Grant Proposal Writing, Planning, and Research for Outreach Missions
Grant Proposal Writing Introduction
Grant Proposal Writing
Special Proclamation Prayer for Today
Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
Your Word declares that if we, Your people, who are called by Your
name, will humble ourselves and pray and seek Your face and turn
from our wicked ways, then will You hear from heaven and You will
forgive our sin and will heal our land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14)
We bow before Your sacred throne and humbly ask Your
forgiveness for the sin of idolatry! Your word demands; “Thou shalt
have no other gods before Me”, yet we have, under the banner of
pluralism and hedonism, embraced and worshipped the gods of
this world. Take us back to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
Through moral and spiritual compromise and complacency, we have
allowed our nation to conform to the ways of the world by turning
away from our spiritual roots found in Your Word.
Our silence has produced a secular nation and all nations that forget
You, shall be forsaken. We ask that You hear our cry, for we need
You, in these desperate times, to lead us out of our politically correct
fog of constant confusion and take us back to Your moral clarity.
O Lord our God, King of the Universe, we confess that America
cannot survive without Your presence. Your statutes founded this
blessed land and we look to You, Father God, to preserve it, for
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”
As commanded in scripture, we pray for all who are in authority
who govern our nation; may their decisions be led by the perfect
compass of your Holy Word which clearly discerns right from wrong.
(I Timothy 2:1-3)
O Lord our God, You have promised to raise up righteous leaders
into high places and to remove those who have displayed unrighteous
authority. We earnestly pray that You will once again exalt the
righteous and expose the deeds of the ungodly.
America must have spiritual renewal for moral survival! In this
season of prayer, we unite in humble heartfelt hope and ask that You
forgive us and deliver us from the folly of our transgressions. Guide
and sustain our nation as we turn from our sin and return to You,
the God of our fathers. (Psalm 51:1-17)
The time has come to declare our trust in You to heal our land.
(2 Samuel 22:2-4; Psalm 5:11-12; Psalm 57:1-3)
We pledge to exercise our God given rights of “life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness” in voting for future leaders from the county
courthouse to the White House who obey and honor Your Word.
(Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Psalm 119:44-48; Psalm5:11)
We pledge to vote the Bible in selecting those that will govern our
country. (Deuteronomy 16:18-20)
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, for You are good and Your mercy
endures forever. We petition heaven with our united prayers as we
seek Your blessing, Your peace and Your protection for America.
(I Chronicles 16:34; Numbers 6:22-26; Romans 15:13;
May the Lord our God, be with us, as He was with our forefathers;
may He not leave us or forsake us; so that He may incline our hearts
to Himself, to walk in all His ways... that all peoples of the earth may
know that the Lord is God and that there is no other.
(1 Kings 8:57-60)
Grant Proposal Writing – A Short Course
The subject of this short course is grant proposal writing. But the
proposal does not stand alone.
It must be part of a process of planning and of research on, outreach to,
and cultivation of potential foundation and corporate donors.
This process is grounded in the conviction that
a partnership should develop between the nonprofit and the donor. When you spend a great deal of your time
seeking money, it is hard to remember that it can also be difficult to give money away. In fact, the dollars
contributed by a foundation or corporation have no value until they are attached to solid programs in the
nonprofit sector. This truly is an ideal partnership. The
nonprofits have the ideas and the capacity to
solve problems, but no dollars with which to implement them. The foundations and corporations have the financial
resources but not the other resources needed to create grant programs. Bring the two together effectively, and
the result is a dynamic collaboration. You need to follow a step-by-step process in the search for private dollars.
It takes time and persistence to succeed. After you have written a grant proposal, it could take as long as a year
to obtain the funds needed to carry it out. And even a perfectly written grant proposal submitted to the right
prospect might be rejected for any number of reasons. Raising
funds is an investment in the future Your aim should
be to build a network of foundation and corporate funders, many of which give small gifts on a fairly steady basis
and a few of which give large, periodic grants. By doggedly pursuing the various steps of the process, each year
you can retain most of your regular supporters and strike a balance with the comings and goings of larger grant donors.
The recommended process is not a formula to be rigidly adhered to. It is a suggested approach that can be adapted
to fit the needs of any nonprofit and the peculiarities of each situation.
Fundraising is an art as well as a science. You must bring your own creativity to it and remain flexible.
Gathering Background Information
The first thing you will need to do in writing the master grant
proposal is to gather the documentation for it.
You will require background documentation in three areas: concept, program, and expenses. If all of this
information is not readily available to you, determine who will help you gather each type of information. If you are
part of a small nonprofit with no staff, a knowledgeable board member will be the logical choice. If you are in a
larger agency, there should be program and financial support staff who can help you.
Once you know with whom to talk, identify the questions to ask.
This data-gathering process makes the actual grant writing much
easier. And by involving other stakeholders in the process, it
also helps key people within your agency seriously
consider the project's value to the organization.
It is important that you have a good sense of how the project
fits into the philosophy and mission of your agency.
The need that the grant proposal is addressing must also be documented. These concepts must be well-articulated
in the proposal. Funders want to know that a project reinforces the overall direction of an organization, and they may
need to be convinced that the case for the project is compelling. You should collect background data on your
organization and on the need to be addressed so that your arguments are well-documented.
Here is a check list of the program information you require:
· the nature of the project and how it will be conducted;
· the timetable for the project;
· the anticipated outcomes and how best to evaluate the results;
· staffing and volunteer needs, including deployment of existing staff and new hires.
You will not be able to pin down all the expenses associated
with the grant project until the program details and timing
have been worked out. Thus, the main financial data gathering takes place after the narrative part of the master grant
proposal has been written. However, at this stage you do need to sketch out the broad outlines of the budget to be
sure that the costs are in reasonable proportion to the outcomes you anticipate. If it appears that the costs
will be prohibitive, even with a foundation grant, you should then scale back your plans or adjust them to remove the
least cost-effective expenditures.
Components of a Grant Proposal
Executive Summary: umbrella statement of your case and
summary of the entire proposal-1 page
Statement of Need: why this project is necessary-2 pages
Project Description: nuts and bolts of how the project
will be implemented and evaluated-3 pages
Budget: Financial description of the grant project plus
explanatory notes-1 page
Organization Information: History and governing structure of the nonprofit; its primary activities,
audiences, and services-1 page
Conclusion: Summary of the grant proposal's main points-2
The Executive Summary
This first page of the grant proposal is the most important section
of the entire document. Here you will provide the reader
with a snapshot of what is to follow. Specifically, it summarizes all of the key information and is a sales
document designed to convince the reader that this project should be considered for support.
Be certain to include:
Problem — a brief statement of the problem or need your
agency has recognized and is prepared to address
(one or two paragraphs);
Solution — a short description of the grant project, including
what will take place and how many people will benefit
from the program, how and where it will operate, for how long, and who will staff it (one or two paragraphs);
Funding requirements— an explanation of the amount of
grant money required for the project and what your plans
are for funding it in the future (one paragraph); and
Organization and its expertise— a brief statement of the
name, history, purpose, and activities of your agency,
emphasizing its capacity to carry out this proposal (one
The Statement of Need If the funder reads beyond the
executive summary, you have successfully piqued his or
her interest. Your next task is to build on this initial interest in our project by enabling the funder to understand
the problem that the project will remedy. The statement of need will enable the reader to learn more about the
issues. It presents the facts and evidence that support the need for the grant project and establishes that your nonprofit
understands the problems and therefore can reasonably address them. The information used to support the case can come
from authorities in the field, as well as from your agency's own experience. You want the need section to be succinct,
yet persuasive. Like a good debater, you must assemble all the
arguments. Then present them in a logical sequence that
will readily convince the reader of their importance. As you marshall your arguments, consider the following six points.
First, decide which facts or statistics best support the
grant project. Be sure the data you present are accurate.
There are few things more embarrassing than to have the funder tell you that your information is out of date or incorrect.
Information that is too generic or broad will not help you develop a winning argument for your project. Information
that does not relate to your organization or the project you are presenting will cause the funder to question the
entire grant proposal. There also should be a balance between the information presented and the scale of the program.
Second, give the reader hope. The picture you paint
should not be so grim that the solution appears
hopeless. The funder will wonder whether an investment in a solution will be worthwhile. Here's an example of a
solid statement of need: "Breast cancer kills. But statistics prove that regular check-ups catch most breast cancer
in the early stages, reducing the likelihood of death. Hence, a program to encourage preventive check-ups will reduce
the risk of death due to breast cancer. "Avoid overstatement and overly emotional appeals.
