Marty Metro, owner of UsedCardboardBoxes.com and a VerticalResponse email marketing customer since 2006, will never forget the day he found out that his company won a $250,000 small business grant from Chase Bank.
“The grant absolutely helped us achieve the next step in our dream,” said Marty. “We’ve been able to hire more staff, purchase more inventory, get specialized machinery. It allowed us to take huge steps forward much much faster.” (Read how UsedCardboardBoxes.com uses email marketing to promote their products, and watch the video profile produced by Chase.)
As a small business owner, you probably didn’t start your own company based purely on financial reasons. Money certainly isn’t everything – but it does help.
In the last couple of years, big companies have come out with contests and programs that offer financial support and other resources to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Nearly any small business can apply; submission requirements vary, but typically ask you to explain your business and what you plan to do with the grant money.
Here are a few contests worth checking out:
1. American Small Business Championship
The American Small Business Championship is organized by small business association SCORE and warehouse giant Sam’s Club. More than 100 U.S.-based small businesses (two from each state, including the District of Columbia) will win a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, an all-expenses-paid trip to a regional business symposium, and a year of free mentoring from SCORE. Deadline: February 6, 2015. Submission requirements: Written entry or video.
2. FedEx Think Bigger
The grand prize winner of the FedEx Think Bigger contest will get a hefty $25,000 small business grant. One second-place winner will get $10,000 and eight third-place winners will get $5,000 each. Previous winners include a farm that produces goat’s milk caramel sauces and a maker of custom-designed Moroccan accessories. Deadline: February 12, 2015. Submission requirements: Written entry, photos and optional video.
3. Tap the Future
Beer brand Miller is getting into the small business movement with its second Tap the Future business competition. Entrants participate in live, local events to claim part of the $300,000 prize pool, and can also win access to mentors like Daymond John from ABC’s “Shark Tank,” also a contest judge. Deadline: Contest opens in February 2015; check mltapthefuture.com for updates.
4. Mission Main Street Grants
One the biggest ongoing grant programs, Mission Main Street Grants by Chase is awarding $3 million in the form of 20 small business grants at $150,000 each. (UsedCardboardBoxes.com entered – and won – in 2012.) Deadline: The current contest is closed and winners will be announced this month; check missionmainstreetgrants.com for updates.
5. Love Our Local Business
Supported by Intuit, Love Our Local Business is making “wishes” come true for 15 small businesses. Participants submit a business “wish” (what they want to do with $5,000) and Intuit will make it happen for the winners. Deadline: The current contest is closed, but you can sign up to get notified of their next program at loveourlocalbusiness.com.
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