Article | September 5, 2021
Doesn't free money for small businesses sound wonderful? Thus, free money to small-medium enterprises (SMEs) is the core purpose of small business grants. As a small business owner, you are constantly looking for funding opportunities for small businesses to expand your enterprise. This requirement became even more desirable during the coronavirus pandemic.
The following are the top challenges facing small businesses:
Cash flow is limited or inconsistent
Lack of capital raising
No provision for unforeseen expenses
Inadequate tax compliance
Absence of a budget
Combining commercial and personal finances
“It’s almost always harder to raise capital than you thought it would be, and it always takes longer. So plan for that.”
– Richard Harroch, Venture Capitalist and Author
How About We Figure Out What a Business Grant is?
A grant is a sum of money provided to a business for a particular purpose. There are several financing possibilities for small enterprises when applying for start-up business grants. You only need to know where to find it. Government (federal and state), charities, and private institutions all offer small business grants.
Unlike small business loans, small business grants do not need a repayment. In addition, unlike loans, you are not required to provide security, are not charged late fees or interest, and are not required to give away any ownership of your business. As a result, grants for small businesses are an appealing source of finance for businesses.
Small business grants are frequently awarded based on specific areas, industrial sectors, community groups, or types of enterprises. Grants come in various forms, including those granted by the government, those supplied by private firms, and those directed for specific groups such as women, veterans, or women. In addition, considering the current pandemic crisis, a new grant has been established to assist individuals negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The federal government does not provide start-up business grants; instead, its grant programs are often directed toward non-profit organizations or other government agencies that face financing challenges.
COVID-19 Small Business Grants
Several types of COVID-19 small business grants are available to mitigate the loss caused by the coronavirus to small businesses. First, government grants for small businesses provide economic relief from the loss of revenue.
The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) administers federal small business funds for coronavirus recovery under the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Non-profit Organizations, and Venues Act.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP):
Small Business Administration (SBA) provides financial help by introducing financial assistance programs like Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). However, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) concluded on May 31, 2021. Even after the termination of the program, you can still qualify for loan forgiveness. This program was a significant part of COVID-19 small business grants. As of May 10, 2021, the SBA has authorized $782 billion in PPP loans.
To qualify for loan grants, you must establish the following:
Maintaining employee and pay levels
The revenues of the loan are used to cover payroll costs and other allowable expenses
At least 60% of the earnings are used to cover payroll expenditures
COVID-19 Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
The Federal government recognized the coronavirus's impact and introduced many COVID-19 small business grants, and Targeted EIDL was one of the leading financial assistance programs offered.
The SBA makes targeted economic injury disaster funding available to small companies in low-income regions that have suffered revenue loss due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is more of a donation than a loan, as it is not returnable.
The targeted EIDL offers up to $10,000 in advance if your firm is:
Located in a low-income neighborhood
Has sustained a higher than 30% economic loss
Employ no more than 300 people
Due to COVID-19, small business owners and qualified agricultural companies in all 50 states and territories of the United States are presently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan.
Shuttered Venues Grant
As of August 2021, the Shutter Venues Grant program is ended. However, later that month, the Small Business Administration (SBA) planned to establish a supplemental Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application for 50% of the initial amount, up to a maximum of $10 million.
The Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Non-profits, and Venues Act established the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program, modified by the American Rescue Plan Act. The initiative, managed by the SBA's Office of Disaster Assistance, would provide over $16 billion in subsidies to closed venues.
Eligible candidates may receive up to 45% of their gross earned revenue in the form of a grant. The maximum grant is ten million dollars.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF)
The American Rescue Plan Act established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to provide emergency assistance for eligible restaurants, bars, and other eligible businesses impacted by the pandemic.
This program compensates restaurants for income losses caused by the pandemic, up to a maximum of $10 million per firm and no more than $5 million per physical location.
As of now, RRF is closed for new applications.
Government Grants for Small Business
Numerous government grants for small businesses have been made available for free by the federal, state, and municipal governments. However, accepting free government money entails a considerable bit of paperwork and is time-consuming and technical at the same time.
