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Having your own business can be one of the most life changing experiences you will ever have. The great sacrifice and hard work necessary in the beginning will fulfill your life like nothing else. And more importantly entrepreneuring is the surest way to accumulate financial wealth in our society. About 66% of millionaires got that way by having their own business and not by inheriting their money.
It will probably be difficult to get all you need with a grant. It is not impossible. Grants for business are there, but they are hard to come by.
When you are looking for money you should make sure that you investigate every possible source of financial assistance. There are organizations that will lend entrepreneurs money even if they have no money or bad credit.
When you start investigating how to get money for your business ask for "financial assistance programs" instead of "grants." You may be able to apply for venture capital, loans you don't have to pay back or even direct payments. Ninety percent of all free money that the government gives out is not called grants.
Investigate and apply for all financial assistance programs. You never know what they might give you money for. It doesn't hurt to ask. The worst that can happen is that they say "NO."
Also keep in mind that it is always good to have more than one way to get to your goal. I actually believe that when we start on a venture there is no one perfect way to get there and you can't even design the correct path until you get there. We each have to start on the best of the choices that are before us and follow that path until you will see a better path. And I believe that you will see a better path once you start. So, here is where you start:
Members of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity provide free and low-cost assistance and training, as well as financial assistance, to underserved populations who want to start a business including "people with low incomes and welfare recipients." Contact: Association for Enterprise Opportunity, 1601 North Kent Street, Suite 1101, Arlington, VA 22209; 703-841-7760; Fax: 703-841-7748; www.microenterpriseworks.org; Email: email@example.com. To find these organizations in your area go to: http://www.aeoworks.org/index.php/site/page/category/find/
Count Me In makes loans of $500 to $10,000 available to women across the country who have nowhere to turn for their first business loan. The Make Mine a Million Business Program offers mentoring and financing to women business owners; a dream team creates the roadmap businesses need to grow from a micro to a million dollar enterprise. First place winners receive loans up to $45,000 from Count Me In, a year of mentoring from a team of business advisors and an OPEN American Express Business charge card. Runners up receive loans up to $20,000. Contact: Count Me In, 240 Central Park South, Suite 7H, New York, NY 10019; 212-245-1245; www.count-me-in.org; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trickle Up provides grants of $700 (in two installments) to people wishing to start a business. Frequently these businesses are based in the home. They provide business training and seed capital to low-income individuals who want to become entrepreneurs.
Trickle Up works with 250 different coordinating agencies to provide the business training necessary to receive this grant. The first $500 is given once a business plan has been completed, and the second $200 is given after the business has been operational for 3 months. Contact Trickle Up to learn if a program is available near you. Contact: Trickle Up, 104 W. 27th St., 12th Floor, New York, NY 10001; 212-255-9980; 866-246-9980 (toll-free); Fax: 212-255-9974; www.trickleup.org.
Over 500 programs run by non-profit organizations will give you up to $5 for every $1 you place into a savings account that is used to complete a life goal like education, housing, start a business, or even transportation. They are called Individual Development Accounts and they are designed for people with little money to save. You can make up to $60,000 and still qualify. To find a program near you, contact the IDA Network. Contact: IDA Network, Corporation for Enterprise Development, 777 N Capitol St NE, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20002; 202-408-9788; http://www.cfed.org/focus.m
Over 100 National Urban League Affiliates serve more than 2 million African-Americans and people of all ages and financial levels, including securing funding for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Contact: National Urban League, Inc., 120 Wall Street, New York, NY 10005; 212-558-5300; Fax: 212-344-5332; www.nul.org; Email: email@example.com,
Every state has a number of money programs for people to start or expand a business in their state. Governors compete with other governors to see who can create the most jobs, and that's why they offer money for people who create jobs in their state. You don't even have to be a residence of the state. You can live in one state and put your business in a state that offers you more money. States also offer special money for entrepreneurs to put their business in certain areas of the state or in certain areas of a city. There are also other money programs to build buildings or renovate old buildings. Some of this money comes from federal sources which is given to the states and distributed to entrepreneurs in the state. Other money is generated from local taxes. And some states use the winnings from their lottery money to give to entrepreneurs to create or expand businesses.
Listed below are some of the main programs that are offered.
* Louisiana Department of Economic DevelopmentP.O. Box 94185 Baton Rouge, LA 70804 225-342-5388225-342-3000www.lded.state.la.us
Quality jobs: Provides an annual refundable credit of up to 6% of payroll for a period of up to 10 years for qualifying companies.
Cost-free training: Louisiana's QuickStart Training Program utilizes the state's vocational-technical institutes to provide cost-free pre-employment training customized to a company's requirements. The Jobs Training Partnership Act Program can help a company find trainees and will also pay a portion of their wages while they are in training.
