You also should be prepared to act fast, says Ough, "because when the money comes, it's game on and you have to apply quickly."
Unlike larger government grants, which can require dozens of pages of work, applications for some of these small business grant opportunities may be just a few pages long. That said, many must be turned around in a very short period, sometimes as little as 48 hours.
To prepare, assemble your business plan and pitch, and clearly outline your team, infrastructure and legal support. Make information about your product or business idea, such as your prototype, patent or sales sheet, readily available. Gather your sales and customer base statistics, and be ready to supply your credit score and collateral information. Being able to provide customer testimonials and information about your existing partnerships can only help.
And, of course, knowing your business's unique value proposition is absolutely key.
Being prepared also means researching the companies you're targeting for funding and looking for alignment. If a company's mission isn't compatible with yours, the company won't fund you, Ough says. Finally, make sure you can agree to follow the grantee's guidelines for spending any funding you receive.
Ough summarizes, "Get your variables in place, decide what you want the money for, then target the organization. From there, you're going to start to create a roadmap of what you need to help your business grow. You'll need to do your homework."
To help you get started, Ough offers a list of resources you can use to search for targeted, alternative funding opportunities for your small business. To learn more about small business funding, access the playback of the webinar and listen to the Verizon Small Business Webinar Series.