In the world of small business, there is a lot riding on what you write. From pitches and proposals to blogs and business letters, every scrap of text you produce has the potential to help you grow or hold you back.

While many small business owners choose to contract big jobs like ad copywriting and grant writing to professional writers, some trailblazing entrepreneurs choose to tackle these tasks on their own. Maybe they just enjoy writing, or maybe they have budget constraints to consider. Either way, writing grant applications is a great way to secure much-needed financial backing while implementing measurable strategies for improving and expanding your business.

If you’re new to the game, know this: You can write small business grants and be successful. However, you’re going to have to work at it. Use this checklist of traits to determine if you’ve got what it takes to get your grant application to the top of the pile.

Characteristics of a Great Grant Writer

Researcher: Most people will tell you that you need to know your topic or industry inside and out if you’re going to win a grant. I disagree. You don’t have to know much at all as long as you know how to research. Find the answers, because this isn’t freshman composition. Great grant proposals are absolutely free of fluff.

Stickler for Details: Sloppiness, typos, and bad math are the kiss of death. The best grant writers are willing to set aside chunks of time when they can devote 100% of their attention to the project. Concentrate on getting all of the details right, because your application is a direct reflection of your company’s ability to follow through once the money is awarded.

Planner: When you submit a grant application, you will be expected to write a detailed plan for tracking and monitoring your progress. Grant providers don’t just give out money; they hold you accountable. You need to be able to envision what you will do with the funds and set clear goals and objectives for seeing it through to the very end.

Budgeter: Just like in elementary school math class, you’re going to have to show your work. You will have to explain in writing to the grant’s reviewers how the money will be spent. This could mean getting estimates from contractors, budgeting employee work hours, and explaining where additional funds will come from, depending on the specifics of the application.

Creator and Innovator: Applying for grants, which have very specific rules and restrictions, will often require you to think outside the box. You may have to build a new company program from the ground up or find ways to streamline the workflow process. You might need to think abstractly about processes and projects or even make physical changes to your office space or filing systems.

Even if you don’t posses every one of these characteristics, you still have a chance of winning those grants by delegating to team members who excel in the areas you don’t. Grant writing can and should be a team effort for businesses with multiple employees.

To get started finding grants, use this small business financing search form on the SBA website.

Have you applied for grants before? What did you find most challenging about the process?

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