Workforce development and training: Develops and provides customized pre-employment and workforce upgrade training to existing and prospective Louisiana businesses.
Business Matchmakers: Seeks to pair small and medium-sized suppliers in the state with larger companies which are currently making purchases out of state.
Minority Venture Capital Match Program: Provides for a match investment for qualified minority venture capital funds. The fund must have at least $250,000 of private investment for which LEDC may invest $1.00 for every $2.00 of private capital up to $5 million.
Small Business Loan Program: Provides loan guarantees and participations to banks in order to facilitate capital accessibility for businesses. Guarantees may range up to 75% of the loan amount, not to exceed a maximum of $1.5 million. Loan participations of up to 40% are also available. Applicants must have a business plan and a bank that is willing to fund the loan.
Business Linked Deposit Program: Provides for a 1% to 4% interest rate reduction on a maximum of $200,000 for a maximum of 2 to 5 years on term loans that are funded by banks to Louisiana businesses. Job creation, statistical area employment, and cash flow requirements for underwriting are all criteria, which will affect the percentage and term of the linked deposit.
Micro Loan Program: Provides loan guarantees and participations to banks that fund loans ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to Louisiana small businesses.
Contract Loan Program: Intended to provide a loan participation and guarantee to a bank for government contract loans. These loans are intended to help businesses finance working capital for contracts with local, state, or federal government agencies. Loans may range from $5000 to $1,000,000 and must be for terms of one year or less.
Exim Bank City/State Program: LEDC has a relationship with the U.S. Export-Import Bank in Washington, DC Under this program, LEDC facilitates export working capital loans for small Louisiana businesses.
Venture Capital Match Program: Provides for a match investment for Louisiana venture capital funds. The fund must have at least $5 million of private investment for which LEDC may provide $5 million.
Venture Capital Co-Investment Program: Provides for a co-investment in a Louisiana business of up to 1/4 of the round of investment, but not more than $500,000, with any qualified venture capital fund with at least $7.5 million in private capital. The venture capital fund may be from outside of Louisiana.
BIDCO Investment Program: Provides for a match or co-investment in certified BIDCOs. BIDCOs are state-chartered, non-depository alternative financing sources for small businesses. BIDCOs frequently provide equity and subordinated debt financing to new and growing companies, as well as to companies requiring turnaround assistance. A BIDCO must have at least $2 million in private capital. LEDC may match the investment $1.00 for $2.00 of private capital up to $2.5 million. Co-investments are considered on a project by project basis and cannot exceed 33% of the total investment.
Specialty BIDCO Investment Program: Provides for a match or co-investment in certified Specialty BIDCOs. Specialty BIDCOs are BIDCOs established with a particular focus on assisting disadvantaged businesses and businesses located in impoverished and economically disadvantaged areas. The BIDCO must have at least $250,000 in private capital. LEDC may match the investment $1.00 for every $1.00 of private capital up to $2.5 million. Co-investments are considered on a project by project basis and cannot exceed 50% of the total investment.
Small Business Bonding Assistance Program: The primary goal of this program is to aid certified Economically Disadvantaged Businesses (EDBs) in acquiring quality bid, performance, and payment bonds at reasonable rates from surety companies. EDBs receive help reaching required bonding capacity for specific projects. Contractors often do not reach these levels on their own due to balance sheet deficiencies and a lack of adequate managerial and technical skills. After certification by the Division and accreditation by LCAI, contractors are eligible to receive bond guarantee assistance to be used as collateral when seeking bonds. The Division will issue a letter of credit to the surety for an amount up to 25% of the base contract amount or $200,000.
Economic Development Award: Provides financial incentives in the form of linked deposit loans, loan guarantees and grants to industrial or business development projects that promote economic development and that require state assistance for basic infrastructure development.
International Trade: The International Trade Division utilizes trade and catalog shows, identifies trade opportunities, offers counseling, matches exporters with markets and encourages participation in their seminars.
Microenterprise Program: The Microenterprise Program assists low income parents of minor children to start or strengthen a small business. The program provides entrepreneurial and economic literacy training and mentoring; financial counseling; and access to capital through micro loans for the participants. In addition, the program provides ongoing assistance to participants to ensure that microentrepreneurs successfully negotiate the challenges new microenterprise businesses face during the initial phases.
Small Business Development Centers: Louisiana Economic Development provides 12 Small Business Development Centers throughout the state.
Louisiana Seed Capital Program: Provides matching funds to be used to provide seed capital for Louisiana small businesses at the early stages.
* Rural Development OfficeUSDA, Rural DevelopmentLouisiana State Office3727 Government Street Alexandria, LA 71302 318-473-7921Fax: 318-473-7829www.rurdev.usda.gov/la
USDA Rural Development provides a full range of rural development credit services in rural Louisiana. Programs in the areas of business and industrial development, community facilities, multi-family and single housing and water and waste disposal are administered through Rural Development state and area offices.
