If you aren't one of those fortunate startup business owners who have unlimited resources at their disposal, applying for grants and business loans is a must. Unlike the SBA and other small business loans, grant applications don't require an elaborate business plan, profit and loss analysis, and a lot of jumping through legal and accounting hoops. However, they require a lot of effort and thoughtfulness on the applicant's part, as well as some creativity and ability to tell a story that tugs at the right people's hearts. Let me tell you up front: I didn't get the grant I applied for, and I suspect it was precisely because I didn't tug at the right people's hearts. Still, I hope this quick rundown of the application process will be helpful to those of you who consider applying for a grant of one kind or another at some future point.
It all started when I saw the above announcement at one of the SCORE webinars I took. If you're not familiar, SCORE stands for Service Corps of Retired Executives, and it's the largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors in the U.S. that helps small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals. FedEx just happens to be partnering with SCORE in their efforts to help small businesses.
At first, I was reluctant to apply. Submitting the application, photos, essay, putting together a video, and then having to promote it so more people would vote for Buckaroo Bling? All of that sounded extremely daunting, and I felt it was way out of my comfort zone. But then again, staying in one's comfort zone never got anyone very far, did it? So, I bit the proverbial bullet and went for it.
Filling out an online application was the easiest part of the experience, followed by choosing the photos to represent my business. Thanks to the great lifestyle photos of my jewelry by Linda Mann and her super models (they're not supermodels in the sense modeling industry understands this word, but they definitely did a super job with my jewelry), I had plenty of images to choose from. The most challenging part was recording a short video (no longer than minute and a half) and getting my long-winded self to fit all the important details grant application required in a mere 90 seconds. You can check out the final version below.
Once that was done, the nightmare for an introvert like me began: trying to get people to vote for Buckaroo Bling in the grant contest. If you're not the one to toot your own horn, you'll definitely be able to relate. How do you go beyond the (very limited) friends and family circle anyway? If anyone has ideas, feel free to let me know, as 2020 grant application deadlines will be here before I know it.
Sure, now when I watch the video, I think I could've done it much better, but things are always clearer in hindsight. One thing that I can take from this experience is confidence I gained to apply for other grants. Some things that seem scary in the beginning turn out to be not that scary once we start doing them.
What is it that you'd want to do but are afraid to try? Share in the comments below.
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