Federal Government Grants for Small Business
The federal government offers many other additional grants for small businesses along with COVID-19 assistance. Federal government grants for small businesses are generally available to firms engaged in research, technology, or health.
The government agencies that support small company grants are the SBA, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Agriculture.
Let us find out which are the most competitive government grants for small businesses.
Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)
Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR)
U.S. Small Business Administration State Trade Expansion Program (STEP)
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
State Government Grants for Small Business
State offers government incentives to a small business that address the state's social or economic issues. However, due to the minor application set for state funds, competition may be less severe and easily accessible.
Federal agencies occasionally award grants to state governments, which then distribute the monies.
Below is few resources body that offers funding opportunities for small businesses:
U.S. Economic Development Administration
State Business Incentives Database
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)
Private Small Business Grants
While government grants are beneficial to small companies, the financing levels are insufficient. Occasionally, private corporations and charities step forward and provide small business grants. On the other hand, private business grants need separate applications and may have eligibility limits confined to specific industries.
Numerous corporate-sponsored small business grants require applicants to compete in pitch competitions or something comparable. Unfortunately, few major private corporations provide substantial financial incentives to small businesses for joining (and winning) contests or pitch competitions. However, even if you do not win, you may receive a runner-up reward or exposure for your business.
Below are few private small business grants available
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
National Association of the Self-Employed (NASE)
Visa Everywhere Initiative
Wells Fargo Community Investment
Nav's Quarterly $10,000 Business Grant
Patagonia Corporate Grant Program
Start-Up Business Grants
A start-up business grant is money provided by the government or another entity to assist small businesses and organizations in establishing and developing their businesses. Initially, small business grants are often not accessible to launch a firm; nevertheless, they are available for specific businesses and owners.
The following is a list of different sorts of businesses eligible for start-up small business grants:
Women, veteran, or minority-owned businesses
Here is an example of small business start-up grants
4.0 Schools fellowships
Jack Daniel's pitch distilled
As the information above indicates, there are several small business grants available. However, applying for grants is time intensive and may result in your firm not receiving the money needed. Finally, explore the small business grant, whichyour business is eligible for.
If small business grants are not a possibility for you, several alternative funding choices are available that fit your budget.
What can a small business grant be used for?
Small business grants are used for a variety of purposes: to establish a business, to stimulate minority entrepreneurship, to support research and development in a particular industry, to bring innovation, and to assist businesses in the domains of science, technology, and health, the list goes on.
How can I get a grant to start a small business?
There are several websites and organizations where you may obtain small company grants, including the following:
USDA Rural Business Development Grants
Small Business Development Centres
National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE)
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
What distinguishes grants from small business loans?
The primary distinction between small business grants and small business loans is that grants are not returned (with certain circumstances), but loans need to be paid back. In addition, grants are generally reserved for small firms, requiring more time to process and receive the funds.
Article | March 20, 2020
As a small or medium-sized business (SMB) owner, it’s a challenge to come up with new marketing concepts, but repurposing existing content is a surefire method for driving ongoing traffic to your site and a simple way to amplify your message without investing a lot more time or effort. That last part's important because, as an SMB owner, you’re busy managing everything for your business, including marketing.
Article | July 19, 2021
We talk to a lot of people each day about which software is right for their business, which means we here at Software Advice understand the problems that small and midsize companies face.
Whether it’s working out how to bring your business online fast to save the family-owned dairy farm, or helping you find scheduling software to make sure your appointments are more organized, we’re here to offer advice. No matter the circumstance, we’ve likely talked to someone in a similar situation to you.
According to a survey run by Capterra, only 27% of small-business owners find software that meets or exceeds their expectations without compromise. That statistic might seem discouraging, but with proper planning and some expert advice, you can ensure you're getting the best software fit for your business.
Article | August 18, 2021
The term "Horeca" is an abbreviation of "Hotel", "Restaurant" and "Café". It represents a very diverse sector, i.e. from star-restaurants to catering and canteens to brasseries up to small, local cafes. A small country like Belgium counted end 2017 almost 60.000 horeca-enterprises (7% of all Belgian enterprises), thus showing the importance of this sector. Furthermore with a total revenue (also end 2017) of over 15 billion EUR and more than 75.000 people employed in this sector, it remains an important economical actor for the Belgian economy.
