Module 5 - What to Write
What You'll Learn
You will know how to complete a business grant application and the most important information to include in each section. You'll also learn what tone, semantics, and flow to best utilize as you write your application or proposal.
A. Style of writing
B. The biggest challenge of business grants for entrepreneurs
1. Common sections found on grant applications
2. An emotional story that is related to your business.
The way in which you write your business grant tells grantmakers a lot about you. Reading your proposal or application, grantmakers will form an idea of who you are as an entrepreneur, a researcher, and a person. They will decide whether you are creative, logical, analytical, up-to-date, ambitious in the relevant industry, and, most importantly, capable of executing the proposed business venture. Allow your discipline and its conventions to determine the general style of your writing, but allow your own voice and personality to come through. Be sure to clarify your business ventures goals and benefits.
The Biggest Challenge
Understanding and knowing what to write on your business grant application is the biggest challenge all entrepreneurs face when they are trying to win a business grant. Now that you have read Models 1-4 thoroughly, we can now dive into the typical grant application you may face section by section. Although all business grant applications are not designed the sames, there are common sections that will mot like be found on all applications.
Common Sections Found on Business Grant Applications
The first section you are likely to encounter on a business grant is your business description. In this section you will provide grantmakers will details on your business venture. This entrepreneur want to start a mobile produce market, here is her description of her business idea:
The Orchard Mobile Market brings fresh fruit and vegetables to at risk communities across Los Angeles that lack community markets filled with fresh produce, enabling at risk communities to improve their eating habits utilization five produce van equipped with refrigerated cases, scales and a digital chaser system. Customers shopping at the Orchard Mobile Market will be invited to sign up for our Rewards Program, which will provide loyal customers will exclusive deals and discounts on future purchases of fresh produce. Our mobile markets will also carry materials, including cookbooks that feature produce recipes, providing them access to online curriculum on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into their meals. Mobile Orchard staff will also provide assistance on how to use our website.
The more details you provide the better, be careful because most grant applications do have a word limited, so take the approach of writing your business description several times before narrowing it down to the final paragraph that your going to actually submit.
Another section you will certainly encounters the one that will ask you to describe your self and your staff and each one's perspective experience, grant applications that can show experience in the same industry as your business venture will be highly favored that grantmakers:
Jennifer Hazelton, Business Owner, Director, holds an Associate's Degree in Dietetics from Lesley College. Jennifer Hazelton has extensive experience working with seniors and expecting mothers with severe malnutrition and was responsible for implementing the successful pilot test program in 2001. She is proficient with learning technology, including computer hardware and software.
Sue Amberson, Nutrition Clerk, Has 3 years of experience at Vermont University assisting the Head Chef with preparing and cooking weekly meals for the student body, Sue Amberson is working with the students with severe chronic illnesses and will be responsible for customer service and checkout processing for customers of The Orchard Mobile Market .
Joan Freeman, Web Master, Technology Instructor, holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Ellby Vocational College. Joan Freeman is providing support to customers with technology has taken responsibility for community involvement.
The more you and your staff's experience is related to the business venture have or want to start, the more comfortable grantmakers fill with giving you money.
All grantmakers will want to know what your specific plans are for the business grant, you will of course use this section to explain your budget in regards to the grant:
The Shround Foundation Business Grant will ensure 10 communities with a collective population of 50.789, get daily access of fresh produce at reasonable pricing. To start with a purchase of 5 computerized cashiering machines will be purchased at $12 each, allowing all customer to make purchases directly from the mobile market. 1 Tech Electrical Technician will be added to our staff as an consultant at $10,000 to install all automated equipment into each mobile market, all services performed by the technician that exceed $10,000 will be donated by the technician as prior agreement between The Orchard Mobile Market and the consultant dictates. $1,000 will be spent on annual training, and an additional $1,000 towards producing offline and online media materials that inform the communities we service of what our mobile market has to offer and the benefits of patronizing us.
The more details you provide in this are the better, but of course that will be dictated by how many words they are allowing you to use, just be sure when possible with every item you plan to purchase with their money, if the community will benefit in someone be sure to highlight it. Not everything you do with the business grant will benefit the community you service, but the more things you link to community the more likely it is you will receive a grant.