Third, decide if you want to put your grant project forward as a model. This could expand the base of potential funders,
but serving as a model works only for certain types of projects. Don't try to make this argument if it doesn't
really fit. Funders may well expect your agency to follow through with a replication plan if you present your
project as a model. If the decision about a model is affirmative, you should document how the problem you
are addressing occurs in other communities. Be sure to explain how your solution could be a solution for others as well.
Fourth, determine whether it is reasonable to portray the need as acute. You are asking the funder to pay more
attention to your grant proposal because either the problem you address is worse than others or the solution you propose
makes more sense than others. Here is an example of a balanced but weighty statement: "Drug abuse is a national
problem. Each day, children all over the country die from drug overdose. In the South Bronx the problem is worse. More
children die here than any place else. It is an epidemic. Hence, our drug prevention program is needed more in
the South Bronx than in any other part of the city."
Fifth, decide whether you can demonstrate that your
program addresses the need differently or better
than other projects that preceded it. It is often difficult to describe the need for your project without being critical
of the competition. But you must be careful not to do so. Being critical of other nonprofits will not be well received
by the funder. It may cause the funder to look more carefully at your own project to see why you felt you had to build
your case by demeaning others. The funder may have invested in these other projects or may begin to consider them, now
that you have brought them to their attention. If possible, you should make it clear that you are cognizant of,
and on good terms with, others doing work in your field. Keep
in mind that today's funders are very interested in
collaboration. They may even ask why you are not collaborating
with those you view as key competitors. So at the least you
need to describe how your work complements, but does not duplicate, the work of others.
Sixth, avoid circular reasoning. In circular reasoning,
you present the absence of your solution as the
actual problem. Then your solution is offered as the way to solve the problem. For example, the circular reasoning
for building a community swimming pool might go like this: "The problem is that we have no pool in our community.
Building a pool will solve the problem." A more persuasive case would cite what a pool has meant to a neighboring
community, permitting it to offer recreation, exercise, and physical therapy programs. The statement might refer to
a survey that underscores the target audience's planned usage of the facility and conclud with the connection between
the proposed usage and potential benefits to enhance life in the community. The statement of need does not have to
be long and involved. Short, concise information captures the reader's attention.
The Grant Project Description
This section of your proposal should have five subsections:
Together, objectives and methods dictate staffing and administrative requirements. They then become the
focus of the evaluation to assess the results of the project. The grant project's sustainability flows directly from its
success, hence its ability to attract other support. Taken together, the five subsections present an interlocking
picture of the total project.
Objectives are the measurable outcomes of the program. They
define your methods. Your objectives must be tangible,
specific, concrete, measurable, and achievable in a specified time period. Grantseekers often confuse objectives with goals,
which are conceptual and more abstract. For the purpose of illustration, here is the goal of a project with a subsidiary
Goal: Our after-school program will help children read better.
Objective: Our after-school remedial education program will
assist 50 children in improving their reading scores
by on grade level as demonstrated on standardized reading tests
administered after participating in the program for
six months. The goal in this case is abstract: improving reading, while the objective is much more specific.
It is achievable in the short term (six months) and measurable (improving 50 children's reading scores by one grade
level). With competiton for dollars so great, well-articulated objectives are increasingly critical to a proposal's
Using a different example, there are at least four types
1. Behavioral — A human action is anticipated.
Example: Fifty of the 70 children participating will learn to
2. Performance — A specific time frame within which a
behavior will occur, at an expected proficiency level, is
Example: Fifty of the 70 children will learn to swim within six
months and will pass a basic swimming proficiency test
administered by a Red Cross-certified lifeguard.
3. Process — The manner in which something occurs is an
end in itself.
Example: We will document the teaching methods utilized,
identifying those with the greatest success.
4. Product — A tangible item results.
Example: A manual will be created to be used in teaching
swimming to this age and proficiency group in the future.
In any given proposal, you will find yourself setting forth one or more of these types of objectives, depending on the
nature of your project. Be certain to present the objectives very clearly. Make sure that they do not become lost in
verbiage and that they stand out on the page. You might, for example, use numbers,
bullets, or indentations to denote the objectives in the text.
Above all, be realistic in setting objectives. Don't
promise what you can't deliver. Remember, the funder will want to be told in the final report that the project actually
accomplished these objectives.
By means of the objectives, you have explained to the funder
what will be achieved by the project. The methods section
describes the specific activities that will take place to
achieve the objectives. It might be helpful to divide
our discussion of methods into the following:
How: This is the detailed description of what will occur
from the time the project begins until it is completed.
Your methods should match the previously stated objectives.
When: The methods section should present the order and timing for the tasks. It might make sense to provide a
timetable so that the reader does not have to map out the sequencing on his or her own....
The timetable tells the reader "when" and provides another
summary of the project that supports the rest of the
Why: You may need to defend your chosen methods,
especially if they are new or unorthodox. Why will the
planned work lead to the outcomes you anticipate? You can answer this question in a number of ways, including
using expert testimony and examples of other projects that work. The methods section enables the reader to
visualize the implementation of the project. It should convince the reader that your agency knows what it is doing,
thereby establishing its credibility.
In describing the methods, you will have mentioned staffing for
the project. You now need to devote a few sentences to
discussing the number of staff, their qualifications, and
specific assignments. Details about individual staff
members involved in the project can be included either as part of this section or in the appendix, depending on the
length and importance of this information.
"Staffing" may refer to volunteers or to consultants, as well as to paid staff. Most proposal writers do not develop
staffing sections for projects that are primarily volunteer run. Describing tasks that volunteers will undertake,
however, can be most helpful to the proposal reader. Such information underscores the value added by the
volunteers as well as the cost-effectiveness of the project.
For a project with paid staff, be certain to describe
which staff will work full time and which will work part time on the project. Identify staff already employed by your
nonprofit and those to be recruited specifically for the project. How will you free up the time of an already
fully deployed individual?
Salary and project costs are affected by the
qualifications of the staff. Delineate the practical
experience you require for key staff, as well as level of expertise and educational background. If an individual
has already been selected to direct the program, summarize his or her credentials and include a brief biographical
sketch in the appendix. A strong project director can help influence a grant decision. Describe for the reader
your plans for administering the project. This is especially important in a large operation,if more than one agency
is collaborating on the project, or if you are using a fiscal agent. It needs to be crystal clear who is responsible
for financial management, project outcomes, and reporting.
An evaluation plan should not be considered only after the
project is over; it should be built into the project.
Including an evaluation plan in your proposal indicates that you take your objectives seriously and want to know how
well you have achieved them. Evaluation is also a sound management tool. Like strategic planning, it helps a
nonprofit refine and improve its program. An evaluation can often be the best means for others to learn from your
experience in conducting the project. There are two types of formal evaluation. One measures the product; the other
analyzes the process. Either or both might be appropriate to
your project. The approach you choose wil depend on
the nature of the project and its objectives. For either type, you will need to describe the manner in which evaluation
information will be collected and how the data will be analyzed. You should present your plan for how the
evaluation and its results will be reported and the
audience to which it will be directed. For example,
it might be used internally or be shared withthe funder, or it might deserve a wider audience. A funder might even
have an opinion about the scope of this dissemination.
A clear message from grantmakers today is that grantseekers will be expected to demonstrate in very concrete ways
the long-term financial viability of the project to be funded and of the nonprofit organization itself. It stands
to reason that most grantmakers will not want to take on a permanent funding commitment to a particular agency.
Rather, funders will want you to prove either that your project
is finite (with start-up and ending dates); or that
it is capacity-building (that it will contribute to the future self-sufficiency of your agency and/or enable it to
expand services that might be revenue generating); or that it will make your organization attractive to other funders
in the future. With the new trend toward adopting some of the investment principles of venture capital groups to the
practice of philanthropy, evidence of fiscal sustainability becomes a highly sought-after characteristic of the
successful grant proposal.
It behooves you to be very specific about current and projected
funding streams, both earned income and fundraised,
and about the base of financial support for your nonprofit. Here is an area where it is important to have backup
figures and prognostications at the ready, in case a prospective funder asks for these, even though you are
unlikely to include this information in the actual grant proposal. Some grantmakers, of course, will want to
know who else will be receiving a copy of this same proposal. You should not be shy about sharing this information
with the funder.
The budget for your proposal may be as simple as a one-page
statement of projected expenses. Or your proposal may
require a more complex presentation, perhaps including a page on projected support and revenue and notes explaining
various items of expense or of revenue.
As you prepare to assemble the budget, go back through the
proposal narrative and make a list of all personnel
and nonpersonnel items related to the operation of the project. Be sure that you list not only new costs that will be
incurred if the project is funded but also any ongoing expenses for items that will be allocated to the project. Then
get the relevant costs from the person in your agency who is responsible for keeping the books. You may need to
estimate the proportions of your agency's ongoing expenses that should be charged to the project and any new costs, such
as salaries for project personnel not yet hired. Put the costs you have identified next to each item on your list.
