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Stating your case

When applying for a business grant, it is important to provide all the information requested. Presenting this information in a readable and easy-to-understand way will encourage those awarding this funding to view you as a worthy recipient.

Where possible, look at previous successful applications. Your business might be very different, but you could learn a lot from how these applicants explained their past achievements and future ambitions.

Check the eligibility criteria and application guidelines carefully. Don’t exceed the word count for each section and make sure the submission is delivered before the deadline – and if you are required to provide testimonials or references, make sure you ask for these as early as possible.

Read between the lines

Some of the questions asked will be very specific, but others will be more open-ended. If you have done your research on the organisation awarding the grant you will be better placed to explain why you deserve it in terms they will recognise and understand.

Don’t be tempted to bend the truth to make your application sound more appealing. Grant awarders will often ask for evidence to support key statements and will take a dim view of misleading information.

It is also important not to be deterred by previous failure. Ask a third party (perhaps even a specialist grant application writer) to take a critical look at the unsuccessful application and highlight areas where it could be improved.

Words matter

A grant application is not a creative writing project. Use straightforward language – you may think your proposal is ‘ground-breaking’ or ‘unique’ but every unnecessary or irrelevant sentence is a lost opportunity to convince the party awarding the grant that you are a deserving recipient.

In some cases you may have to use technical terms and while it is sensible to assume a reasonable level of understanding on the part of the person or persons who will review the application, a proposal that is full of complex jargon will only create confusion.

Once the application is complete, read over it carefully to ensure there are no grammatical errors. It might seem trivial, but a mis-spelt or wrongly used word will create a negative impression in the eyes of the reviewer.

Granting your wish

Business grants are particularly valuable to early stage businesses where funds are limited. However, it is always helpful to specify exactly what the grant funding will be used for and its potential impact on the viability of the business.

Many organisations that award business grants will want to see how you plan to put their money to work. They may not see a return on their investment, but you need to convince them that you have a clear idea of how you will spend their money to make money.

Users of cloud based accounting packages such as Big Red Cloud can use the financial data available to accurately assess the likely effect of the grant on the business, especially if it is to be used to fund expansion.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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