There are a plethora of small business grants in Canada. Usually they are specific, but some can be broader, meaning there will be more applicants and competition will be stiff.
But even getting to the application process can be challenging. Finding Canadian business grants that your business is eligible for can feel like digging in a haystack. The last thing you want to do is spend hours or days on the internet researching. A lot of grants that small businesses may be eligible for don’t specifically list small businesses, which can be confusing.
No matter what stage your business is in, whether it is a newer startup or a well-established business and you’re looking to expand, there is most likely a small business grant for you.
4 steps to apply for small business grants in Canada
1. Build your business plan
Even if you’re not applying for a grant, creating a business plan is always a good idea. You’ll need one for any type of funding you’re looking for. A business plan will help set you up for success, no matter what stage your business is at. It gives you a clear overview of your business, including structure, milestones, market research, and financial health and projections.
Should you not be eligible yet for a business grant, or if your application is unsuccessful, a business plan will help set your business in a position to be a good candidate in the future. You can also use it to help you build credit, which will look good on any grant application down the road.
2. Know what you’re looking for
Not all small businesses are eligible for grants, so spending time preparing a grant application that won’t be successful is time wasted.
While there are always exceptions, small business grants in Canada tend to be specific to certain demographics and/or tailored to a very specific need or market. Some regions in Canada offer specialized incentive grants, such as the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
In Canada, there tend to be umbrella grant categories that include environmental technology, biotechnology, agricultural business, and some arts-based businesses. Retail businesses and franchises tend to not be eligible.
Availability of business grants also tends to fluctuate with economic and changing market needs. Keeping up to date with these factors will service you well, not just when you apply for grants, but also in the management of your own business.
3. Search within your industry
Identifying your industry and what grants are available will help you narrow your eligibility. There are many grants available that are industry specific. But figuring out what classification your industry falls under can be challenging. The Government of Canada has prepared this guide to help you with that.
Becoming familiar with the North American Industry Classification system (NAICS) can streamline your search when researching government assistance.
4. Write a stellar grant application
A grant application, or proposal, isn’t a single-day endeavour. Start early. A lot of grant programs open up for applications months before the deadline. Take advantage of that time.
Here’s where your business plan is going to come in handy. Many grant applications are similar to business plans. They detail the structure of your business, including financials, marketing strategies and research, branding, and more.
Successful grant applicants learn from the successes and failures of their competition. Looking at other grant applications, if possible, and investigating templates can help you visualize your own grant application. And always get another set of eyes on your application.
Grant opportunities available for small businesses in Canada
The variety of grants, financing programs, and tax incentives available to small businesses are ever-changing, and range from new technology development to upgrades to job creation and business financing. Grants and programs may vary according to province and region: it’s vital to research what may be available to your business from all levels of government.
If any part of the grant process seems overwhelming, connecting with the team of Grant Strategists at GrantMatch may be worth exploring.
Here is a list of some of the most attractive grants and funding programs currently available to small businesses in Canada:
- Industrial Research and Assistance Program
- Canada Agricultural Partnership
- Student Work Placement Program
- Canada Digital Adoption Program
- Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Credit
- Tourism Relief Fund
- Digital Skills for Youth
- Venture for Canada – Hire an Intern
- Canada Job Grant Program
- Youth Employment Skills Program
- Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit
- Business Retrofit Program
This article offers general information only, is current as of the date of publication, and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.