Small business owners never seem to have enough time in the day to get everything done that needs to get done. Wearing multiple hats is the norm. You know you need more staff to help with the work but you don’t have the money to hire the person. It’s a vicious circle that is a real challenge to get out of. It’s taken me years to realize that although I may be good at many things, I need to find a way to bring on others who may be better equipped to do some of these than I am.
So, how does one do that when the cash flow isn’t there? Government grants for small business are a great option to look into. I’m in Alberta, so this is Canadian-focused, but many other jurisdictions also have different levels of funding available to small and medium sized businesses.
I would have been waiting forever to hire someone if I waited until I had the stability of cash in the bank first. So, I recently took a big leap of faith. I found out about two grants available – one from the province that provides money to businesses to hire youth (Workplace Training Program offered through McBride Career Group in partnership with Alberta Employment and Immigration), and the other a federal program (the Small Business Internship Program through Industry Canada) to help small businesses up the ante with their online and ecommerce marketing presence. Although we do have a primary company website, we also created a separate online store . Given our increasingly heavy activity in the social media universe, we really needed to get someone in to analyze what we’re currently doing and to supercharge things on the online front.
We were fortunate to be accepted to both of these programs, and recently hired two talented, enthusiastic, smart people to work with us. Although we have to scratch together the money to pay them up front, we are reimbursed 50% and 75% respectively of each employee’s salary.
Although these individuals are only with us under these programs until the end of March, they’ve already made a big difference. Additional work is getting done that wouldn’t normally, and we’re figuring out ways to increase our revenues with our online marketing activities in a way that I would have at best accomplished in a scattered and piecemeal fashion had I not hired one person dedicated to just that.
As a small business owner, I am deluged by programs, resources, training sessions, workshops, you name it. It’s hard to sift through all of this to find the nuggets that might make a difference. You just never know what conversation you might have, or article you might read, that might suddenly open a door for you and your business. It was because I paid attention to a colleague who had been talking about how the workplace training program had helped her organization – and because I took a close read of an otherwise unremarkable article that mentioned the Small Business Internship Program – that I became aware of these opportunities and checked them out.
In summary, government grants can be a huge help, especially to small business owners who struggle every day to keep things going. They also help give someone (often students) valuable experience and skills they may not learn otherwise. It’s a win/win for both.
Is there a small business grant that has worked for you? What was the outcome and did it take your company farther than it would have been otherwise?