
Federal, state, foundation, private and corporate grants are available. The question you may want to ask is what grants does my business/ organization qualify for? At Write Choice Consulting Firm we meet with you to assess the financial need and deficits of your business. Schedule a Free Consultation Today! Let us help you get on the path to financial stability. Learn More...
How much time does it take to prepare a grant proposal?
The amount of time and work it takes to prepare a grant application is a direct function of the number of people on your project team. Most grants have four to six weeks between the time the application is released and when the proposal is due. For larger, more complex grant proposals, this may not be enough time. Planning well in advance of the application release date can give you a head start and alleviate some of the pressure. Don't have a grant writing team? Need help preparing your proposal? Let us help you make this a stress free journey. Learn More...
What are the key components of a grant proposal?
Competitive grants require a specific type of application. Although state and federal agencies and especially foundations have different requirements, the basic parts of a grant application remain the same. Need assistance in grant writing and developing a successful proposal? Learn More... Basic grant components are:
- Summary or Abstract is the most important part of your proposal because it is the first impression you make on the reviewer.
- Needs Statement/ Statement of Significance is the reason for your project and makes the argument for why the grant should be funded. Relevant data and research, such as surveys, preliminary studies, a literature review, and identified successful models of previous studies will all substantiate the needs of the targeted population or for your research project.
- Goals and Objectives are your plan of operation, and must be aligned with the project’s identified needs. A goal will be the end result of your project or research, and the objectives will prove how the goal will be met in measurable and quantifiable terms.
- Activities explain how each objective will unfold to meet the goal.
- Timelines describe the project activities in terms of deadlines. These may include your plan of operation, evaluation, and budget.
- Evaluation Plan is one of the most critical components for a project grant application, especially with the current heightened level of accountability. You must detail a comprehensive evaluation plan that incrementally tracks the effectiveness of your proposed objectives.
- Outcomes are critical in all evidence-based grant proposals. Outlining the short-, mid-, and long-term outcomes with specific benchmarks for success is vital for the donor’s understanding of the ultimate purpose for the funding. A helpful tool in developing and demonstrating the process indicators for successful outcomes of your proposal is the logic model.
- Budgets estimate as accurately as possible what the cost of each human resources activity will be in personnel and non-personnel costs. Be certain to include a cost for each activity mentioned in your narrative, since it aligns directly with your budget.
Why Do I Need a Business Plan?
A business plan is not just required to secure funding at the start-up phase, but is a vital aid to help you manage your business more effectively. By committing your thoughts to paper, you can understand your business better and also chart specific courses of action that need to be taken to improve your business. A plan can detail alternative future scenarios and set specific objectives and goals along with the resources required to achieve these goals. By understanding your business and the market a little better and planning how best to operate within this environment, you will be well placed to ensure your long-term success. Need help with creating and writing your business plan? Learn More...
Why is Marketing Important?
For both Profit and Non-profit; the heart of your business success lies in its marketing. Most aspects of your business depend on successful marketing. The overall marketing umbrella covers advertising, public relations, promotions and sales. Marketing is a process by which a product or service is introduced and promoted to potential customers. Without marketing, your business may offer the best products or services in your industry, but none of your potential customers would know about it. Without marketing, sales may crash and companies may have to close. Need help with creating and developing your marketing plan? Learn More...
Why Do Executives Need Additional Training?
Executive training is needed for improving on how you build authentic business relationships, network, communicate and your overall Executive Presence can help you to make more effective and valuable connections, which in turn can facilitate more client deals and partnerships for your company. Who you are and how successful you are as a professional directly influences the success of your company as well.
Executive Training will also refine your leadership skills, which in turn will help you to manage your employees more effectively. A good manager will allow employees to grow as individuals and within an organization, making them a more skilled and efficient staff. A strong leader will also foster strong and lasting connections with employees. Does Your Executive Team need training, contact us today to find out the various training opportunities that we offer. Learn More...
10 Ways to Financing My Business
How Can I fund My Business?
Financing your business in any economic climate can be challenging, whether you're looking for start-up funds, capital to expand or money to hold on through the tough times. But given our current state of affairs, securing funds is as tough as ever.
1. Consider Factoring
Factoring is a finance method where a company sells its receivables at a discount to get cash up-front. It's often used by companies with poor credit or by businesses such as apparel manufacturers, which have to fill orders long before they get paid. However, it's an expensive way to raise funds. Companies selling receivables generally pay a fee that's a percentage of the total amount. If you pay a 2 percent fee to get funds 30 days in advance, it's equivalent to an annual interest rate of about 24 percent. For that reason, the business has gotten a bad reputation over the years. That said, the economic downturn has forced companies to look to alternative financing methods and companies like The Receivables Exchange are trying to make factoring more competitive. The exchange allows companies to offer their receivables to dozens of factoring companies at once, along with hedge funds, banks, and other finance companies. These lenders will bid on the invoices, which can be sold in a bundle or one at a time.
2. Get a Bank Loan
Lending standards have gotten much stricter, but banks such as J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America have earmarked additional funds for small business lending. So why not apply?
3. Use a Credit Card
Using a credit card to fund your business is some serious risky business. Fall behind on your payment and your credit score gets whacked. Pay just the minimum each month and you could create a hole you'll never get out of. However, used responsibly, a credit card can get you out of the occasional jam and even extend your accounts payable period to shore up your cash flow.