PutYour list of budget items and the calculations you
have done to arrive at a dollar figure for each item
should be summarized on worksheets. You should keep these to remind yourself how the numbers were developed. These
worksheets can be useful as you continue to develop the proposal and discuss it with funders; they are also a
valuable tool for monitoring the project once it is under way and for reporting after completion of the grant. A
portion of a worksheet for a year-long project might look like this:
Item Description Cost
Executive director Supervision 10% of salary = $10,000
25% benefits = $ 2,500
Project director Hired in month one 11 months at $35,000 =
$32,083, 25% benefits = $ 8,025
12 working 10 hours per week for three months
12 x 10 x 13 x $ 4.50 = $ 7,020
Office Requires 25% of 25% x $20,000 = $ 5,000
Overhead 20% of project cost 20% x $64,628 = $12,926
With your worksheets in hand, you are ready to prepare the
expense budget. For most projects, costs should be grouped
into subcategories, selected to reflect the critical areas of
expense. All significant costs should be broken out
within the subcategories, but small ones can be combined on one line. You might divide your expense budget into
personnel and nonpersonnel costs; your personnel subcategories might include salaries, benefits, and consultants.
Subcategories under nonpersonnel costs might include travel, equipment, and printing, for example, with a dollar
figure attached to each line.
Support and Revenue and Statement
For the typical project, no support and revenue statement is
necessary. The expense budget represents the amount
of grant support required. But if grant support has already been awarded to the project, or if you expect project
activities to generate income, a support and revenue statement is the place to provide this information. In itemizing
grant support, make note of any earmarked grants; this will suggest how new grants may be allocated.
The total grant support already committed should then be
deducted from the “Total Expenses” line on the expense
budget to give you the “Amount to Be Raised” or the “Balance
Requested.”Any earned income anticipated should be
estimated on the support and revenue statement. For instance, if you expect 50 people to attend your performance on each of
the four nights, it is given at $10 a ticket, and if you hope that 20 of them will buy the $5 souvenir book each
night, you would show two lines of income, “Ticket Sales” at $2,000 and “Souvenir Book Sales” at $400. As with the
expense budget, you should keep backup worksheets for the support anddsrevenue statement to remind yourself of
the assumptions you have made.
A narrative portion of the budget is used to explain any unusual line items in the budget and i not always
needed. If costs are straightforward and the numbers tell the story clearly,explanations are redundant.
If you decide a budget narrative is needed, you can structure it in one of two ways. You can create "Notes to the
Budget," with footnote-style numbers on the line items in the budget keyed to numbered explanations. If an extensive
or more general explanation is required, you can structure the budget narrative as straight text. Remember though, the
basic narrative about the project and your organization belong elsewhere in the proposal, not in the budget narrative.
Organizational Information and Conclusion
Normally a resume of your nonprofit organization should come at
the end of your proposal. Your natural inclination
may be to put this information up front in the document. But it is usually better to sell the need for your project
and then your agency's ability to carry it out. It is not necessary to overwhelm the reader with facts about
your organization. This information can be conveyed easily by
attaching a brochure or other prepared statement. In
two pages or less, tell the reader when your nonprofit came into existence; state its mission, being certain
to demonstrate how the subject of the proposal fits within or
extends that mission; and describe the organization's
structure, programs, and special expertise. Discuss the size of the board, how board members are recruited, and their
level of participation. Give the reader a feel for the makeup of the board. (You should include the full board list
in an appendix.) If your agency is composed of volunteers or has an active volunteer group, describe the function
that the volunteers fill. Provide details on the staff, including the numbers of full and part-time staff, and their
levels of expertise. Describe the kinds of activities in which your staff engage. Explain briefly the assistance you
provide. Describe the audience you serve, any special or unusual needs they face, and why they rely on your
agency. Cite the number of people who are reached through your programs. Tying all of the information about your
nonprofit together, cite your agency's expertise, especially as it relates to the subject of your proposal.
Sometimes the scale of the project might suggest a small-scale
letter format proposal, or the type of request might not
require all of the proposal components or the components in the sequence recommended here. The guidelines and policies
of individual funders will be your ultimate guide. Many funders today state that they prefer a brief letter proposal;
others require that you complete an application form. In any case, you will want to refer to the basic proposal
components as provided here to be sure that you have not omitted an element that will suppor your case.
As noted, the scale of the project will often determine
whether it requires a letter or the longer proposal
format. For example, a request to purchase a $1,000 fax machine for your agency simply does not lend itself to a lengthy
narrative. A small contribution to your agency’s annual operating budget, particularly if it is a renewal of
past support, might also warrant a letter rather than a full-scale proposal.
What are the elements of a letter request?
For the most part, they should follow the format of a full proposal, except with regard to length. The letter should
be no more than three pages. You will need to call upon your writing skills because it can be very hard to get all
of the necessary details into a concise, well-articulated letter. As to the flow of information, follow these
steps while keeping in mind that you are writing a letter
to someone. It should not be as formal in style as a
longer proposal would be. It may be necessary to change the sequence of the text to achieve the correct tone and
the right flow of information.
Here are the components of a good letter proposal:
· Ask for the gift: The letter should begin with a reference
to your prior contact with the funder, if any. State
why you are writing and how much funding is required from the particular foundation.
· Describe the need: In a very abbreviated manner, tell the
funder why there is a need for this grant project, piece of
· Explain what you will do: Just as you would in a fuller
proposal, provide enough detail to pique the funder’s
interest. Describe precisely what will take place as a result of the grant.
· Provide agency data:
Help the funder know a bit more about your organization by
including your mission statement, brief description of
programs offered, number of people served, and staff,volunteer, and board data, if appropriate.
· Include appropriate budget data:
Even a letter request may have a budget that is a half page
long. Decide if this information should be incorporated
into the letter or in a separate attachment. Whichever course you choose, be sure to indicate the total cost of the
grant project. Discuss future funding only if the absence of this information will raise questions.
As with the longer proposal, a letter proposal needs a strong
· Attach any additional information required:
The funder may need much of the same information to back up a
small request as a large one: a board list, a copy of
your IRS determination letter, financial documentation, and brief resumes of key staff. It may take as much
thought and data gathering to write a good letter request as it does to prepare a full proposal (and sometimes even
more). Don’t assume that because it is only a letter,
it isn’t a time-consuming and challenging task.
Every document you put in front of a funder says something about your agency. Each step you take with a funder
should build a relationship for the future.
Every grant proposal should have a concluding paragraph or two.
This is a good place to call attentio to the future,
after the grant is completed. If appropriate, you should outline ome of the follow-up activities that might be
undertaken to begin to prepare your funders for your next request. Alternatively, you should state how the
grant project might carry on without further grant support. This section is also the place to make a final appeal for
your project. Briefly reiterate what your nonprofit wants to do and why it is important. Underscore why your agency
needs funding to accomplish it. Don't be afraid at this stage to use a bit of emotion to solidify your case.
What Happens Next?
Submitting your proposal is nowhere near the end of your
involvement in the grantmaking process. Grant review
procedures vary widely, and the decision-making process
can take anywhere from a few weeks to six months or
more. During the review process, the funder may ask for additional information either directly from you or
from outside consultants or professional references. Invariably, this is a difficult time for the grantseeker.
You need to be patient but persistent. Some grantmakers outline their review procedures in annual reports or application
guidelines. If you are unclear about the process, don't hesitate to ask. If your hard work results in a grant,
take a few moments to acknowledge the funder's support with a letter of thanks. You also need to find out whether
the funder has specific forms, procedures, and deadlines for reporting the progress of your grant project. Clarifying
your responsibilities as a grantee at the outset, particularly with respect to financial reporting, will
prevent misunderstandings and more serious problems later.
Nor is rejection necessarily the end of the process.
If you're unsure why your grant proposal was rejected, ask. Did the funder need additional information? Would they be
interested in considering the proposal at a future date? Now might also be the time to begin cultivation of a
prospective funder. Put them on your mailing list so that they can become further acquainted with your organization.
Remember, there's always next year.
Grant Makers Reveal the Most Common Reasons Grant Proposals
Get Rejected By Marilyn Dickey
Eighty percent of the grant applications that cross Debbie Rey's desk are immediately rejected. Ms. Rey
supervises the central proposals-processing office at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, in Battle Creek, Mich., where the
bulk of the proposals to the foundation are first vetted.
