Starting a small business is one of the most rewarding, yet challenging, things a person can do. These businesses power the American economy and small business grants can help them flourish with new products, services or distribution methods. Small business growth is central to economic expansion. Need proof? According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, the number of American small businesses topped 30 million as of 2016, and small business hiring accounted for 61.8 percent of net new jobs created over the last 25 years.
Entrepreneurship should drive a sizable portion of research activity because small businesses provide an indispensable type of specialization. For example, it’s not uncommon for local entrepreneurs to start businesses in local markets and then, through a little R&D, burst onto the national scene with groundbreaking ideas.
Erica Liu Williams – founder of Gr8nola – started by experimenting with grains and fruits in her kitchen, then traveling to local farmers markets, where she asked her customers for feedback on how to improve her sugar-free health food snacks. In 2014, Williams’ crunchy creations caught the attention of a Google employee who invited Williams to present her work at the tech giant’s annual Micro Kitchen Fair, where Google employees vote on foods for their company kitchen. Gr8nola won a first-place prize and now supplies the firm and the public with unconventional, but people-pleasing snack foods.
In business today, product development challenges facing current and aspiring entrepreneurs are numerous and research can be costly. Fortunately, funding options for R&D abound. To continue growing a business, small business grants and other funding sources can offer key advantages to give your development efforts a head start.
Small business grants and funding options
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a well-known government agency that helps fledgling businesses secure financing. Given its mission, “to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation,” the SBA exists to assist small businesses at all stages of maturity – even those planning R&D projects.
While SBA loans are a significant resource to get a business going, established enterprises can take advantage of SBA grants to fund research activities that can spur new product and service offerings. Take a look at the SBA’s programs that can fund and jumpstart research:
Grants and funding for special groups
Beyond R&D issues, each entrepreneurial venture can have its own special needs and challenges, some of which go beyond those faced by a typical startup. Military veterans, for example, are highly under-represented in small business ownership totals, with long-standing SBA estimates placing as few as 8.5 percent of all small businesses being veteran-owned.
Fortunately, a number of organizations and programs can lend a helping hand. Veterans will want to investigate special opportunities and programs that are available to them specifically:
If you’re thinking of starting a new business or expanding yours through research or by developing a unique product or service, start by reviewing all the SBA can offer and contact your local SBA District Office for more information on the small business grant process.
When your business is ready to expand, turn to the business bankers at California Bank & Trust for insight on SBA loans for working capital, acquiring equipment or owning commercial real estate. CB&T’s bankers can help you navigate SBA offerings, so you can find resources to fuel the takeoff of your growing business.[cite::171::cite] [cite::172::cite]