Government Assistance for Entrepreneurs

By Melissa Hudak, writer
Feb 18, 2011
Image Credit: Monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images

Government grants and loans for small business: reality or fantasy?

We've all heard it; Government Assistance for Entrepreneurs is out there! The government gives out piles of money to small business owners. Free for the asking--government grants for entrepreneurship, government grants small business owners can use for start up costs!

Is it true? The short answer is "no". The government isn't in the business of giving grants to small businesses. Government assistance to small business comes in other, less tangible, forms, so don't be too optimistic.

But don't panic either. There are other kinds of government assistance for entrepreneurs, if you know where to look.

1. Some money is available, but it doesn't come in the form of US government grants for small business. Think loans, and you might have some options.

2. Some entrepreneurs assistance is available in the form of useful, free information for small business owners.

3. Don't be scared of the government. They really do want to help you. It's just that government assistance for small business comes in less monetary shows of assistance for entrepreneurs.

Most government grants for entrepreneurship are only offered to small research and development firms

Websites and infomercials claim that the government is just thrilled to give free government grants to small business owners. Individuals expect government assistance. Small business owners may expect the same, but you should realize that this is normally not the case. However, there is some money available, through loans, if you meet the government's criteria.
government's site on small business government grants and loans to find out details and whether or not your firm may qualify for a grant, if you are in the scientific research and development industry. Loans for many small businesses are available from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA); check their eligibility requirements. If you live in a rural area, you might be able to apply for another sort of loan; see the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA's) website on rural development Business and Industry Guaranteed Loans.

Some government assistance for entrepreneurs is available online in free guides and information

It may be discouraging to realize that there are no government grants for small business; however, entrepreneurs assistance is still available, if not in the form you had hoped for.
Advertising and Marketing. If you are thinking of opening a franchise, get information from the government's Franchises and Business Opportunities website. Scared that the next natural disaster or national emergency will impact your business? See the government's site on Emergency PreparednessLaws and regulations can be confusing for an entrepreneur; see the goverment's site on Business Law for help with legal matters.

Other government agencies can offer entrepreneurs assistance

Seek out other government agencies that can help with your small business questions.
Small Business Gateway. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has information on their Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization website. Try the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship and the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee; they also have useful information for small businesses.
  • If you need to contact the government for any reason, try email if you aren't facing an emergency situation. Often phone calls go unreturned, but emails usually are answered.
  • Joining a small business association, such as the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship may be helpful in learning about government-related assistance for your business.
  • Does the website promising you help with goverment funding have a URL ending in .gov? If it doesn't, then it isn't an official goverment website. Be careful!
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