The reason so many don't pass muster: The applicants
didn't do their legwork. They may have glanced at the grant maker's Web site, she says, but they didn't dig deeper
to learn Kellogg's specific grant-making priorities. "A lot of people, when they're doing research,read the philosophy
statement,but they don't go into the detail, into the different departments to see what initiatives we have going
on," she says. Ms. Rey echoes the sentiments of many grant makers: Nothing is more important when applying for
a grant than having the right information.In their haste to win money at a time when many
foundations are reducing their grant making, many charities skip over steps that could make the process go more
smoothly --and that may even make the difference between winning a grant and getting turned down. Missteps
happen all the time, including math errors and omitted contact names and numbers. Some charities take a blanket
approach, sending out a proposal to as many grant makers as they can, on the theory that one is bound to click,
says Jim Durkan, president of the Community Memorial Foundation, in Hinsdale, Ill. "They don't spend the
time upfront to really research and see if there's a match," he
says. "I always say that the time they spend researching
will be returned tenfold."
Where to Start
The first places many grant seekers think of are Web sites for
the Foundation Center, a clearinghouse of information
about grant makers with offices in New York and Washington, and
GuideStar, which gathers financial information about
foundations and charities, in Willamsburg, Va. Both of these sites have searchable online databases on grant makers.
But they are only starting points, says Katherine T. Freshley, senior program officer at the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer
Foundation, in Washington. The information on those sites is not meant to be comprehensive, she says. Only
highlights are presented, and they can be misleading if the grant seeker doesn't dig further. "Sometimes people go
to the Foundation Center site and look up funders that support in a particular area and they get wowed by the size of
many of those grants. But often the Foundation Center picks the highest grants to profile, so it skews what is normally
possible," says Ms. Freshley. "There may be a really good reason why an organization has been given a large
grant -- it may be for a capital campaign, for example."
Charities should take a look at the grant maker's
Web site, annual report, and informational tax return, she says. Those sources can hold a gold mine of information
about the foundation's assets, past grants, giving priorities, contact names, and guidelines for seeking grants.
Careful examination of an organization's Web site can help
grant seekers draw connections that may aid them in
preparing their applications, says David Littlefield, communications officer at the California Wellness
Foundation, in Woodland Hills. For instance, he says, "We have an environmental health area that some people might
not think of as health -- the impact of things like a safe work space on health."
A look at the Lilly Endowment's Web site shows that it has
geographic limits for most of its grants. "We do a
lot of education grant making, but it's virtually all in Indiana," says Gretchen Wolfram, communications
director of the foundation in Indianapolis. If, after pouring over the available information, a charity
still questions whether its programs are a good fit, it should
check with the foundation, says Andrea L. Reynolds, chief
operating officer of the Community Foundation of Greater
Memphis. Large foundations often take time for a
five-minute chat with a potential grantee. The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis will even meet face-to-face
with people who want to apply for a grant.
Once a charity identifies a foundation that's a likely prospect, carefully following the guidelines is key,
emphasizes Ms. Freshley. Rules exist for a reason, she says. "When wesay 10 pages, we're really serious
about that," she says. Some people, she says, just squeeze 12 pages' worth of type onto 10 pages by using small
type and narrow margins.
"It just makes the program officers work harder," says Ms.
Freshley. "They may be reading 250 proposals. You
don't want people to have to dig through your information to find the kernel of what you're talking about." One
sign of an amateur writer, she says, is a proposal that includes five programs that need support and asking
the foundation to take its pick. "Avoid fishing expeditions," she advises. Tailor the proposal to a particular grant
program. Just as some charities send out proposals to many foundations simultaneously, they may also blanket a
particular grant maker with applications. Instead, Ms. Rey suggests, it's best to find out who the grant
maker's contact person is and send the proposal only to that person. "Don't submit multiple copies of the same
proposal to more than one person," she advises. "Some
think it may increase the chances, but it doesn't.
It just causes confusion, and it's hard for us to keep track."
And on the application, be clear about who the
contact person is, and that the phone number and e-mail address are correct, she adds: "Sometimes several people sign
a letter and it's unclear who to contact."
Do the Math
Some common problems don't necessarily hurt a charity's chances of winning a grant. They just make the process more
time-consuming. For example, writing a grant proposal by hand is generally acceptable unless the handwriting is
illegible, says Ms. Reynolds. "We don't have problems with handwritten proposals because we are dealing with a
lot of grass-roots groups without access to computers," she says. Math mistakes in particular takes time to iron
out, says Mr. Littlefield. The California Wellness Foundation recently awarded 11 grants, of which three applications
had math problems, he says.Still, he says, calculations should be double-checked before sending out the proposal.
"It's really important to have a treasurer from the board or a finance staff member review the budget to be sure line
items are appropriate and reflect the real costs," says Mr. Littlefield. "When program staff without a strong
finance background do the work, details often get missed."
It's not enough for the math to be right, says Ms.
Reynolds -- it also needs to be realistic. If a charity submits a proposal with a three-year budget that calls for $100,000 in
the first year, $200,000 in the second, and $1-million in the third, it would give her pause. She would be taking a
closer look at how the organization has planned its programs, and how it intends to meet such lofty revenue goals,
she says: "I would be concerned about the ability to get those kinds of funds."
Proposals most likely to catch a foundation's attention
are those that convey plans to use the grant money
to bring in other money, says Jane S. Englebardt, executive director of the Hasbro Children's Foundation, in New
York. "Being able to use that money effectively is what foundations are after," she says.
A grant proposal, she says, should spell out a charity's plans for
using the grant to make the most of a charity's
resources, along the lines of: "This funding will help us match government funding," "This funding will enable us to
utilize volunteers to complement the work of professionals," or "'This will allow us to create a training program
to expand our services without asking for more money each year."
Wording is key, she says. Don't write, "We're running
out of money," but rather, "We have a wonderful program, but we want to make it more cost-effective." When it comes
to seeking grants, success breeds success. If a charity can show it has other grants, that's a plus, says Ms.
Englebardt. "National foundations look for organizations that are supported in their communities," she says, "so we
know they're going to be strong and sustainable."
Organizations with no track record have a different
challenge, she says. Startup organizations have to explain their programs in terms of how they will address some
gap-- for example, addressing an underserveing population. "Identify the gap and the service needed
to fill that gap and how you propose to deliver that service," she says.
Patience and Persistence
Foundations are often flooded with grant proposals, so it takes time
to sort through them, says Ms. Rey. The Kellogg
Foundation, she says, receives thousands of proposals each year --and it could take applicants as long as 12 weeks
to get a response. That also means that if charities want something financed by a particular time of year, they
need to start early. "A lot of times, especially on the holidays after Thanksgiving, we'll start getting
letters of support for Christmas," she says. "We're at year end, so we won't be funding those."
Grant requests are turned down for all sorts of reasons, many
of which do not reflect badly on the program, says Ms.
Englebardt. "Just because they didn't get a grant is not a
comment on the quality of their program," she says.
"The hard part is none of the foundations have the resources to fund everything that fits their guidelines. That's the
heartbreaker." "Each foundation has its own strategy about how it is trying to make a change in the world," she adds.
"They're trying to put together the pieces that make that change. And there is a certain amount of luck in being
one of those pieces in a market like this where there just isn't enough funding." Not getting a grant doesn't
necessarily mean a door has been permanently closed, says Jane C. Geever, a fund-raising consultant and author of
The Foundation Center's Guide to Proposal Writing (2001, $34.95). Charities may be able to win money during
another grant-makng cycle. In fact, it's a good idea to give the foundation a call to find out why a proposal was
rejected, she says. "Most grant makers say that if the agency is a fit, they will encourage the organization to
come back with another proposal," says Ms. Geever. "Everybody has time frames in terms of how long you have to wait.
" Even if it's unlikely the charity will get a future grant, foundations are often willing to suggest other grant
makers to which the charity might apply. When the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis declines a grant, it
sends a letter offering to talk with the applicant about the reasons. "Very few people take advantage of that," says
Ms. Reynolds. "It's surprising. "From beginning to end, grant seeking is all about good communication, says Mr. Durkan:
"It really comes down to relationships and getting to know people."
FUNDING FOR INDIVIDUALS:
A Bibliography Compiled by Janice Rosenberg
The following is a selective bibliography of publications
relevant to the individual grantseeker. The publications were
selected from a variety of sources. Entries with a descriptive
abstract were taken from the Foundation Center's bibliographic
database. The bibliography is divided into these sections:
Arts and Humanities
International Travel and Study
Media and Communications
Medicine and Health
Minorities and Special Populations
Scholarships, Fellowships, and Loans
Annual Register of Grant Support: A Directory of Funding
Sources. 36th ed. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2002.
Includes details of the grant programs of government agencies,
public and private foundations, corporations,
community trusts, unions, educational and professional
associations, and special interest organizations. Broad
subject coverage includes academic and scientific research,
project development, travel and exchange programs, publication
support, equipment and construction grants, competitive awards,
Each complete grant program description contains details of the type,
purpose, and duration of the grant; amount of funding available
for each award and for the entire program; eligibility
requirements; geographic restrictions; and the
number of applicants and recipients. Published annually.
