We made a post about this back in January 2022, but here is an update – we find a lot of regional and local grant opportunities being offered to small business owners as funding from the American Rescue Plan Act continues to trickle down to state and local levels.
We keep this spreadsheet updated daily with new opportunities that we find.
Kat Weaver completed the Women’s Entrepreneurship certificate program in early 2020 and just wrote in to tell us how much she learned and how it helped propel her to start her second company, Power To Pitch.Kat wanted to share some of her wisdom with the students in our program and we are so thankful that she graciously agreed to let us post her advice on our website. Kat states:
Are you making these pitch presentation mistakes?
If you’ve positioned yourself for an opportunity in front of an investor, retailer, or to pitch at a business competition you might only have one chance to make a lasting impression.
I’ve seen the same mistakes made over and over, essentially costing great business ideas and their owners, funding, partnerships, and opportunities.
My name is Kat and I’m the founder of Power to Pitch. I started my first business, Locker Lifestyle in college after being a victim of theft. I had no money to launch so I entered every pitch competition I could find, eventually winning all 22 of them.
After receiving hundreds of questions from individuals asking how I won six figures worth of equity-free funding, I founded Power To Pitch to help entrepreneurs build the confidence to pitch themselves to success.
Here are my top tips to get yourself ahead of the competition:
LEAD WITH YOUR STORY, WHY, OR INSPIRATION: I see most entrepreneurs lead with the explanation of their product or service which does not hook or emotionally connect with the audience. I coach every business owner I work with to start with their story. Whether it’s a grant judge, investor or retailer you’re looking to impress, think of the number of pitches they hear all day. What will stick out? Think – they’re investing in YOU as an individual before your business.
TALK COMPETITION. Most business owners are afraid to bring up their top competitors. Instead, think of this as an opportunity to put yourself ahead. I don’t recommend outright bashing who they are and what they do. Instead, talk about their core offerings, THEN lead into how you’re better. Be as specific as possible to showcase that you’re aware of the market you serve.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THE MONEY? One of the biggest mistakes I see is the lack of specificity when talking about the allocation of funding. If you’re pitching for a grant or to an investor, they will want to know EXACTLY what you need the money for and how it will be used. For example, if you’re applying for a $10k grant and you say “we need it for marketing, web development, and packaging”, you’ve already lost your audience. You need to be as specific as possible when describing your business needs. The more detail you can give, the more confidence they will have in you. Instead, say something along the lines of “we need $2,500 for ad spend in Facebook marketing to reach x demographic in x time with a goal ROAS of x. We need $5,400 to hire a developer to optimize the homepage and checkout of our website to optimize our sales funnel for x amount of customers driven to our site each month.” and so on.
There is no EXACT formula to writing a pitch, but by avoiding these mistakes, you are already ahead of the competition!
Many thanks to Kat for sharing her wisdom with us and allowing us to post it on our site. If you want to learn more about Kat and her pitch competition tips, head to www.powertopitch.com.
On Tuesday, October 20, 2020 at 1pm ET, The Chattery will be hosting a free online workshop entitled “Leveraging Crowdfunding to Launch & Grow Your Business“. The workshop will feature Olivia Owens, Head of Partnerships at IFundWomen and General Manager of IFundWomen of Color, who will share how to create a honed pitch, network map, and marketing strategy for your crowdfunding campaign. To learn more and register, click here.
Olivia Owens worked with eCornell to deliver a webinar in August on “Raising Capital During A Crisis” through the use of crowdfunding. A link to that recording can be found here.
The Chattery is a nonprofit organization that provides adult education through fun, affordable and accessible classes and workshops and is offering this workshop for free in conjunction with Startup Week Chattanooga. Shawanda Mason is a co-founder of The Chattery and is a graduate of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Certificate program at Cornell! Many thanks to Shawanda for making us aware of this event and enabling us to share it with the broader community!
Bank of America has put together a web page with resources for small businesses that are grappling with the challenges stemming from COVID-19 shutdowns. Included on this page is a link to Facebook’s Small Business Grant program. Facebook stated that they will be providing $100 million in grants and credits to 30,000 small businesses and application information will be posted soon.
The Paycheck Protection Program is a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020. More information can be found here.
Despite women owning 40% of all the businesses in the U.S., in 2018, less than 2 percent of women-owned businesses generated more than $1 million in sales (and that percentage is even lower when you only look at women of color). This article in Entrepreneur explores ten common mistakes that include: trying to do it all yourself, not spending enough time working with mentors and coaches, lack of a cash runway and not understanding the scalable aspects of the business.
This post from May 2019 in Forbes and this post from May 2016 in Entrepreneur both share useful tips for what to focus on when you are managing your cash as you launch your business. Nothing you probably don’t already know – it is important to have goals, spend wisely, reduce overhead, etc but useful to skim through to make sure you are doing all you can to effectively manage this critical resource!