Adding Your Emotional Story for Leverage
Make your grant application memorable well after it has been read by adding an emotional story somewhere in your application where it makes since. For example, we will continue with The Orchard Mobile Market, We will add an emotional link to the business description:
It was sadness that brought Jennifer Hazelton to the creation of her Orchard Market, losing her aunt losing her left leg, and her uncle losing his life to complications of diabetes they were unable to control thanks to their poor diets that were a result of and limited access to fresh produce and other healthy choices in their neighborhood. The Orchard Mobile Market brings fresh fruit and vegetables to at risk communities across Los Angeles that lack community markets filled with fresh produce, enabling at risk communities to improve their eating habits utilization five produce van equipped with refrigerated cases, scales and a digital chaser system. Customers shopping at the Orchard Mobile Market will be invited to sign up for our Rewards Program, which will provide loyal customers will exclusive deals and discounts on future purchases of fresh produce. Our mobile markets will also carry materials, including cookbooks that feature produce recipes, providing them access to online curriculum on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into their meals. Mobile Orchard staff will also provide assistance on how to use our website.
Although, the emotional link was placed at the beginning of the business description, it can in fact be place any where within the description, like so:
The Orchard Mobile Market brings fresh fruit and vegetables to at risk communities across Los Angeles that lack community markets filled with fresh produce, enabling at risk communities to improve their eating habits utilization five produce van equipped with refrigerated cases, scales and a digital chaser system. Customers shopping at the Orchard Mobile Market will be invited to sign up for our Rewards Program, which will provide loyal customers will exclusive deals and discounts on future purchases of fresh produce. Our mobile markets will also carry materials, including cookbooks that feature produce recipes, providing them access to online curriculum on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into their meals. Mobile Orchard staff will also provide assistance on how to use our website. This business idea came about after running into several customers in the local super market that complained about not being able to buy some of their favorite fruits and vegetables due to the small selection of produce the store offered, Jennifer decided to seek our funding to turn that fact around for her community.
Whether you add your emotional link in the beginning, middle or end, make sure it is related to your business venture.
There are also grant applications that will ask for information on any partners or partnerships that are involved in your business, here is a sample of a winning application highlighting their partners, this particular entrepreneur has extensive ties with the community:
Partners and Roles The program represents a collaboration of numerous partners representing the private for-profit sector, the private non-profit sector, and government. Project partners have committed $550,000 in match to the program.
Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development: The state entity that oversees LIHEAP will have overall fiscal, management, and reporting responsibility.
A W.I.S.H.: A private nonprofit representing the 30 CSBG/LIHEAP/DOE WAP entities in Washington will administer the project, coordinate partners, monitor contractors.
Washington State Community Action Partnership (WSCAP): The state community action association will help coordinate with the community action network.
CSBG/LIHEAP/DOE WAP network: Many of these 30 entities include private nonprofits and county-based agencies, and will administer energy assistance funds developed under the project and develop wind turbines projects.
Coastal Community Action Agency: A private nonprofit will serve as model program for wind turbine acquisition, siting and operation and provide technical assistance to other community action agencies on development process.
Grays Harbor School District: A school district will provide land for the Coastal CAP model program and will use the site to teach students about energy.
Western SUN: A consortium of private and public utilities will provide training and technical assistance on cooperatively-owned power projects.
Last Mile Cooperative: An organization representing utilities and others interested in distributed generation will develop a cooperatively-owned model wind project.
Northwest SEED: A private nonprofit will provide technical assistance on the viability of potential wind power sites and assist in contract negotiation with landowners
This grant application was awarded a $50,000 business grant for their energy business venture in wind energy.
Many business grant applications will request for you to describe the problem your business venture will address, for example:
"Across the United States, businesses struggle every day to keep their doors open, particularly due to the issue of cash flow. D18 has found that most businesses who are involved in production are legally exempt from having to pay taxes on their utility costs accrued during the production process, due to what is known as a “Consumed in Production” tax exemption. In order to receive this exemption, companies must have their facilities surveyed and analyzed to see what portion of utilities used are exempt, and then these records are forwarded on to the appropriate agencies. Several businesses are unaware of this exemption; others know about it and have for one reason or another, chosen not to act. Still further, some businesses have taken advantage of the exemption, and are seeing a boosted cash flow as a result, but do not study their energy usage after the initial exemption comes through. D18 has found that all of the possibilities mentioned are potential customers, because they both face problems that require special help. First, many businesses either lack the knowledge, the time, or the available effort to follow through on the exemption; second, companies who have gone through the exemption process must stay up-to-date with their exemption calculations to ensure they are receiving the proper amount of exemption, and so that they stay in good standing with the State."