Baynes, Louise, ed. The Grants Register 2003. 21st ed.
New York: Palgrave Macmillan LTD, 2002.
Lists awards, scholarships, and fellowships at all levels of
graduate study, from regional, national, and international sources. Includes awards, prizes, and residencies for writers, visual artists, and performing artists.
Entries provide contact information, subject, eligibility,
purpose, type, number of awards offered, frequency,
amount of award, length of study, country of study, and
application procedures. Includes subject and eligibility
guide to awards. Published annually.
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.
Executive Office of the President. Office of Management and
Budget, and General Services Administration. Washington, DC:
U.S. Government Printing Office, 2002.
Official directory of over 1,400 federal programs that
provide assistance to American organizations, institutions,
and individuals. Includes programs open to individual
applicants or for individual beneficiaries in the areas
of agriculture, commerce, community development, consumer
protection, arts and culture, education, employment, energy,
environmental quality, nutrition, health, housing, social
services, information sciences, law, natural resources,
regional development, science and technology, and transportation.
Arranged by administering agency, with indexes by applicant
eligibility, subject, and authorizing legislation. Published
annually, with a semi-annual update. URL: http://www.cfda.gov
Margolin, Judith B. The Individual's Guide to Grants. New York:
Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers,1983. An excellent starting
guide to grantseeking for individuals. Discusses finding a
sponsor or umbrella group, identifying and researching potential
funders, writing and submitting grant proposals, and following up
successful and rejected grant applications. Chapter two is
particularly useful in explaining the role of institutional
affiliation or project sponsorship.
Webster, Valerie J., ed. Awards, Honors, and Prizes.
Volume 1: United States and Canada. 21st ed. Farmington Hills,
MI: Gale Group, Inc., 2002.
Directory of approximately 21,600 awards recognizing achievement
in a wide variety of fields, including arts, business,
communications, science, and public affairs. Sponsors are
foundations, corporations, universities, nonprofit organizations, and governments. Indexed by sponsoring organization, award, and subject area.
Webster, Valerie J., ed. Awards, Honors, and Prizes.
Volume 2: International and Foreign. 21st ed.
Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, Inc., 2002.
Contains descriptions of more than 8,000 awards offered
by organizations in countries outside the U.S. and
Canada. Arranged by country, with indexes by organization,
award name, and subject area.
ARTS AND HUMANITIES
American Art Directory 2003-2004. 59th ed. New Providence,
NJ: National Register Publishing Co., 2003. Includes a section
on scholarships and fellowships awarded by colleges and
universities, art schools, and arts organizations.
Artists' Communities: A Directory of Residencies in the
United States That Offer Time and Space for Creativity.
2nd ed. New York: Allworth Press, 2000. Lists 70 nonprofit
residencies for performing and visual artists, composers,
and writers, with basic information about programs, facilities,
participants, and application procedures.
Christensen, Warren, and Ron Clawges, eds. National Directory
of Arts Internships. 9th ed. Los Angeles: National Network for
Artist Placement, 2003. Profiles 5,000 internship opportunities
offered by 1,250 host organizations. Presents a broad range of
disciplines, including arts management, dance, theater, music,
literature, film and video, photography performing arts, and
design. Entries give brief program description and eligibility
Crawford, Tad. Legal Guide for the Visual Artist. 4th ed.
New York: Allworth Press, 1999. Provides information for artists
on copyright law, sales and commissions contracts, publishing and
reproduction rights, and taxation. Includes a short section on
researching grants and contact information for artists'
organizations and state arts councils.
Directory of Grants in the Humanities 2002/2003. 16th ed.
Phoenix: Oryx Press, 2002. Directory contains more than 3,650
programs by foundations, federal and state government agencies,
corporations, and professional organizations and associations.
Indexed by subject, sponsoring organization, program type, and
geographic area. Published annually.
Grant, Daniel. The Business of Being an Artist. 3rd edition.
New York: Allworth Press, 2000.
Michels, Caroll. How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist:
Selling Yourself Without Selling Your Soul. 5th
ed. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2001.
Includes a chapter on grantseeking, and an appendix of
useful resources, including art colonies and
residencies, publications with internships and apprenticeships,
competitions, arts organizations, and an
annotated bibliography on grants and funding.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ;
Middleton, Robyn, et. al. Artists and Writers Colonies:
Retreats, Residencies, and Respites for the Creative Mind.
2nd ed. Portland, OR: Blue Heron Publishing, Inc., 2000.
Includes more than 260 programs for the U.S. and overseas.
Indexed by geographic area, with information on places for
photographers, poets, playwrights, screenwriters, fiction
and nonfiction writers, visual artists,performing artists,
scientists, journalists, and scholars. Moran-Lever, Terry,
ed. Musical America: International Directory of the
Performing Arts. East Windsor,NJ: Commonwealth Business
Media, Inc., 2003. Includes a "Contests, Foundations, and
Awards" section with information on scholarships,
fellowships, prizes, and competitions in music and dance.
Richmond, Eero, ed. Opportunities in New Music. 10th ed.
New York: The American Music Center, 2002. A listing of
ongoing American and foreign competitions, grants,
commissioning programs, workshops, calls for scores,
and artist's colonies. Includes opportunities for
performers, both individuals and ensembles, in jazz
and contemporary concert music, with subject index.
Schlachter, Gail Ann, and R. David Weber. Money for
Graduate Students in the Humanities 2001-2003. El
Dorado Hills, CA: Reference Service Press, 2001.
Wilder, Judith Luther. Breaking Through the Clutter:
Business Solutions for Women, Artists, and
Entrepreneurs. Los Angeles: National Network for Artist
Placement, 1999 A guide for artists who want to create
business plans, market their work, reach an audience,
and seek outside funding.
Americans for the Arts
Information clearinghouse that provides material on funding
for individuals in all areas of the arts.
American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers
Lists prizes and awards to composers in various areas of music.
Arts Deadlines List
Monthly Internet publication with funding opportunities
in the visual arts. BMI Foundation Awards, Scholarships,
Internships, and Funds
Describes programs established to encourage young composers
and support the work of accomplished concert-music composers
in such areas as classical music, jazz, and musical theater.
An arts service organization with the mission to assist,
advocate and encourage performing artists and visual
arts projects. Services include fiscal sponsorship and
grantwriting. Creative Capital's Artist Toolbox
A listing of career-resource sites for individual artists.
Provides information on grants that support the archiving
and preserving of the music and recorded sound
heritage of the Americas. Musical Online
A compilation of funding resources including foundations
and associations, grants, scholarships, and organizations.
National Endowment for the Arts
Provides information on fellowships in the areas of poetry,
prose, music, and the arts. New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA)
Provides information on fellowships and fiscal sponsorship
for artists. NYFA also has a listing of organizations
that operate fiscal sponsorship programs for visual artists
and a fact sheet for artists with disabilities, both
available in PDF format. The Zuzu's Petals Literary Resource
Literary site with links to a variety of grants organizations
and art councils.
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL AND STUDY
Academic Year Abroad, 2003. New York: Institute of
International Education, 2003. Includes information on more
than 2,900 semester and academic-year study abroad programs,
most sponsored by U.S. colleges and universities. Arranged
geographically, with indexes by level and field of study,
sponsor, and tuition range.
Fulbright and Related Grants for Graduate Study and Research
Abroad: 2003-2004. New York: Institute of International
Education, 2002. Describes fellowships available to U.S.
graduate students, young professionals, and artists for study
or research in over 100 foreign countries. Includes general
program description and eligibility requirements.
International Exchange Locator: A Resource Directory
for Educational and Cultural Exchange. Washington, DC:
Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange,
2002. Arranged in six sections: Organizations involved in
international exchanges, industry-specific exchanges,
research/support organizations, foreign affairs agencies
and exchange programs, other federal government
exchanges, and key congressional committees and members of
congress. Entries contain name and address of
the organization, statement of purpose, types of exchange
programs, availability of financial assistance,
geographic focus, and a list of selected publications.
Peterson's Scholarships for Study in the USA and Canada 2000.
3rd ed. Princeton, NJ: Peterson's Guides, 1999. Lists foundations, corporations, industry organizations, fraternal and ethnic organizations, community service groups, veterans' organizations, churches and other religious groups that have scholarship programs open to international applicants. Organized into ten broad categories, the entries include sponsoring organization,award name and description, eligibility requirements, application process, and contact information, including Web addresses.
