Thinking of starting a new business or expanding one you already have you but don’t have the financial resources to do so? Applying for a government grant is one option to consider. Be aware that only a few individuals get approval for their grant applications, but it won’t hurt to try. Realize that in addition to the legitimate grants offered by government agencies and private institutions, hundreds of bogus operations that pose as financial assistance centers exist. They are only out to get money from unsuspecting victims. Don’t fall for these scams. Keep the following tips in mind during your search for legitimate government grants.
1. Stay away from any agency that asks for money upfront.
If you’re truly qualified for a government grant, there’s absolutely no reason for you to pay anything during the application process. So if you come across an agency that claims it can help you get approval for a government grant as long as you pay an initial fee, consider that as a bright red warning light. The number of such operations has escalated considerably with the increasing popularity of the Internet. Many of these agencies put up bogus websites that are cleverly disguised to make it easy for people to trust them. They make people think they can really help with their grant applications. The best way to avoid these scams is to do your search offline. Inquire directly with your local government and personally get in touch with the grant approval agencies.
2. Check the credentials of grant application websites.
If you absolutely have to do your search online, which is what most people do due to the speed and convenience, carefully check the credentials of grant application websites before providing them with any information. Go to .gov websites only as these sites are run by the United States government and not by private individuals or companies. Grants.gov in particular is a great place to start. It has a concise and regularly updated list of all grants the government is offering.
3. Read reviews and check website ratings.
Websites or agencies that ask for an initial fee are likely to be scams, but the opposite isn’t necessarily true either. In other words, not charging any fees is not an indication that a website or agency is legitimate or reputable. To check if a grant website is legitimate, check with the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org) or the Ripoff Report (ripoffreport.com).
4. Stick to websites with excellent customer service.
One of the signs of a legitimate grant website is if it offers excellent customer service. A customer service agent should be available to answer your inquiries within 24 hours If no one gets back to you after this period, move on to the next website right away.
5. Have reasonable expectations.
Not everyone gets approval for grant applications. This is why it’s more likely that your application will get rejected rather than approved. So don’t entirely count on the grant money to start or expand your business. Have other options available so you can still move forward even if your grant application is not approved.