* First Stop ShopSecretary of StateFirst Stop Shop Division P.O. Box 94125 Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9125 800-259-0001225-922-2675Fax: 225-922-0439www.sos.louisiana.gov/comm/fss/fss-index.htm
The First Stop Shop is a "licensing information center" for prospective small business owners. The First Stop Shop gives current and potential business owners a single place to go for licensing information needed to start a business in Louisiana.
* Department of Environmental QualitySmall Business Assistance Program602 N. Fifth Street Baton Rouge, LA 70802 225-219-3296Fax: 225-219-3309www.deq.state.la.us
The mission of the DEQ's non-regulatory Small Business Assistance Program is to provide technical assistance to small business owners in complying with state and federal environmental regulations. The SBAP is dedicated to: interpreting federal and state environmental regulations and giving guidance on how to comply with them; interpreting the rights and obligations of the small businesses, identifying emission sources and compounds; estimating emissions at each source for inventory questionnaires; assisting in the preparation of environmental permit applications and exemptions; developing pollution programs; and providing guidance with multi-media issues.
* Louisiana Department of Agriculture and ForestryOffice of Marketing5825 Florida Boulevard, Suite 1158P.O. Box 3334 Baton Rouge, LA 70821 225-922-1277Fax: 225-922-1289www.ldaf.state.la.us
The Office of Marketing provides one-on-one counseling assistance to numerous clients for varied marketing services and economic development needs. The staff is capable of providing a wealth of information about Louisiana aquaculture, agriculture and forestry either directly or through extensive professional networks.
* Incumbent Worker TrainingLouisiana Department of Labor1001 North 23rd StreetP.O. Box 94094Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9094 225-342-3290www.ldol.state.la.us
Incumbent Worker Training is designed to benefit business and industry by assisting in the skill development of existing employees, increasing employee productivity and the growth of the company. Both are expected to result in the creation of new jobs, the retention of jobs that otherwise may have been eliminated, and an increase in wages for the trained workers.
* Loans For FarmersFarm Service AgencyU.S. Department of Agriculture3737 Government Street Alexandria, LA 71302-3395 318-473-7721Fax: 318-473-7735http://www.fsa.usda.gov/la/
The Farm Service Agency provides Direct and Guaranteed Loans to farmers through a variety of programs, including:
Farm Ownership Loans: purchase farmland, construct or repair buildings and other fixtures, and promote soil and water conservation. Up to $200,000.
Operating Loans: purchase items needed for a successful farm operation, such as livestock, farm equipment, feed, seed, fuel, farm chemicals, insurance, and other operating expenses. Can also be used to pay for minor improvements. Up to $200,000.
Beginning Farmer and Rancher Loans: provides funds to beginning and farmers and ranchers who are unable to obtain financing elsewhere.
Downpayment Farm Ownership Loans for Beginning Farmers: helps beginning farmers and ranchers purchase a farm or ranch. Also provides a way for retiring farmers to transfer their land to a future generation of farmers and ranchers. Applicant must have a down payment of 10% and FSA with finance 40%, with the remaining balance from a commercial lender. Purchase price cannot exceed $250,000.
Loans to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers/Ranchers: helps socially disadvantaged applicants buy and operate family-size farms and ranches.
Youth Loans: Made to youths to establish and operate income-producing projects with the participation in 4-H clubs, Future Farmers of America, and similar organizations. Up to $5,000.
Emergency Loan Assistance: provides loans to help producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought, flooding, and other natural disasters, or quarantine. Up to $500,000.
Beginning Farmer and Rancher Land Contract Guarantee Pilot Program: "prompt payment guarantee" from FSA. FSA will provide payment to seller two times if the beginning farmer does not pay. Program is tested in IN, IA, ND, OR, PA and WI.
Farm Ownership and Operating Loan Guarantees: FSA will guarantee loans up to $782,000.
You can actually get up to $1,000,000 in grants and or loans to open or expand a business from the U.S. Federal Government alone. There are over 100 different money programs available from offices ranging from the U.S. Small Business Administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the U.S. Department of Commerce. For the best source identifying all federal only government money programs available, look at a government published book called The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance published by the U.S. Government Printing Office (www.gpo.gov) or look at it for free on the web at www.cfda.gov. Another good starting place to find anything in the federal government is a free service called the Federal Information Center at 1-800-FED-INFO or www.pueblo.gsa.gov/call.
