Sifting through the abundant startup funding Canada has to offer can be overwhelming for burgeoning startups with limited resources. Canada’s many grant opportunities are one reason the nation was named the fourth-best global startup ecosystem by StartupBlink. While it may demand comprehensive research and an administrative approach, applying for grants is a great strategy to seek funding in Canada.
Canada’s small business grant market is divided into basic funding, in-kind grants, wage subsidies, and tax credits. Understanding how different types of grants can be used for your startup is vital to ensuring they’re used correctly, but it’s a complicated landscape. Putting the right processes in place will streamline grant-seeking efforts, such as using grant management software to organize and identify the best funding opportunities for your startup.
A checklist for applying to startup grants
The world of startup grants is a highly competitive sphere with a wide variety of stakeholders. Before diving into a sea of grant applications head first, prepare your team to put their best foot forward with a checklist for startup grants, which includes:
1. Confirm eligibility
Approaching only the grant opportunities which best suit your organization will save the time and energy spent on applying en masse. Using directories and interactive grant-finding websites is great for combing through available grants to find the right ones for your startup.
Technology can also aid the tedious process of qualifying startup funding opportunities. Grant management software can find and bring new small business grants to you, cutting down on time spent manually searching for them. Once securing a grant, you’ll also need to ensure the money is used in accordance with the terms of the grant. Eligibility is a vital component to watch throughout the grant process.
2. Prepare a business plan
Investors typically ask startups seeking funding a lot of meticulous questions, but their main question is a broad one: “What are you going to do with the money?” To answer this open-ended question in a detailed and strategic way, a business plan is the best option. Business plans give investors and grant managers a clear overview of your proposal, and business plan software can help:
- Outline the structure and model of your business
- Create a roadmap for growth
- Track goals and key performance indicators
- Generate branded strategy maps, charts, and other visuals
- Allow all team members to add updated information
Having a business plan ready is the key to a swift and successful grant application process. Keeping this information updated will reduce the stress on your team when completing new grant applications. Having a well-compiled business plan also has the added benefit of instilling confidence in those reviewing your grant application.
3. Gather financial reports
Startup teams usually have a variety of responsibilities, and it’s not often feasible to hire a financial expert as the venture starts out. However, generating financial reports entails working with complex financial data that not every employee may have the full grasp of. Using digital tools, such as financial reporting software, that simplify financial reporting is the most cost-effective way for startups to provide financial information without hiring an expert. If you are under-experienced with financial reporting, bookkeeping tools will generate key analytics that grant providers may ask for.
4. Ensure compliance with terms
The grant-seeking process includes several phases; it isn’t complete once you’re awarded a small business grant. Compliance with the terms of the awarded grant is a necessary step in receiving funds. If your startup isn’t vigilant about adhering to the criteria of the grant, you could be asked to return the money. Verifying your organization’s adherence to the regulations of the grant is easy with grant management software, which provides a platform to organize and oversee all grant details.
Create a strategy to seek startup funding in Canada
Every startup hopes to fund themselves through a single investment. For most, the dream of attracting a budget-less angel investor is far from reality. The majority of startups manage multiple donors throughout the lifespan of their business. Canada offers hundreds of grants for startups, so it’s easy to get lost or confused by the plethora of different opportunities. Defining a strategy to seek startup funding in Canada reduces time wasted on the wrong grants for your organization.
Staying organized is the only way to follow through on a strategy. A grant-seeking strategy will need to organize contact management, funds received, application statuses, deadlines and more. Fortunately, cloud-based tools can keep your team organized and connected. These tools can also provide reminders and alerts that automate your efforts.
Store and reuse important data
Digital grant management simplifies the traditional grant application process in many ways. With the power of digital storage, business information can be saved and reused easily. Once one grant application has been filled out, the responses can be automated to fill in future grant applications. For startups without the budget to hire a dedicated grant writer, this function of grant management software is indispensable.
Canada’s small business grant portal lets users track grants based on industry, but keep in mind that there may be funding opportunities that are not listed here. Everything from bookkeeping to business strategy to branding can play a vital role in your applications. Few startups have the resources to manage every step manually, but the software market is closing the gaps. With the help of a few apps, finding startup funding in Canada can be another simple business process.