An online Google search is often the worst place to start when looking for free help to start and grow a business. For example, type in the search terms: “Money For Business” and you will receive about 2,130,000,000 results on Google, alone.
The truth is you are not going to live long enough to look at even a tiny fraction of these websites. Plus, most of the top search results are comprised of companies that want to sell you the help you need.
However, there are government agencies and non-profit organizations that actually provide free money and business services yet they do not have advertising funding to get their websites to rank well in search engines and, in many cases, it is illegal for them to advertise at all.
Leveraging Free Federal Business Resources
Many profitable businesses in the United States have used government programs to fuel their success. They spend millions on lobbyists to ensure they don’t miss a potential opportunity to grow their businesses using resources that are available to everyone, including you and me. I have first-hand experience with this because I spent the first five years of my professional career working for Fortune 500 companies in Washington, DC.
I believe every entrepreneur should know about, and have access to, the free money and assistance available to them—but most have no idea where to look. There are literally thousands of government programs that offer free money and services to businesses and entrepreneurs. So, here’s a look at a few of the best free programs available to small business owners:
Small Business Development Centers
Did you know? There are thousands of free small business consultants all over the country who receive government grants specifically to provide expertise to people like you, to start or grow businesses in their region. These Small Business Development Centers (SBDC’s) are often familiar with the local money sources available — and more importantly, they can usually provide free expertise on any business challenge you face. From filling out a business loan application to crafting a marketing strategy, your local SBDC can provide services throughout the ideation and growth of your business. Contact an SBDC office near you for details.
SBA Loans May Be Better (Or Worse) Than You Think
The biggest misconception about Small Business Administration (SBA) loans is that they require loads of paperwork and time. The second myth is that all SBA lenders have the same requirements. This is not true. Different banks have different requirements and different types of businesses they lend money to. You can get a list of local SBA lenders that match your needs and you should apply to all of them. Locate SBA lenders in your state and watch my YouTube video to learn more about SBA Loan programs.
Secure Government Contracts
Why apply for a $10,000 grant when you can land a million dollar contract? You can spend weeks, even months searching for grants for your business, but the problem with most grants is this: they provide small amounts of money which you can usually only get once. Instead, you can spend the same amount of time researching government contracts and better yet—you can receive them more than once, usually forever. The best part is that the government gives out grants to experts who will personally help you complete the paperwork. Also, there are grants available for small businesses to help you land government contracts. Can you believe it? You can get money to learn how to get more money! To learn more about the federal marketplace visit SBA.gov. Then research free government contract consultants listed with the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC). Watch my YouTube video to learn more about government contracting.
Land $7,000 To Train Yourself or $250,000 To Train Employees
Are you a yoga instructor who wants to learn a new technique to expand your business? Do you operate a call center and want to train 50 employees to provide better customer service? Every state offers training money so businesses can compete in today’s global economy and develop a skilled workforce. Contact your local CareerOneStop office to learn about programs in your state or watch my interview with a government official as we explain these programs in further detail.
Get Customers Overseas and $5,000 To Visit Them
To better compete in this global economy, two federal government agencies—U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Department of State—as well as every state government has free help for you to find business in other countries. They will use our embassies to find you customers, check their backgrounds, set up appointments, provide translation services, allow you to use embassy offices to meet, and more. You can even get grants to travel overseas to attend trade shows or meet with potential customers. Contact the SBA to learn about programs in your state or watch my YouTube video.
Acquire Free Money from Your Congressman
Your U.S. Representative and Senators and your state elected officials have better access to all that is hidden away in the bureaucracy than you or I will ever have—even better than the multimillion dollar lobbyists. It’s our elected officials who decide how much money each department and agency will receive. So government offices cater more to legislators than to taxpayers like you and me. These elected officials have lots of staff who simply take calls from taxpayers and figure out how the government can help their constituents, namely you. Visit VoteSmart.org and find out how to contact your elected officials. But first, watch this video with an elected official to learn how they can help taxpayers like you and me.
Let Experts Analyze Your Business for Free
Many small businesses and startups simply cannot afford a big-time consulting company to evaluate their venture. But you can afford to contact similar consultants who are government subsidized and don’t travel in private jets. They will actually come to you and give you $5,000 worth of free consulting. They spend a half a day with you and provide a free analysis of your business. Watch this video to learn more.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Matthew Lesko is an American author, self-proclaimed federal grant researcher, and infomercial personality. He has written more than twenty books telling people how to get money from the United States government. He is popularly known as “that question mark guy” for the Riddler-like suits that he wears in his television commercials, infomercials, interviews, and in his everyday life. Lesko is known for his colorful suits decorated with question marks and sometimes wears one of his question mark suits during his daily activities in and around Washington, D.C. Connect with @leskofreeradio on Twitter.
© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.