Schlachter, Gail Ann, and R. David Weber. Financial Aid for
Research and Creative Activities Abroad 2002-2004. El Dorado
Hills, CA: Reference Service Press, 2002. Lists over 1,300
scholarships, fellowships, loans, grants, awards, and internships available for research, artistic, and professional pursuits abroad. Indexed by program title, sponsoring organization, geographic area, subject, and filing deadline.
Schlachter, Gail Ann, and R. David Weber. Financial Aid for
Study and Training Abroad 2001-2003. El Dorado Hills, CA:
Reference Service Press, 2001. Describes more than 1,000
financial aid programs sponsored by government agencies,
professional organizations, foundations, educational
associations, and other public and private agencies.
Includes an annotated bibliography of financial aid
directories. Indexed by program title, sponsoring
organization, geographic area, subject, and filing deadline.
Short-Term Study Abroad 2003. 53rd ed. New York: Institute
of International Education, 2003. Includes more than 2,700
programs sponsored by U.S. colleges and universities as well
as foreign universities, language schools and other
Study Abroad: Etudes a L'Etranger, Estudios en el Extranjero.
31st ed. Paris, France: United Nations Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organization, 1999. Profiles more than 2,600
international study programs in all academic and professional
fields. Includes information about financial assistance offered
by international organizations, governments, foundations,
universities and other institutions in more than 120 countries.
Indexed by organization and subject of study.
Study Abroad 2003. 9th ed. Lawrenceville, NJ: Peterson's
A complete A-Z guide to more than 1,900 overseas programs.
More Internet Sources
EduPASS! The SmartStudent Guide to Studying in the USA
Institute of International Education Online
Includes information about international education and
training programs, including Fulbright scholarships.
International Documentary Association
NAFSA: Association of International Educators
Information on financial aid for foreign nationals studying in
the United States: bibliographies and links to other
information sites. Social Science Research Council
Supports international fellowships and grant programs in
the social sciences. Study in the USA
Provides international students with information about
hundreds of colleges, universities and English-language
programs in the United States. StudyAbroad.com
Lists sources and tips on obtaining financial aid including
minority scholarships, studying in countries such as
Germany, England, Commonwealth Universities, France, and Turkey
MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS
The Journalist's Road to Success: A Career and Scholarship
Guide. Princeton, NJ: Dow Jones Newspaper Fund, 2002.
Annual guide to aid offered through schools and departments
of journalism at U.S. and Canadian colleges and
universities, by newspapers, professional societies, and
miscellaneous sources. Section on grants specifically
designed for minority students. Concludes with two-page
bibliography and index. Published annually. Available
Schlachter, Gail Ann and R. David Weber. How to Pay for
Your Degree in Journalism & Related Field 2002-2004. El
Dorado Hills, CA: Reference Service Press, 2002.
Wiese, Michael. The Independent Film and Videomaker's
Guide. 2nd ed. Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese
Productions, 1998. Chapters cover developing, distributing,
financing, and marketing of independent film and television
works. Extensive bibliography includes Web sites of interest.
More Internet Sources
Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers
Supports a variety of programs and services for the
independent media community. Independent Television Service
Funds proposals by independent producers and provides
production, promotion, marketing and distribution support.
Provides an extensive bibliography on fundraising for
independent film and video projects. National Endowment
for the Humanities
Supports learning in all areas of the humanities and
funds research and education.
MEDICINE AND HEALTH
Directory of Biomedical and Health Care Grants 2003.
17th ed. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 2003. Contains descriptions
of more than 3,000 health-related funding programs. Areas
covered include clinical and programmatic studies in gerontology
and mental health; clinical studies of the cause, detection, and
elimination of cancer; health care delivery and maintenance;
and studies of infectious and immunologic diseases, including
programs researching all areas related to AIDS. Provides each
program's requirements (including eligibility statements),
restrictions, contact information, deadlines, and funding
amounts. Contains a subject index, a sponsoring organization
index, and an index by program type. Published annually.
Medical School Admission Requirements 2003-2004, United States
and Canada. Washington, DC: Association of American Medical
Colleges, 2002. Published annually.
Schlachter, Gail Ann and R. David Weber. Money for Graduate
Students in the Biological and Health Sciences 2001-2003.
El Dorado Hills, CA: Reference Service Press, 2001. Describes
1,100 of the biggest and best fellowships, grants, and awards
available to support graduate study, training, research, or
creative activities in the biological and health sciences.
Schlachter, Gail Ann and R. David Weber. RSP Funding for
Nursing Students and Nurses 2002-2004. El Dorado Hills, CA:
Reference Service Press, 2002. A list of scholarships,
fellowships, grants, awards, loans, traineeships, and
other funding programs in support of study, training,
research, and creative activities for nursing students
MINORITIES AND SPECIAL POPULATIONS
Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents. Washington,
DC: United States Department of Veterans Affairs, 2002.
Schaffert, Tim, ed. Pathways to Career Success for Minorities:
A Resource Guide to Colleges, Financial Aid, and Work. Chicago,
IL: J.G. Ferguson Publishing Company, 2000.
Schlachter, Gail Ann and R. David Weber. Financial Aid for
African Americans, 2001-2003. El Dorado Hills, CA: Reference Service Press, 2001.
Schlachter, Gail Ann and R. David Weber. Financial Aid for
Asian Americans, 2001-2003. El Dorado Hills, CA: Reference
Service Press, 2001.
Schlachter, Gail Ann and R. David Weber. Financial Aid for
the Disabled and Their Families, 2002-2004. El Dorado Hills,
CA: Reference Service Press, 2002. Lists hundreds of scholarships,
loans, grants-in-aid, and awards from federal, state, and private
sources, arranged by disability type, with subject, geographic,
sponsor, and filing date indexes.
Schlachter, Gail Ann and R. David Weber. Financial Aid
for Hispanic Americans, 2001-2003. El Dorado Hills, CA:
Reference Service Press, 2001.
Schlachter, Gail Ann and R. David Weber. Financial Aid
for Native Americans, 2001-2003. El Dorado Hills, CA:
Reference Service Press, 2001.
Schlachter, Gail Ann, and R. David Weber. Financial Aid for
Veterans, Military Personnel and Their Dependents, 2002-2004.
El Dorado Hills, CA: Reference Service Press, 2002. Lists more
than 1,000 scholarships, grants-in-aid, loans and other benefit
programs for Americans affiliated with the military, from
federal, state, and private sources. Indexed by subject,
sponsor, geographic area, and filing deadline.
Schlachter, Gail Ann and R. David Weber. Funding for Persons
with Visual Impairments. Large print ed. El Dorado Hills, CA:
Reference Service Press, 2002.
The 2003 Hispanic Scholarship Directory. 5th ed. Carlsbad,
CA: WPR Publishing, 2002. Winds of Change Magazine's Annual
College Guide for American Indians. Boulder, CO: Winds of
Directory of Research Grants. 28th ed. Phoenix, AZ:
Oryx Press, 2003. Describes more than 5,100 grant programs
that support research projects in medicine, the physical
and social sciences, humanities and the arts, and education.
Annotations describe program requirements with eligibility
statements, program restrictions and exclusions, contacts,
deadlines, and funding amounts. Indexed by subject,
sponsoring organization, and program type
(i.e., fellowships, travel grants). Published annually.
Grants, Fellowships, and Prizes of Interest to Historians:
2000-2001. Washington, DC: American Historical Association
Publications, 2000. Describes more than 450 organizations
that grant fellowships, awards, and prizes to historians.
Includes bibliography. Available online to members of AHA
Hellebust, Lynn, ed. Think Tank Directory: A Guide to
Nonprofit Public Policy Research Organizations.2nd ed.
Topeka, KS: Government Research Service, 2001. Over 1,200
academic and independent research organizations are profiled,
with information on their purposes, policy areas, research
priorities, budgets and funding sources, publications, staff,
and governance. Includes geographic and policy area indexes.
International Research Centers Directory. 16th ed. Farmington
Hills, MI: The Gale Group, 2002. More than 8,200 government,
university, independent, nonprofit, and commercial research
and development organizations in nearly 125 countries worldwide,
indexed by name, subject, and country.
Schlachter, Gail Ann and R. David Weber. Money for Graduate
Students in the Physical and Earth Sciences 2001-2003. El
Dorado Hills, CA: Reference Service Press, 2001. Describes
800 of the biggest and best fellowships, grants, and awards
available to support graduate study, training, research, or
creative activities in the physical and earth sciences.
Schlachter, Gail Ann and R. David Weber. Money for Graduate
Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences 2001-2003.
El Dorado Hills, CA: Reference Service Press, 2001. Describes
over 1,000 of the biggest and best fellowships, grants, and
awards available to support graduate study, training, research,
or creative activities in the social sciences.
