Seeking Seed Money

Grants for starting a small business are available through a variety of local sources. Here's how to get them.

to those applying for a grant:

  • Begin by introducing your organization
  • Write a compelling needs statement and include current data on the problem as well as the demographics of the people to be served
  • Describe how the funds will be used
  • Create measurable objectives that speak to who is being served, when, and for how long
  • Emphasize the basic, beneficial changes the project will bring about
  • Call in your chips. Ask for at least three letters of support from other organizations, local business owners, and elected officials to go along with your proposal, advises Browning.

Reaping The Rewards
For Glenn Milus, the thrill wasn’t as much about the $20,000 grant he was awarded as it was about winning, period. In 2004, Milus and his business partner, Reid Rogers, were the West Coast winners of the Miller Urban Entrepreneurs Series Business Plan Competition.

Winning gave Milus and Rogers confirmation, affirmation, that they had business skills. After all, they had already successfully launched MindLab Business Solutions in Century City, California, in late 2001. MindLab offers business plan writing along with a host of services such as financial planning, estate planning, budgeting, risk management, and tax planning to individuals and corporations. “Entering the competition was a gut check. We write business plans for clients. We wanted to see how we measured up. We were confident we would win,” says Milus.

Milus, 29, and Rogers, 28, are optimists. They had only two weeks from the time they heard about the competition until the deadline. They had started a business plan but still had a lot of work to do, and in very short order. The nearly 30-page document included, among other things, a company description, marketing analysis, competitive environment report, management team summary, and a set of financial statements.

They impressed the judges on the regional level and moved on to the national level where they had to present to judges who were mock investors and who grilled them relentlessly. Three weeks later, Milus and Rogers learned they were winners. In May of last year, they were among those feted at Miller Brewing Co.’s headquarters in Milwaukee with a dinner and awards ceremony. “What I remember most about that evening was the Miller assembly line workers who told us how proud they were of us, how inspired they were to see two young black men trying to do something positive,” says Milus.

According to Milus, having been successful at finding financing the first time was an incredible experience. The impact of the $20,000 was significant. “It helped us make exponential growth in our business,” says Milus, who has three employees.

Milus and Rogers used the proceeds to develop collateral material and a high-end, top quality brochure for their firm, something that would attract the attention of high-net-worth individuals and those in the entertainment and sports industries. When the partners met with officials from the NBA to discuss doing business together, the officials requested about 30 of their new brochures to distribute to the teams. Furthermore, to stay competitive and ensure the best services to their clients,

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