It is undisputable that the Covid crisis has been a disaster for this sector. However, now that life gradually returns back to normal, it is likely that the trends which were already launched in the horeca sector before the crisis will be even enforced and accelerated.
With new habits come new customer needs related to the horeca. Think about the company canteens. With more people working from home, this sector will have to reinvent itself. Most likely they will start offering also prepared meals directly to consumers via supermarkets and other distribution channels. Obviously, this will force other actors in this market to reinvent themselves, thus launching a chain reaction.
Even more pronounced is the impact of take-away and delivery. While a large group of the population was still a bit hesitant to consume take-away, the Covid-confinements also forced this group to start exploring these new services. At the same time, restaurants which were not offering take-away services before were also forced to adapt. As a result, take-away and meal delivery services have known an exponential boost and this trend, although it will know a small set back when the pandemic is fully over, is here to stay.
Unfortunately the horeca sector was already a sector with a lot of difficulties before the crisis. The sector historically copes with one of the highest percentages of businesses bankruptcies , especially when looking at the first 5 years following the establishment of the business. This is often caused by the fact that many people consider the horeca as an easy way to entrepreneurship, founding their businesses with a poor of even no business plan. At the same time there is of course the strong dependency on labor. As this sector is very labor intensive, margins are low due to the high labor costs. Furthermore with hard work and irregular and long working hours, horeca businesses have more and more difficulties to find motivated and qualified personnel. Additionally the sector, being so fragmented, often lacks professionalism, not really for the horeca-activity (i.e. the preparation and serving of food and drinks) itself, but rather for the supporting activities like financial management, supply chain management (like good stock management), procurement… This makes that many restaurants have a poor view on the breakdown of their costs and revenues, thus losing a lot of money in inefficiencies like expired stocks due to too large ordering, certain dishes which are not sold at the right price, employees being paid too much expensive overhours, bad negotiations with suppliers…
Apart from the above very obvious trends, there are still a lot of other trends. These map perfectly with the 8 universal trends, I described in my earlier blog "Universal trends - Common over all industries?" - https://bankloch.blogspot.com/2021/01/universal-trends-common-over-all.html, i.e.
Pressure on margins: margins are historically already low in the horeca sector, but are becoming even more under pressure, due to new forms of competition, like meal boxes (like HelloFresh or Foodbag), prepared meal services (like Mealhero), sharing platforms (like Thuisafgehaald or Menu Next Door), virtual restaurants (also called Dark Kitchens, i.e. restaurants without a physical location, but only serving online delivery platforms), living room and concept restaurants… This forces restaurants to work more professionally and efficiently and find a specific niche (of clientele willing to pay extra for specific product or experience). These efficiency gains can be achieved via digitalization (with regards to personnel management, cash register, stock management…) and new technologies (like 3D printers or cocktail machines like "Tenderone", "Bottletender"…), but also by being more selective on opening hours/days (especially for weekends and holidays), putting less (more specialized) choice on the menu card, making dishes less complex by investing more in the quality of the ingredients, by pushing more self-service (e.g. let the customer cut the food for the whole table, which has as a welcome benefit that it increase the customer experience).
Trustworthiness: clients must have confidence (trust) in a horeca place they are visiting. Obviously, the customers must have the feeling of being treated fairly and respectfully (e.g. via a transparent and correct pricing), but they also want to be able to trust the product they are consuming (eating or drinking). This means providing more transparency, like providing more info about each dish and more its ingredients (important for specific diets and allergies), nutritional value and origin of the product (i.e. farm-to-table).
Frictionless experience: the customer experience should be at pleasant as possible, meaning any friction should be removed where possible. This consists of frictionless ordering processes, via digital menu cards (providing details of each dish and allowing easy filtering) and direct ordering (directly to the kitchen), all the way to a frictionless checkout, consisting of digitally receiving and paying the bill. A multitude of solutions are available here, like full ERP solutions for horeca businesses (like Apicbase, Horeko, Square for restaurants, HorecaMakers, Growzer…), digital menu card solutions (like Kimeru, Digital Wizards, Futuresto, EasyButler…), ordering terminals and apps (like Futuresto, EasyButler, MyOrder, QCard, PayMyTable…), cash registers (like Lightspeed, RestoMax, Gastrofix, HorecaMakers…).
