Ontario residents who want to start a business or expand an existing one can apply for government grants through the various government funding options that are available, both in the province of Ontario and through the federal government of Canada.
The process of applying for a grant is relatively straightforward, but it is important to carefully read the eligibility requirements and submit a complete application.
In this article, we will walk you through the steps of applying for an Ontario government grant.
Determine your eligibility to the funding options
The first step in applying for a government grant is to determine if you are eligible. The eligibility requirements will vary depending on the grant, but generally, you must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and your business must be based in Ontario.
Keep in mind that some funding programs may be specific to a certain location within Ontario, or may be focused towards a specific industry, or have a goal in mind to fund only specific funding purposes.
To see all funding options in Ontario and to determine which ones you may be eligible for, be sure to use the Funding Database tool.
Prepare all the required documentation.
The second step is to gather the required documents.
This will vary depending on the grant, but typically you will need to provide information about your business, such as its financial statements and business plan. You may also need to provide proof of citizenship or residency.
The business plan will be the most crucial so ensure you have that ready. Using tools such as the Business Plan Builder will help.
To further assist you in the process, here are 8 steps how to create a proper business plan to help you with your funding in Ontario.
1. Define your business
The first step is to determine what your business does. Write a short description of your product or service and why it is unique. Be specific and include any relevant statistics or data that illustrate the need for your business.
2. Research the market
Next, you need to understand who your target market is and what their needs are. Conduct market research by surveying your target market, reading industry reports, and speaking to experts in your field. This will help you to better understand your competitors and how to position yourself in the market.
3. Set goals
After understanding the needs of your target market and the landscape of your industry, you can start setting goals for your business. These goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). For each goal, outline the steps you will take to achieve it and the timeline for doing so.
4. Outline your finances
Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and outline your company’s finances. Start by estimating how much money you will need to get started and how much you anticipate spending each month. Then, estimate how much revenue you expect to generate each month. Be sure to include a contingency fund to cover unexpected expenses.
5. Write your executive summary
The executive summary is a brief overview of your business plan that highlights the key points of your argument. This is typically written last but should be placed at the front of your document so that readers can refer back to it as they read through the rest of your plan.
6. Describe your team
No business can succeed without a strong team in place so be sure to highlight the experience and qualifications of each member of your team. If you are starting a solo operation, describe any relevant experience or expertise that you have that will help you to succeed.
7. Create a marketing plan
Your marketing plan should outline how you intend to generate awareness for your product or service and attract customers. Include information on what channels you will use (e.g., social media, paid advertising, PR), what message you want to communicate, and what tactics you will use to reach your target market . .
8. Set milestones and timelines
Once you have all of the above information compiled, you can start setting milestones for each goal with corresponding timelines. Doing this will help ensure that you stay on track and hit all fo your objectives. Scheduling regular check-ins with yourself or with a larger group will also help keep everyone accountable and on track.
Creating a business plan may seem like a lot of work but fully understanding your business, the needs of the marketplace, and having goals, milestones, and timetables in place is critical for any small business wanting to experience their definition of success. Don’t put off writing a business plan another day -get started today!
The application process
The third step is to complete the application form.
Be sure to read the instructions carefully and answer all of the questions accurately. Incomplete applications will not be processed and this is often one of the top mistakes that small business owners make – not completing the application in full; not reading the material correctly, or not providing the required documentation as mentioned above (or as per application requirements).
The fourth step is to submit your application. You can submit your application online, by mail, or in person. Keep in mind that each funding agency may have a different method of submission, so it is always a good idea to read up on the program that you are considering applying to.
Need funding for your small business?
If you are accepted for a grant, or any type of funding, the fifth step is to sign a grant agreement and return it to the agency. This will outline the terms and conditions of receiving the grant money.
The final step is to receive your grant funding and put it to good use!
Follow the terms of your grant agreement and make sure you use the money to benefit your business. Ensure you don’t use the funds for anything but what you initially agreed to – otherwise the funds can be taken back.
Applying for a government grant can be a great way to get financial assistance for your business. By following the steps outlined above, you can increase your chances of success.
Now that you understand the process of applying for an Ontario government grant, it’s time to start your search!
Check out the Funding Database for a list of current grant programs in Ontario as well as those federally available across Canada.