Insights from our Small Business Webinar series
Funding expert Kedma Ough helps entrepreneurs find ways to support their small businesses – through grants, loans, and other targeted funding sources available from local, state, federal, private and even crowd-funded programs.
So what is targeted funding? Kedma Ough, funding expert, and winner of the SBA Small Business Champion of the Year Award answered that question in our May 27 Small Business Webinar, “Find alternative funding for your business now,” with Host Julie Hyman of Yahoo Finance.
Ough says target funding is about identifying and investigating those alternative funding opportunities based on unique variables associated with your business. “Imagine that finding money is like eating a pizza pie,” Ough suggests. “You’re not going to eat the whole thing yourself, you’re going to cut it into slices. That’s the way I see target funding, as not one pie, but twelve slices that allow you to target where to find money.”
But before you can find these different sources, you have to understand how to play the game. “If you’ve ever played chess, the reality is you have to know every single piece and what they do, and you have to figure out the board,” Ough says.
Figuring out the board when it comes to target funding, she says, starts with understanding your unique variables as a small business owner. “If you can isolate the variables, then you can find funding,” she notes.
Those variables may be geographic, demographic, tied to your business size or the stage of your business, or even things like your industry sector, innovation plans, mission and impact. There are opportunities for female, minority, and veteran-owned small businesses, for example. Or for disaster relief. The list is bountiful.
“In my world, PPP and EIDL loans only tap into one [pie slice] where you can get money. There are many others,” adds Ough.
Funding is typically awarded based on businesses who meet those variables, along with other specific criteria that guide the grantee’s focus and mission.
For example, a female veteran who owns a cybersecurity business in Los Angeles has several variables she can tap into when searching for funding: those that support women-owned businesses, veterans, cybersecurity-focused businesses, as well as any L.A.- or California-specific opportunities. There are likely others.
For each variable you identify, you have an opportunity to search out funding that supports businesses like yours.
You also have to be prepared to act fast, says Ough. “You need to prepare your game. Because when the money comes, it’s game on and you have to apply quickly.”
Unlike larger government grants, which can require dozens of pages of work, applications for some of these opportunities may be just a few pages long, though many have to be turned around in a short period of time. Sometimes as little as 48 hours.
Getting ready means making sure you’ve put together your business plan and pitch, that you have outlined a defined team, infrastructure and legal support; that you have information readily available about your product or business idea, such as your prototype, patient, or sales sheet; that you gather your sales and customer base statistics, and be ready to supply your credit score and collateral information. Being able to provide customer testimonials and information about your existing partnerships can only help.
And of course, knowing your businesses’ unique value proposition is absolutely key.
Being prepared also means researching the companies you’re targeting for funding and looking for alignment. “If your mission is not congruent with their mission, you’re not going to get the money,” Ough says.
Making sure you’ll spend any money you receive in accordance with the grantee’s guidelines is another important bit of insight Ough offers, along with this parting advice: “Get your variables in place, decide what you want the money for, then target the organization. From there you’re going to start to create a roadmap of what you need to help your business grow. You’ll need to do your homework.”
To help you get started, Ough offers a list of resources you can use to search for targeted, alternative funding opportunities for your small business . Access the playback of the webinar and list in our playback of the Verizon Small Business Webinar Series.