4. Tap into Your 401(k)
If you're unemployed and thinking about starting your own business, those funds you've accumulated in your 401(k) over the years can look pretty tempting. And thanks to provisions in the tax code, you actually can tap into them without penalty if you follow the right steps. The steps are simple enough, but legally complex, so you'll need someone with experience setting up a C corporation and the appropriate retirement plan to roll your retirement assets into. Remember that you're investing your retirement funds, which means if things don't pan out, not only do you lose your business, but your nest egg, too.
5. Try Crowdfunding
A crowdfunding site like Kickstarter.com can be a fun and effective way to raise money for a relatively low cost, creative project. You'll set a goal for how much money you'd like to raise over a period of time, say, $1,500 over 40 days. Your friends, family, and strangers then use the site to pledge money. Kickstarter has funded roughly 1,000 projects, from rock albums to documentary films since its launch last year. But keep in mind, this isn't about long-term funding. Rather, it's supposed to facilitate the asking for and giving of support for single, one-off ideas. Usually, project-creators offer incentives for pledging, such as if you give a writer $15, you'll get a book in return. There's no long-term return on investment for supporters and not even the ability to write off donations for tax purposes. Still, that hasn't stopped close to 100,000 people from pledging to Kickstarter projects.
6. Pledge Some of Your Future Earnings
Young, ambitious and willing to make a bet on your future earnings? Consider how Kjerstin Erickson, Saul Garlick and Jon Gosier are trying to raise money. Through an online marketplace called the Thrust Fund, the three have offered up a percentage of their future lifetime earnings in exchange for upfront, undesignated venture funding. Erickson is willing to swap 6 percent of her future lifetime earnings for $600,000. The other two entrepreneurs are each offering 3 percent of future earnings for $300,000. Beware: the legality and enforceability of these "personal investment contracts" have yet to be established.
7. Attract an Angel Investor
When pitching an angel investor, all the old rules still apply: be succinct, avoid jargon, have an exit strategy. But the economic turmoil of the last few years has made a complicated game even trickier. Here are some tips to win over angel interest:
- Add experience: Seeing some gray hair on your management team will help ease investors' fears about your company's ability to deal with a tough economy. Even an unpaid, but highly experienced adviser could add to your credibility.
- Don't be a fad-follower: Did you start your company because you are truly passionate about your idea or because you want to cash in on the latest trend? Angels can spot the difference and won't give much attention to those whose companies are essentially get-rich-quick schemes.
- Know your stuff: You'll need market assessments, competitive analysis and solid marketing and sales plans if you expect to get anywhere with an angel. Even young companies need to demonstrate an expert knowledge of the market they are about to enter as well as the discipline to follow through with their game plan.
- Keep in touch: An angel may not be interested in your business right away, especially if you don't have a track record as a successful entrepreneur. To combat that, you should formulate a way to keep them in the loop on big developments, like a major sale.
8. Secure an SBA Loan
With banks reluctant to take any chances with their own money in the wake of the credit crisis, loans guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration have become a hot commodity. Indeed, funds to support special breaks on fees and guarantees on SBA-backed loans have run out a number of times. And while SBA-backed loans are open to any small business, there are a number of qualifications, including:
- Under law, the SBA can't guarantee loans to businesses that can obtain the money they need on their own. So you have to apply for a loan on your own from a bank or other financial institution and be turned down.
- In order to qualify as a small business, your firm needs to meet the government's definition of a small business for your industry.
- Your business may need to meet other criteria depending on the type of loan.
- After determining that your business meets the qualifications, you need to apply for a commercial loan from a financial company that processes SBA loans since the SBA doesn't provide loans directly. The bank's qualifications can be more stringent.
9. Raise Money from Your Family and Friends
Hitting up family and friends is the most common way to finance a start-up. But when you turn loved ones into creditors, you're risking their financial future and jeopardizing important personal relationships. A classic mistake is approaching friends and family before a formal business plan is even in place. To avoid it, you should supply formal financial projections, as well as an evidence-based assessment of when your loved ones will see their money again. This should reduce the likelihood of unpleasant surprises. It also lets your investors know you take their money seriously. You also need to seriously consider how the arrangement will be structured. Are you offering equity? Or will this be a loan? Perhaps most importantly, you need to emphasize the risk involved. Offer up a strong business plan, but remind them there is a good chance their money will be lost. It's better to mention that upfront to Aunt Gladys rather than over Thanksgiving dinner.
10. Get a Microloan
The lack of a credit history, collateral or the inability to secure a loan through a bank doesn't mean no one will lend to you. One option would be to apply for a microloan, a small business loan ranging from $500 to $35,000. Microloans are often so small that commercial banks can't be bothered lending the funds. Instead of a bank, you need to turn to a microlender. a non-profit organization that works differently than banks. Microlenders offer smaller loan sizes, usually require less documentation than banks, and often apply more flexible underwriting criteria. There are a few hundred microlenders throughout the U.S. and they often charge slightly higher interest rates for loans than banks. "Microloans are really for that startup entrepreneur or an entrepreneur in an existing business facing a capital gap who needs to secure capital for new equipment or to service a contract," says Connie Evans, president and CEO of AEO, which represents 400 mostly non-profit microlenders and microenterprise organizations.
Write Choice Consulting Firm can assist you with identifying the right financing opportunity for your business. We are not a funder, however we have community partners nationally and internationally that we work with to help you with your various financing needs. Meet with us to Learn More...