Finding a small business grant in Canada can be a daunting experience. Although there are certainly funds available, trying to determine eligibly, whether contingent on location or industry, can be confusing.
By understanding a bit more about how the system works though, and the different kinds of grants available, you should be able to maximize your time and only invest resources in applying for the grants you truly have the best chances of actually receiving.
1. Navigating the terminology
You might not find the phrase “small business grants” too often on Canadian government websites, perhaps because programs intended solely for small business grants are few and far between. That needn’t discourage you though, there are other funds available if you just know where to look.
In addition to the generic term “small business financing”, look for awards, contributions, shared costs, subsidies, rebates, tax credits (or tax rebates) or non-repayable loans. Under all of these various monikers you stand a chance of finding funding that you do not have to pay back.
2. Know where you stand
The fact of the matter is that some businesses necessarily fall into more grant-rich areas or industries than others. Depending on current governmental initiatives, your industry might even be specifically targeted as a desired recipient of funding.
Of course, this is not always the case. Retail businesses are generally considered to be the least frequent target of grant funding, but it also depends where you are located. In more scarcely populated areas, there might be initiatives in place to promote growth of any kind.
3. Get industry specific
Speaking of knowing your industry, trying to find less generally available niche funding might be your ticket to success. There are many small business grants and assistance programs that are specific to particular industry sectors. Not only does it help you to narrow your search, but it might even make you aware of opportunities you hadn’t previously thought were suited to your business.
There are even resources available to help you determine exactly where you fit into the small business landscape. The Government of Canada website offers a Find your industry sector that provides business and industry classifications. Arming yourself with the right key words associated with your industry can help you find more opportunities. You will also want to know what your North American Industry Classification Systems (NAICS) code is, as it can make it easier to find programs through a targeted search using your industry and “grants Canada”.
4. Hub searches and newsletters
The Industry Canada website does offer a fairly comprehensive overview of government assistance and small business grants. This page is also useful because you can see national and province specific opportunities. Depending on your sector, there might be additional services in place that have accumulated data and provides lists, updates, and even newsletters informing you of new developments in your field.
5. Make sure you’re not missing out on existing benefits
For example, there are currently tax credit programs in place that allow you to access free money in the form of tax credits. In this case, you don’t even have to prepare a proposal and wait to be approves, you can simply design and carry out your project then make your tax claim. This is a great chance for innovative or taking your business to the next level, yet many business owners are unaware they can participate in the program.
6. Talk to other entrepreneurs
The small business community in Canada is thriving, and there are plenty of communities both on and offline where people come together to share ideas and business advice. These connections can prove invaluable in terms of being constantly aware of new opportunities and developments.