Schlachter, Gail Ann and R. David Weber. RSP Funding for
Engineering Students 2002-2004. El Dorado Hills, CA:
Reference Service Press, 2002. A list of 700 scholarships,
fellowships, loans, awards, prizes, and internships available
to undergraduate and graduate students majoring in engineering.
Wood, Donna, ed. Research Centers Directory. 30th ed. Farmington
Hills, MI: Gale Group, Inc., 2002. Guide to over 14,000
university-related and other nonprofit research organizations
in 17 broad subject areas, providing information on programs,
staffing, publications, and educational efforts. Includes
subject, geographic, personal name, and master indexes.
More Internet Sources
National Endowment for the Humanities
Supports learning in all areas of the humanities and
funds research and education. National Institutes of
Funds research and education in science and engineering
through grants, contracts and cooperative agreements.
National Science Foundation
Funds research and education in science and engineering
through grants, contracts and cooperative agreements.
Social Science Research Council
SCHOLARSHIPS, FELLOWSHIPS, AND LOANS
Cassidy, Daniel J. Dan Cassidy's Worldwide College
Scholarship Directory. 5th ed. Franklin Lakes, NJ:
Career Press, 2000.
Cassidy, Daniel J. Dan Cassidy's Worldwide Graduate
Scholarship Directory. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career
Press, 2000 Lists America's top 1,000 scholarships
for graduate and professional study plus 500 listings
from 75 other countries around the world.
Cassidy, Daniel J. The Scholarship Book 2003: The Complete
Guide to Private-Sector Scholarships, Grants, and Loans for
the Undergraduate. Paramus, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2002. Directory
of 4,000 potential sources of aid for undergraduates. Describes
scholarships awarded by foundations, associations, corporations,
unions, and fraternal organizations.
Entries include scholarship name, address, telephone number, amount of award, deadline, subject area, and a short description. Provides a list of over 300 career organizations and a bibliography. Includes indexes by major fields of study and scholarship name, and a "quick find" index for state of residence, ethnic background, physical disabilities, and state of intended study. Book also includes CD-ROM.
Chronicle Financial Aid Guide 2002-2003: Scholarships and Loans
for High School Students, College Undergraduates, Graduates, and
Adult Learners. Moravia, NY: Chronicle Guidance Publications, Inc.,2002. Information on scholarship programs in all fields of study, from undergraduate to postdoctoral levels. Sources include public and private organizations. Indexed by sponsoring organization and subject area. Published annually.
College Board Scholarship Handbook 2003. New York, NY: College
Board Publications, 2002 . Descriptions of private and government scholarship and internship programs for undergraduates.
College Blue Book: Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants, and Loans.
31st ed. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2003.Lists over 2,500 financial aid awards, arranged by area of study and type of recipient, and indexed by title,subject, sponsor, and academic level. Also available in CD-ROM format.
Fastweb.com, ed. The Complete Scholarship Book: The Biggest,
Easiest Guide for Getting the Most Money for College. 3rd ed.
Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2000.
Getting Money for Graduate School. Lawrenceville, NJ: Peterson's
Guides, 2002. Specifically targeted for the graduate and
post-graduate student, this one-of-a-kind resource identifies
more than 1,000 scholarships, grants, prizes, forgivable loans
and fellowships available to help pay for these advanced studies. Guernsey, Lisa. College.edu: On-line Resources
for the Cyber-Savvy Student. Version 6.0. Alexandria,VA: Octameron Associates, 2002. Recommended Web sites, with descriptions of how they are helpful to students in assessing colleges and in their search for scholarship funds.
Leider, Anna. The A's and B's of Academic Scholarships. 23rd ed.
Alexandria, VA: Octameron Associates, 2002. Describes in tabular
form academic merit-based scholarships at over 1,200 colleges and universities.
Leider, Anna. Loans and Grants from Uncle Sam: Am I Eligible
and for How Much? 10th ed. Alexandria,VA: Octameron Associates,
2002. This book contains simple explanations and useful
worksheets to help readers understand loans and grants offered
by the U.S. government. Leider, Robert, and Anna Leider. Don't
Miss Out: The Ambitious Student's Guide to Financial Aid. 27th
ed. Alexandria, VA: Octameron Associates, 2002. Planning guide
that discusses procedures and strategies for students seeking
financial aid, with tips about public and private funding sources.
Special sections on academic and athletic scholarships, funding
for women and minorities.
Meeting College Costs: What You Need to Know Before Your Child
and Your Money Leave Home. New York, NY: College Board Publications, 2003. This book provides insight into the application process and how aid eligibility is determined. Many worksheets are included to calculate expected eligibility for aid or financing. Need a Lift? to Educational Opportunities, Careers, Loans, Scholarships & Employment. 52nd ed. Indianapolis, IN: American Legion, 2002. Emphasis on scholarship opportunities for veterans and their dependents, or children of deceased or disabled veterans. Includes
information on federal, state, and private sources of funding,
American Legion benefit programs, and annotated bibliography.
Peterson's College Money Handbook 2003. 20th ed. Lawrenceville, NJ: Peterson's Guides, 2002. Details on financial aid programs offered by over 1,800 American colleges and universities, along with general information about federal and state loan programs.
Peterson's Scholarships, Grants and Prizes 2003. 7th ed.
Lawrenceville, NJ: Peterson's Guides, 2002. Lists more than
2,500 private sources of financial aid, as well as state-controlled grant programs. Book includesa Windows-based scholarship database disk which allows users to conduct tailored searches and print a list of matching awards. (A Macintosh version of the disk may be requested from the publisher.)
Schlachter, Gail Ann, and R. David Weber. The College Student's
Guide to Merit and Other No-Need Funding, 2002-2004. El Dorado
Hills, CA: Reference Service Press, 2002. More than 1,200
non-need-based funding programs for currently enrolled or
returning students, with subject, geographic, and calendar
Schlachter, Gail Ann and R. David Weber. High School
Senior's Guide to Merit and Other No-Need Funding 2002-2004.
El Dorado Hills, CA: Reference Service Press, 2002.
Schlachter, Gail Ann. How to Find out about Financial Aid
and Funding: A Guide to Print, Electronic, and Internet
Resources Listing Scholarships, Fellowships, Loans, Grants,
Awards, and Internships. 2nd ed. El Dorado Hills, CA:
Reference Service Press, 2002. An annotated bibliographic
guide to the resources available for both undergraduate and
graduate levels. Covers scholarships, grants to organizations,
grants to individuals, awards or prizes, and internship
opportunities. Entries indicate format of the item (Internet,
electronic, or print), publisher, scope, and ordering information.
A separate section describes federal government Web sites.
Indexed by title of work, author's name, publisher, geographic
area, and subject.
Schlachter, Gail Ann and R. David Weber. How to Pay for Your
Degree in Business & Related Field 2002-2004. El Dorado Hills,
CA: Reference Service Press, 2002.
Schlachter, Gail Ann and R. David Weber. How to Pay for Your
Degree in Education & Related Fields 2002-2004. El Dorado Hills,
CA: Reference Service Press, 2002.
Schlachter, Gail Ann, R. David Weber. Scholarships.
2002 ed. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
Directory of scholarships that can be used at any
undergraduate institution. The book is in four parts,
and scholarships are organized by broad subject areas.
Includes numerous indexes. Scholarship Almanac 2003.
5th ed. Lawrenceville, NJ: Peterson's Guides, 2002.
Scholarships, Fellowships and Loans: A Guide to
Education-Related Financial Aid Programs for Students
and Professionals. 20th ed. Farmington Hills, MI:
Gale Group, Inc., 2003. Lists a wide range of scholarships,
fellowships, loans, grants, and awards not controlled by
a college or university.
The Student Guide 2003-2004. Washington, DC: United States
Department of Education, 2003. Published annually, this is
the federal government's official guide to its financial
aid programs, including Pell Grants, Stafford and Perkins
Loans, PLUS Loans, and Work-Study. Includes general information
on applications, eligibility, determination of need, and
college tuition financing.
Vuturo, Christopher. The Scholarship Advisor: Hundreds of
Thousands of Scholarships Worth More Than $1 Billion. New
York, NY: Princeton Review, 2001. Weber, R. David, Douglas
Bucher, and Gail Ann Schlachter. Kaplan Scholarships 2003.
New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002. Information on programs
that offer significant and unrestricted scholarships combined
with tips and advice on how to get them.
More Internet Sources
Academic Research Information System
Provides both undergraduate and graduate students with
information on scholarships, fellowships, grants, and
internships in the arts, humanities, and sciences.
Information on union-sponsored scholarships and aid.
College Board's Scholarship Search
Users can create a personal profile of educational level, talents, and background to search among 2,000 undergraduate scholarships, loans, internships, and other financial aid programs from non-college sources.
A scholarship search engine that prompts users to enter information about themselves, including area of study, and responds with an appropriate list of available scholarships.