The Louisiana Small Business Administration Office delivers a variety of programs and services, such as start-up and operational assistance through small business training and counseling, financial assistance for start-ups, operational and disaster help, business opportunities, such as government contracting, subcontracting, procurement, and much more. For information on how the Small Business Administration programs maybe of help to you contact: Small Business Administration (SBA), Finance Division, 365 Canal St., Suite 2820, New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-589-6685, http://www.sba.gov/la/
The government will give you:
The money is in the form of tax credits on your federal and/or your state income taxes. If you are paying any taxes then this is truly free money because it is taken right off your tax bill. To find out about every tax credit at your state level contact your state Department of Revenue by calling 411 and asking for the state capital operator, or go to www.govengine.com and click on your state and start looking for the Department of Revenue. For information on all federal tax credits contact Internal Revenue Service, 202-622-5000 or 800-829-1040 (Business Tax Questions) or go to www.irs.ustreas.gov/formspubs/. You can also turn to the Louisiana Development office for help. A good place to start is your State Government Office of Economic Development located in your state capital. Contact you state at: Louisiana Economic Development, 1051 North Third Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802-5239 or P.O. Box 94185, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9185, 800-450-8115 or 225-342-3000, http://www.lded.state.la.us/
We cannot emphasize enough the help that is available from your state. We have known people who have gotten $11,000 to start a business at home and $15,000 to finish a degree because they were suffering from low self-esteem. Terri Handshoe got her college education paid for, as well as had an interpreter and books covered during schooling. Sandy Smith got a $3,000 custom designed telephone system which allowed her to work for a major hotel chain. You can receive:
Your state Vocational Rehabilitation offices want to keep you a productive member of society, and they will do what it takes to get you on your way. If you are denied any of these services, you have several places you can turn for help. The first stop is your state Client Assistance Program. They will help you learn your rights and handle the appeal to get you what you need. They can take your appeal process from the first stages, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary and it won't cost you a penny. Contact: Director, Department of Social Services, Vocational Rehabilitation Services, 8225 Florida Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70806; 225-925-4131 or 800-737-2958; http://www.dss.state.la.us/departments/lrs/Vocational_Rehabilitation.html
Program assistance is provided in many ways, including direct or guaranteed loans, grants, technical assistance, research and educational materials. To accomplish its mission, USDA Rural Development often works in partnership with state, local and tribal governments, as well as rural businesses, cooperatives and non-profit agencies. The Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) provides help to rural areas that need to develop new job opportunities, allowing businesses and cooperatives to remain viable in a changing economy.
Business Program Guaranteed Loans are used to improve, develop, or finance business, industry, and employment, and improve the economic and environmental climate in rural communities, including pollution abatement and control. This objective is achieved through bolstering the existing private credit structure with guarantees of quality loans, which will provide lasting community benefits. This type of assistance is available to businesses located in rural communities with a population of less than 50,000.
Intermediary Relending Program finances business facilities and community development projects in rural communities with a population of less than 25,000. This is achieved through loans made by USDA to intermediaries that provide loans to ultimate recipients for business facilities and community development in a rural area.
Rural Cooperative Development Grants establish and operate centers for rural technology or cooperative development to carry out activities and generate information useful to rural industries, cooperatives, businesses, and others in the development and commercialization of new products, processes, or services.
Rural Economic Development Loans and Grants make zero interest loans and grants available to rural electric and telephone borrowers to promote rural economic development and job creation projects.
Rural Business Enterprise Grants assist public bodies and non-profit corporations finance and facilitate development of small and emerging private businesses located in rural areas.
Rural Business Opportunity Grants to promote sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs. Making grants to organizations to provide for economic development planning, technical assistance, or training accomplishes this.
Contact: USDA Rural Development, 805 West Oak Street, Room 3, Amite, LA 70422; 985-748-8751; http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/la/
Remember, these are just starting places. We have an entire book and DVD training program on this, called Free Money For Entrepreneurs and you can check out our website, www.myamericanbenefitsplan.com, and look under Business for more sources.
I know you must be terribly overwhelmed by now. But don't let it bother you. Finding information in today's world just takes a new mind set. You can handle it. Everything just takes one step at a time.
What you have here is the most complete set of sources for your project. If you search on the web using the words "business in Louisiana" you are likely to wind up with a few hundred thousand sources. Here you only have a few dozen. I know it would be wonderful to just give you one source that will have the magic answer for you, but 90% of the time life does not happen that way. We pinpoint the best of the sources available. It's like looking for a date. It is very difficult for someone else to identify the perfect person for you, but others can tell you the best places to look.
It is important to follow up as many sources as possible and if those sources cannot help you, ask them for leads on who can. Also keep your mind open to other opportunities you never even thought about as you are investigating these sources. Maybe you can rent someone's existing land and give them part of the money you bring in. This way you learn how to get customers and run a business without having to pay for everything. The most important part of starting any business is getting a customer. Without that you are not in business.
Good luck and keep your dream alive. And keep finding more ways to fan the fire when the flames start to dwindle.
Matthew LeskoBest Selling Author and Entrepreneurwww.lesko.com