Funding business growth with “free” money

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How would you like to see more of your tax dollars used to help you and your company grow?

Tax BooksSome of your tax dollars are used to fund government programs which give money to businesses (large and small) who do things that align with government priorities. In Canada, there are over 3,000 government programs with over $6 billion available to qualifying businesses. Funding for each activity can range from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The funding can come in the form of grants (more common in Ontario programs) or low-interest or no-interest loans (more common in Federal programs).

Are you getting your fair share?

I can hear the naysayers now:

  •  I have no idea what programs are available and I cannot devote the time to learn thisMan Bangin Head on Keyboard
  • I have no idea what the REAL government priorities are
  • I don't have the time or patience to go through what it takes
    to get government funding
  • By the time I get the funding, I have spent it on the hours it took to get it
  • I can't be bothered with all the reporting requirements
    imposed on you after you get funding
  • I've applied for funding, used all the templates and got nothing
  • ... many more ...

What if there was a way to get the government funding and increase your competitiveness, all without the negatives often associated with government programs?

There are options.  Read on.

I have recently had the pleasure of listening to people from two companies:

  • Bernadeen McLeod from Mentorworks (www.mentorworks.ca ; bernadeen@mentorworks.ca )Mentorworks Logo
  • Cheryl Manuel from Deloitte Consulting (www.deloitte.ca ; chemanuel@deloitte.ca )Deloitte Logo

who each offered to do something I used to think was wishful thinking.  But, after checking their credentials, and talking to organizations who have used them before, I believe they each can do what they say.

It's not often I use lawyer language in an article, but in this case, I will.  There are other organizations who can also do what the above two organizations can do, but there are also many who claim, but cannot deliver, so if you are looking at others, do your homework first.

Right Space to Business Material on Desk with Coffee 2So what do the above two organizations do?  They meet with you to

  1. understand your company plans,
  2. identify government programs with which your plans align, and
  3. help you create the application and the required reports
    to minimize the time you have to spend creating the application
    and maximize the odds of you getting approval for funding
    for programs they identify as good candidates

They cannot guarantee you will get funding, but they have a very high success rate, and if they do not think your plans have potential for government funding, they will tell you up front and save you the effort of applying.

There is even an option with at least one of the above companies to have you NOT pay for the services unless you get the funding, and when you do get the funding, you keep 85% of it and send 15% to the company that helped you.  How can that not be a good deal?

There were some common themes to the advice of both companies:

  • Do take full advantage of funding that works for you
    (your competitors will)

  • Do use relevant, government-aligned language
    when making your applications

  • Do have a well-articulated Strategic Plan
    to provide the "big picture" of your business

  • Do apply frequently
    - some programs are annual and
    - some programs have time limits

  • Do review your alignment to government programs regularly;
    government programs are very fluid
    so last year's priorities may not be this year's

  • Don't apply for funding if your activities do not align
    to government program priorities

  • Don't do activities just to get funding;
    get funding that supports your business strategies

  • Don't apply for (most) programs if you are a startup;
    most programs require 2-3 years of profitable financials
    to support the application

Know the Rules Sign on FishookEach business activity will be judged on its own merit but in general, the government is looking to support  businesses which:

  1. are growing - or have the potential for growth
  2. can increase employment
  3. have the ability to export
  4. make capital investments

Within that big picture, the latest priorities of the government programs are (again, review this on a regular basis; government priorities do change):

  • Green / Clean / Sustainable projects
  • Innovation, R&D, New Product Development
  • Adoption of new Technologies

In today's world, many programs do have reporting requirements for you to demonstrate accomplishment of the key metrics to which your application committed.  In most cases, failure to meet the commitments will mean some form of clawback of the funding, so be realistic in your projections.

The kinds of funding programs fall into 2 generic categories:

  1. Reactive:Reactive Proactive Keys
    you get the funding after doing activities that met published government requirements
  2. Proactive:
    you must apply for funding before doing the activity
    you must not spend any $ on the activity before funding is approved

Historically, there has been a lot of talk about Reactive programs like SRED, but going forward, the government is shifting more emphasis to Proactive programs funding projects with a finite start and end date, so it is an area where you need to stay current (or work with someone who does) on government priorities and programs.

So, do you have an hour to invest in meeting one or both of the companies mentioned above (or another that can be recommended by other satisfied customers)?  The return could be hundreds of thousands of dollars in government funding for your business, with relatively little effort required on your part.

Your competitors could be doing this - leaving you with a more expensive cost structure than them - for no good reason other than you could not be bothered.

What do you think?

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Posted in General Leadership, Strategy Development.

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