By Mel Aanerud

Former Assistant District Director of the United States Small Business Administration

There are people who do late night television paid programming and others that do seminars telling the American public that there is free government money to help small business.  Some will even go so far as to say that when you contact the government agency they will tell you that there is none and that you must be persistent.

When the Government Provides Money to Help Small Businesses

Well they are right; the government does provide grants to help small businesses.

The Small Business Administration’s budget includes grant money for Small Business Developments Centers. There are eight in Minnesota and those eight have numerous sub-centers, all designed to provide counseling and training to small business and prospective small business owners, to help them be successful.

The Small Business Administration provides grant money to SCORE, an organization of volunteers with seven chapters and many branch offices in Minnesota. They are experienced business people who volunteer their time to counsel and train small business and prospective small business owners.

The Small Business Administration provides grant money to Women Business Centers, to Micro-lenders, to small business investment companies, to the small business research and innovation program.

The SBA provides this money to groups who in turn provide invaluable service to thousands of small business and prospective small business owners; to help them be successful.

When the Government Doesn’t Provide Money to Small Businesses

The Small Business Administration does not provide money directly to small business owners, even if they are women, veterans, minorities, the incarcerated, the recently released or any other sub-group that one might think of.

If the government had enough money to provide grants to everyone who wanted to start a business, individual taxes would be significantly higher, we would have significantly more small businesses than there would be markets, the economy would be in disarray and we would cease to be a free market economy.

Regardless of what these late night television people or those motivational speakers tell you, the only grant for them is the money innocent people spend buying their books and seminars.

How to Get Money to Help with Your Small Business

If you have a viable business plan, the established money sources will be willing to lend you money.

If you do not meet all the credit requirements of the private financing group, the Small Business Administration can help by providing a guaranty (not unlike insurance) to the financing group to help them be more liberal in their lending policy.

If you want good information; I would suggest contacting any of the groups outlined above, your local initiative fund, your local banker and/or the State of Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development provide an excellent free publication called A Guide to Starting a Business in Minnesota which can probably answer all of your questions.

There are more good free services in Minnesota for small business owners or prospective small business owners than in most states, but there is no free money. It is indeed a contradiction in terms.