At the Food For Thought workshop in February we were lucky enough to have a presentation from Janet Herniman looking at both what grant funding is currently available and also sharing some of her top tips for making funding bids successful.
BREXIT has undoubtedly introduced uncertainty in the grant funding landscape, but the government is expected to continue supporting investment in our business performance one way or another both before and after March 2019; small businesses are an essential part of the UK economy.
Janet is in a rare position as she works closely with several of the grant awarding authorities in Devon and is in an excellent position to give us the most up to date information about what is available in which area.
Also, this experience gives her detailed knowledge of building a strong funding application; the difference between a fantastic application and one that is not successful.
Whilst some funding opportunities have recently closed to new applications there are still funding streams open and many other businesses are still working on full application preparation.
Janet has four points to consider when writing an application:
1. Need for the money
Grants are available to support investment that would otherwise not take place. You will need to show that the grant money is needed to enable the project to go ahead.
2. Market need and demand
Information on market size, trends, who your target customers are, evidence that you can acquire the extra customers forecasted and that your project will not impact on competitor businesses is an important part of your application.
When it comes to explaining why the plan you have should be backed by grant funding you’ve got to have more than vague ideas for what the benefit will be. Grant assessors want to see specific proof in terms of:
– what new sales you can generate?
– who will buy your new product or service?
– how much more profit will you make?
– how many jobs will you create as a result?
– what about benefits for your suppliers and other local businesses?
– how do you know all this?
As well as explaining clearly what your project is, the benefits it will bring to your business and importantly how your project fits into the programme funding priorities you will need to back up your statements with evidence.
Evidence can be supplied in a number of ways such as quantifying specific outputs, sharing your own or independent market research and getting letters of support from suppliers and customers.
In rounding up, Janet stressed that while a successful application can take a lot of work and preparation, the benefits are worth it financially and many applicants say it makes their business stronger as a result.