Quite a few grantmakers will require you add an one paragraph to 2 page executive summary to your application or proposal like the Extreme Tech Challenge. Here is an executive summary from entrepreneurs that applied for business grants to open a restaurant:
"They opened their first restaurant in Antlers, Oklahoma in 2001, and their second in Hugo in 1988. Although praised for the quality of many of the items on their menu, they have attained a special notoriety for their desserts. After years of requests for their flavored whipped cream toppings, they have decided to pursue marketing these products separately from the restaurants. Marianne and Keith Bean have developed several recipes for flavored whipped cream topping. They include chocolate, raspberry, cinnamon almond, and strawberry. These flavored dessert toppings have been used in the setting of their two restaurants over the past 18 years, and have been produced in large quantities. The estimated shelf life of the product is 21 days at refrigeration temperatures and up to six months when frozen. The Beans intend to market this product in its frozen state in 8 and 12-ounce plastic tubs. They also intend to have the products available in six ounce pressurized cans. Special attention has been given to developing an attractive label that will stress the gourmet/specialty nature of the products.
Distribution of Fancy’s Foods Whipped Dream product will begin in local southeastern Oklahoma area. The Beans have an established name and reputation in this area, and product introduction should encounter little resistance.
Financial analyses show that the company will have both a positive cash flow and profit in the first year. The expected return on equity in the first year is 10.88% ."
As mentioned previously business grants of $25, 000 or more like the OC Startup Day will want to know if you are aware of your competition, here is a description of the above restaurant's competition:
"There are several brands of whipped topping available in mainstream retail outlets. In the grocery stores in the Antlers and Hugo area, all of the ready-to-eat varieties are produced by large players, specifically Kraft and Sara Lee. There are also dry mixes available, but these are not direct competition for Whipped Dream. According to sales figures at grocery outlets in Antlers and Hugo, approximately 65% of the national brand prepared whipped topping is sold in frozen tub form, while the remaining 35% is in pressurized can form. The strengths of these products are their market shares and distribution channels. They are available in virtually any retail grocery outlet, and have gained strong market acceptance. They are also distributed with other refrigerated and frozen dairy products. Finally, they are priced at $1.29-1.89 per 8-ounce tub or 6-ounce pressurized can, an advantage when compared to the suggested retail price of Whipped Dream. The weakness of these products is in the lack of variety. None of these companies produce or market a flavored topping. Several of the products are also classified as ‘whipped topping’, but are actually not dairy based."
And, of course with the identification of you business competitors, will be asked to common up with a marketing strategy to overcome your competitors:
"Distribution of Fancy’s Foods Whipped Dream product will begin in the local southeastern Oklahoma area. The Beans have an established name and reputation in this area, and product introduction should encounter little resistance. The managers of Pruett’s IGA and Gardiner’s Grocery in Antlers, as well as Pruett’s in Hugo, have indicated that they are willing to carry the products. Their letters of intent and endorsement are included in the Appendix section. It is also important to note that Gardiner’s Grocery puts an emphasis on specialty food products in addition to standard grocery items. After Whipped Dream’s debut in Antlers, Hugo, and surrounding towns, Fancy’s Foods intends to participate in the “Made in Oklahoma” Demonstration Program administered by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture and Pratt’s Foods in Oklahoma City. This program will enable the Beans to introduce Whipped Dream into the Oklahoma City metropolitan area under more favorable market conditions. Fancy’s Foods also intends to enter the grocery and specialty markets in the Tulsa area in 2000. The Beans will rely heavily on in-store displays and demonstrations in southeastern Oklahoma stores, as well as those in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. They will demonstrate the flavored topping in conjunction with fresh fruit during warmer months, and as a topping on gourmet coffee and hot chocolate in the cooler months. Special attention has been given to developing an attractive label that will stress the gourmet/specialty nature of the products. A copy of the label is attached in the appendices. Linda Byford, a business planning and marketing specialist at the Oklahoma Food and Agricultural Products Research and Technology Center at Oklahoma State University assisted with developing the label, and conducted a focus group study to evaluate the image projected by the label as well as the packaging."
Although, these are the most common sections you will need to complete thoroughly to apply for any given business grant, there are other rare sections you will also encounter, such as: do you have any of your own funding to contribute to your business idea, have you receive other business grants, budget projections, current assets, and other similar questions related to your business ventures.