Personalization: the most important trend for the horeca is obviously the personalization. This results in products and services adapted to the specific needs and desires of every customer. Additionally horeca businesses are being converted more and more into "Experience" places (i.e. surprise your customers, by selling them moments and letting them escape from the stress of day-to-day life), i.e. ensure to give the customer a unique, unforgettable experience, not only via the food and service, but also via the texture and color of the dishes, the building, the interior design…
More in detail this trend means:
New types of restaurants, like living room restaurants (enforcing a more personal touch and home feeling), concept restaurants, food markets, pop-up restaurants…
Accommodating for different food and drink choices. Already around 20-25% of people have a specific food choice, meaning restaurants have to accomodate for people wanting to eat vegetarian, vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, paleo, biological… Additionally people want alternatives for the traditional wine-card like different types of water, mocktails, non-alcoholic wine, champagne and spirits (e.g. Seedlip), luxury soft drinks (e.g. Crodino, Finley, Pinky Rose, Fentimans & Fritz-Kola) or special types of tea to drink the meal.
Horeca places should become places to socialize, i.e. provide a home-feeling (i.e. a feeling of comfort, stability, trust, intimacy, warmth…), engage socializing between guests via guest tables, street food or sharing plates…
Allow customers to compose their dishes themselves, cfr. Subway, Hawaiian Poke Bowl…
Democratization: by working more efficiently, more automation and digitalization, it becomes possible to offer certain services and products in higher volumes and at lower costs and thus at a lower pricing. This means certain horeca products, which were before only available to the happy-few cannot be offered to a larger segment of the population. A good example are star-restaurants offering a standardized (simpler) version of their dishes via a take-out or catering service.
Authenticity: restaurants are focusing more and more on providing an authentic experience, e.g. by transforming old factories or churches to restaurants, integrating open kitchens where guests can see the cooks preparing the dishes, chefs finishing plates at the customer’s table… Additionally there is a trend towards pure, simple and honest, meaning natural, artisanal and/or high-quality products (ingredients), which are prepared and served in a simple way. A good example of this are also the traditional dishes in a more luxury fashion, e.g. new types of éclairs (Chez Claire), croques (RemorK), hamburgers (Ellis Gourmet burger), meat balls (Balls & Glory)…
ESG (Environment, Social and Corporate Governance): with customers being more sensitive about the environment and society, horeca places need to accommodate to this customer desire. Restaurants are working more and more with local, healthy (e.g. use of superfoods, use of less salt and fat…), biological/organic and Fairtrade products, but also with products with a lower ecological footprint, like e.g. replacing meat with insects, soya-based meat replacements or vegetables. Additionally horeca players need to avoid waste, via a no-waste kitchen concept (via e.g. smaller portions, trash cooking, creative usage of waste…), via anti-food-waste platforms (like Too Good To Go) and by reducing/avoiding packaging (e.g. avoiding plastic straws, cups…).
Partnerships: as many businesses, a horeca business is more and more integrated in a concept, like incorporated in a shop or combined with an experience (like a horeca place in a brewery). Additionally due to the digital revolution, horeca places need to partner more and more with online ordering and delivery services (like Deliveroo, TakeAway.com or UberEats, potentially integrated via Deliverect), social media (like Facebook and Instagram) and food review platforms (like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, Foursquare…), reservation platforms (like TheFork, Tablebooker, Resto.be…) ordering and payment apps (like Dorst.app or Yummy.app). Additionally new players are coming on the market to help horeca businesses with their typical problems, like procurement (e.g. Tippr or Horeca Direct Shop) or recruitment (e.g. Mise en Place).
It is clear that although the horeca sector is already centuries old, it is also undergoing major disruptions. In the end let us hope that all those evolutions can give us an even more enjoyable horeca experience.