At some point during your career as an entrepreneur, you’ll probably need extra money to cover business expenses, replace equipment, buy materials or expand your company.

If you are planning and you have the right type of business, a small business grant might be the best option for an influx of cash. If you need money fast, though, consider a small business loan.

Small Business Grants

When you have to time to wait for funding, a small business grant is often the way to go. That is because grant funding is free money. You will need the extra time, though, because you will have to spend a good bit of time doing the legwork required to apply.

Grants are designed to help companies who stimulate the economy by providing a public service. Each grant has its own specific requirements, so you’ll need to read the full terms and conditions for each grant to see if your business qualifies.

The Small Business Association (SBA) is an excellent resource for grant information. It partners with a variety of organizations that provide grant money for small businesses that might be like yours. Grants are offered for a wide range of recipients and reasons, including, but not limited to:

  • Scientific research and innovation
  • Export development
  • Veteran- and woman-owned businesses
  • Educational opportunities
  • Micropreneurs

Finding and Applying for a Small Business Grant

A simple first step is to make an appointment with a local SBA counselor in your area to get advice. You can also search for grants at Grants.gov, your state or local economic development association, or small business development agencies in your area. You may also want to look for private grants from corporations or smaller organizations that help specific communities like women and minorities.

Grants have a standard cycle that includes application, award and post-award phases. This process can take several months to complete, so be patient. Small business grants are a smart way to get free funding if you have the time to devote to researching, applying, waiting for approval, and providing reports about the implementation of your grant.

Small Business Loans

When you don’t have time to wait for funds — or if your business doesn’t qualify for a grant — your best option for a quicker influx of funds is often to get a small business loan. You can get $500 to $5 million in loan money, according to the SBA, depending on what you need it for and factors like collateral you can offer and how long you’ve been in business. Some lending options can even get you cash within 48 hours, while other lenders might take weeks to finalize your loan.

Applying for A Small Business Loan

When applying for a small business loan, there are a few things to keep in mind that can help you land the money you need. They include:

  • Be clear about what you’ll use the money for. There are a variety of loan types. As you search for loans and talk to lenders, they’ll want to know exactly what you’ll be doing with your funds.
  • Shop around for the right lender. Look for loans that offer the best interest rate and terms for your situation. Banks are a great go-to, but you may also want to investigate nonprofit microlenders that specialize in shorter-term loans, and online lenders that offer higher approval rates and quicker turnaround. A line of credit or business credit card might also be a good option for you.
  • Collect all your documents. Lenders want to know a lot about your business before finalizing your loan. You’ll need to gather documents like tax returns, financial statements and legal documents. If you already have these in hand when you apply, the process will go more quickly.
  • Update your personal profiles and business website. Lenders may look online to see how secure and successful your business appears to be. So, update your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles (both personal and business), as well as your company website. This will help ensure your business looks professional and trustworthy. This extra attention to detail could help a potential lender feel better about giving you a loan.

Your best bet and first stop should be the SBA for help with grants and small business loans. Don’t forget to check out the SBA’s Lender Match program. It makes finding lenders easier than searching on your own, and SBA lending partners typically offer attractive rates.

If you need a merchant cash advance, contact a Talus representative to get more information.

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