Anyone who owns a small business knows that finding funding can be an ongoing hassle. You might have perfected your product or services and have your customer service game down to a T, but when it comes to getting a little extra money to reinvest in your business, well, that’s a whole other ballgame.
Maybe that’s a way to think of financing your business — as a literal game. Of course, it’s hard to think of traditional forms of financing, whether a loan or government grant, as a game, but for the intrepid biz owner willing to dig a little deeper, there are plenty of small business contests in which you can participate. And some of these contests come with serious cash rewards.
Today we’re going to look at six of the best contests (or games, if you want to be a little more playful) for small businesses to enter in 2018.
1. Cut out food waste
The amount of food we, as a nation, waste is truly staggering. Anyone who has ever worked in the food industry knows this firsthand. To encourage companies to creatively think through this issue, The Foundation for New York’s Strongest will award $2,000, along with technical advice and goods and services, to the company that presents the best plan for how they would tackle the problem of food waste. This touches many industries. If you’re thinking of applying, hurry! The deadline is January 8, 2018.
2. Throw your best idea at a big problem
Small business owners often see the world in a different light. While they work to scale their ideas and grow their business, they often stop to think, Why haven’t others thought to do things this way? Many times they find that cost-saving solutions for their business could be applied to larger problems. The Roddenberry Catalyst Fund awards these ideas, giving grants of up to $15,000 to support ideas that could make a dent in some of our most urgent problems. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.
3. StreetShares Foundation
Are you a veteran or do you know someone who is? If so, you’ll want to take a look at StreetShares’ Veteran Small Business Award. Open to veterans, reserve or active duty members or their spouses who own at least 50 percent of the business, this program awards three annual prizes between $2,000 and $5,000. Finalists are decided by a round of judges, and the winners are ultimately selected by a public vote. This process makes this grant a fantastic opportunity to raise money and receive some valuable public exposure.
4. Caleb Brown Urban Excellence Community Grant
Do you dream of building a business that has a central role in the community, one that eventually becomes an institution? Each month the venture capitalist firm Caleb Brown awards a new community business with a gift of up to $1,000 and one year (about 500 hours) of complimentary business consulting. The goal is to nurture entrepreneurial talent in urban areas and support those who seek to build or grow small businesses in their communities. Applications are due on the 15th of every month.
Even if you don’t win any of these contests, entering them is a chance to focus on what makes your company great, where you want to grow your business and how you’d like to do that. Doing this can create a game plan that will make the coming year the best yet.
5. Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant
Are you one of the best women-owned small businesses out there? Well if you are try your luck at qualifying for the grant that awards 10 winners a maximum $10,000 each. Fashion designer Eileen Fisher has been doing this annually since 2004, and the application process begins again this Spring 2018. So, if you’ve been in business for at least 3 years, you’re eligible for this small business grant for women entrepreneurs. Learn more here about how you can further qualify, and snag the win on this contest!
6. National Association for the Self-Employed Growth Grants
NASE members can apply for $4,000 grants to finance a specific need, like website creation, equipment, or hiring part-time help. So far the NASE has awarded $650,000 in grants to mover the years. If you are not yet a member to become eligible for these grants simply set yourself up here.
For more on small business grants here are “5 Things to Consider When Applying for Small Business Grants.”