University of Houston Small Business Development Center
By Tatyana Parham
Securing financial assistance can be challenging for any small business owner dealing with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, due to years of systemic inequalities that impact underserved communities of color, minority business owners experience much more difficulties when seeking funding in Texas to grow their businesses.
However, throughout the year, there are many opportunities to access additional funding through small business grants offered by corporations, special interest groups, and the government. These grants are typically created to help bridge the racial wealth gap by offering financial support to minority business owners who are often denied access to business loans. Reinforcing minority business owners stimulates the economy and local communities to which they serve and reside.
As these grants are often competitive, it is essential to thoroughly prepare before the application process. Here are some strategies that will help you maximize your chances of being selected to receive a small business grant in Texas:
Get Certified as a Minority Owned Business
The first step is to get certified by the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE). This will make the application process easier and offers several useful business development resources. The MBE requires you to have a for-profit business which is at least 51% owned and operated by someone who identifies as Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian Pacific, or Subcontinent Asian.
Create a Business Plan
Most applications will require a business plan, which is essentially a detailed roadmap to your business's major objectives and goals. Aside from business focus, a thorough business plan supports operational longevity and makes your business more credible to investors. It's important to include an action plan for how your business will contribute to your local community.
Choose the Right One
Research multiple grant programs to ensure that you find one with eligibility requirements that match your business perfectly. If your business doesn't match all of the requirements, you may be ineligible to be funded. Fully understand everything that your choice requires, which can likely help you find more funding in the future. Gain insight into the types of businesses that received funding in the past by researching the past winners. All of this information can help you have a competitive advantage against potentially thousands of other businesses seeking funding.
Organize Your Documents
Assess all necessary documentation needed to submit a complete application and perform a self-audit to pinpoint any gaps in your paperwork. Tailor your business plan to each grant you apply for, in order to appeal to specific grant committees. Common requirements in a grant application may include basic documents such as your business plan, proof of business ownership, and proof of business address. Many applications may also require you to write 300-500 words on why your business is the best fit for the program, much like a job application or scholarship.
Have Patience, But Be Timely
Getting through the lengthy application process may be time consuming. Once submitted, it may take a few months before they make a decision. Keep that in mind and remember to keep track of the opening date and application deadline. It may be useful to schedule your tasks according to the grant's timeline. You don't want to miss out on the opportunity by submitting your application after the final date.
Here is a list of current and ongoing grants for minority small business owners in Texas:
Visit our comprehensive list of grants for black women entrepreneurs, or UH SBDC's COVID-19 Business Resources page to find more funding options for your small business.
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