Federal Student Aid
The U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid (FSA)
programs, described on this Web site, are the largest source of
student aid in America. The information provided is designed to
assist college planning. It provides access to and information
about the products and services that needed throughout the
financial aid process. Finaid: The Financial Aid Information
Links to funding sources such as scholarships, fellowships, and
grants, some of which are focused towards those with particular
needs or interests: disabled, minorities and international students. The Foundation Center's Youth in Philanthropy-Scholarship Information Page. See grant link below.
Grant for Youth in Philanthropy
Petersons.com: Financing Education
Provides help, guidance, and answers to frequently-asked
questions on financial aid, as well as
information on organizations that offer private and federal loans. Petersons' Scholarship Search provides
information on over 1.6 million scholarships, grants, and prizes worth nearly $4 billion. (Free
registration is required in order to use the database) Scholarship Resource Network Express
This site offers guidance on college preparation, evaluation,
selection, application, and financing. Free registration is
required in order to use the database.
Pathways to Career Success for Women: A Resource Guide to
Colleges, Financial Aid, and Work.Chicago,
IL: J.G. Ferguson Publishing Company, 2000.
Schlachter, Gail Ann. Directory of Financial Aids for Women
2003-2005. El Dorado Hills, CA: Reference
Service Press, 2003. Describes over 1,700 scholarships, fellowships, loans, grants, awards,
internships, and state sources of educational benefits
for women. Entries include program title,
sponsoring organization, availability, purpose, eligibility, financial data, duration, limitations, number
of awards, and application deadline. Includes annotated bibliography of general financial aid directories.
Indexed by program title, sponsoring organization, geographic
area, subject focus, and calendar deadlines.
Brogan, Katie Struckel and Robert Brewer, eds. 2003 Writer's
Market. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest
Books, 2002.Contains a "Contests and Awards" section listing fellowships and prizes for fiction, nonfiction,
poetry, playwriting, screenwriting, journalism, children's literature, and translation. Includes
information on programs sponsored by state arts councils.
Literary Market Place 2003: The Directory of the American Book
Publishing Industry. Medford, NJ: Information
Today Inc., 2002. Includes a section listing literary prizes, contests, residencies, fellowships, and grants.
Morrone, John, Victoria Vinton, and Anna Jardine, eds. Grants
and Awards Available to American Writers.
New York: PEN American Center, 2002. Comprehensive list of awards available to American and Canadian
writers for use in the U.S. or abroad. Includes appendix of state arts councils.
Poets & Writers Magazine. New York, NY: Poets & Writers, Inc.
Sova, Kathy, and Samantha Rachel Healy, eds. Dramatists Sourcebook, 2002-2003. New York: Theatre
Communications Group, 2002. Contains a "Fellowship and Grants" section listing foundations and organizations
that offer funding to playwrights, composers, translators, librettists, deadlines, remuneration, and
includes a list of sources of emergency funds for writers in severe temporary financial difficulties,
the addresses and phone numbers of state arts agencies, and artists' colonies and residencies.
Wright, Michael, and Christi Pyland. The Student's Guide to Playwriting Opportunities. 3rd ed. Dorset,
VT: American Theatre Works, 2002.Includes developmental programs that may have internships, fellowships,
summer employment, and other opportunities of interest to student playwrights.
More Internet Sources
Americans for the Arts
Information clearinghouse that provides material on funding for
individuals in all areas of the arts. National
Endowment for the Arts
Provides information on fellowships in the areas of poetry,
prose, music, and the arts. Newswise
Includes descriptions, deadlines, and contact information for
more than 90 awards, grants, and fellowships in journalism.
Poets & Writers Online
Contains an extensive list of upcoming deadlines for future
poetry and fiction prizes. The Zuzu's Petals Literary Resource
Literary site with links to a variety of grants organizations and art councils.
Grant Business Resources
Grant Research for Starting and Managing a
Business From Your Home
Introduction: "There's No Place Like Home"
The cottage industry, an old-fashioned enterprise, is enjoying
a revival so strong that it's difficult to find out just how many
Americans are now working at home. Estimates range from two to five
million and the numbers may double or triple by 2010.
Because women now enter business at a rate five times faster
than men, the trend of operating from home is growing. A natural starting
place for many businesses seems to be the garage, basement, or den. A
recent Census Bureau study showed that over 300,000 women's businesses
are operated out of the home.
Homemakers, hobbyists, retirees, people interested in a second
income, and the disabled are just a few of the groups attracted to home
enterprises. A young mother's craft business began when she started
appliquéing decorations on her children's clothes. A retired government
worker bought 36 beehives and sold honey to local health food stores and
at craft fairs. A teacher did typing and secretarial jobs for her
husband and friends until she realized the potential market and opened
a full-time secretarial service from her apartment. Others have become
home business owners by using their skills in catering, counseling,
teaching, day care, sewing, writing, photography, consulting, market
research, and landscape design.
The list of Grants of services that have been successfully operated
from home is endless: chimney sweeping, maid services, messenger services,
wake-up and answering services, home nursing, mail order businesses,
party planning, dog grooming, kitchen and closet planning and organizing,
and others too numerous to mention. As you explore the questions asked
in the first chapter, "Home Entrepreneurship: Is It For You," let your
thoughts run freely through the possibilities until you can target
exactly the right type of business for your skills, your home space,
your market, and your part of the country.
Home Enterpreneurship: Is It For You?
The first step in deciding whether to start a business is to ask
yourself this important question:
"Do I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?"
Studying the characteristics of successful business
owners will help you to tell whether your personality traits, experiences,
and values are similar to those who have succeeded. And assessing your
experience, skills, and life goals will also help you decide if you want
to invest the energy, time, and resources that successful entrepreneurship
Who is the "Typical" Entrepreneur?
What makes an entrepreneur successful is a hotly debated and
vigorously researched subject. In Success And Survival In The Family-
Owned Business, Pat B. Alcorn, an expert on entrepreneurial problems,
has developed the following questionnaire to help you determine your
"Entrepreneurial Quotient." Write your answers in the margin. Then read
on to discover what she believes characterizes the typical entrepreneur:
Do you reconcile your bank account as soon as the monthly statement
Entrepreneurs are careful about money. They usually know how much
money they have so they can seize opportunities on short notice. They
know what things cost, whether prices are going up or down, and whether
they are getting a bargain.
Did you earn money on your own from some source other than your family
before you were 10 years old?
Most people who are going to make money in business show an affinity for
making money at an early age--by babysitting, selling lemonade, delivering
newspapers, or some such strategy.
Do you get up early in the morning and find yourself at work before others
are out of bed?
Entrepreneurs sleep and eat enough to keep up their strength, but
they don't usually tarry at these pursuits.
Do you tend to trust your hunches rather than wait until you have a lot of
information on hand?
Hunches are judgments based on factors that cannot be quantified, A big part
of entrepreneurship seems to be risk-taking based on these hunches.
Do you keep new ideas in your head instead of writing them down?
Entrepreneurs keep a lot of things in their heads, including their most
Do you remember people's names and faces well?
Ease in remembering names and faces is very important in the business world.
Were you good in "hard" subjects--mathematics, biology, engineering,
accounting, and so forth--in school?
People who major in business administration in college are more likely to
be successful entrepreneurs than anyone else. They prefer subjects in which
the answers are conclusive rather than open-ended conclusions full of
contingencies. Grants should include your Business Investments.
In school, did you pretty much stay away from such organizations as Scouts
and student government?
Most entrepreneurs tend to be loners rather than joiners, unless joining is
a useful tactic for making contacts and gathering business information.
In courting the opposite sex, did you tend to go for one person at a time
as opposed to playing the field?
Most entrepreneurs preferred one person because to play the field would have
taken too much time away from business activities.
Do you close deals with a handshake rather than insisting on written
contracts and guarantees?
Good entrepreneurs are often comfortable with something less binding than
written contracts. When the only bond is a word, it becomes a matter of
honor, and no entrepreneur can afford to lose honor.
Do you devote considerably more time and thought to work than to other
activities, such as hobbies?
Entrepreneurs may have some leisure time activities, but their principal
hobby is their work.
A similar test was developed by John Komives, director of Milwaukee's
Center for Venture Management. Again, write your answers in the margin,
then read on to see the expert's answers
Was your parent an entrepreneur?
Having a close relative who was an entrepreneur is the single most telling
indicator of a successful entrepreneur.
Are you an immigrant?
There is a high correlation between immigrants and entrepreneurs. In this
sense, "immigrant" includes not only those who were born outside the United
States, but also those who moved from farm to city or from the Midwest to
the West Coast.
Did you have a paper route?
The entrepreneurial streak shows up early in life.
Were you a good student?
Typical entrepreneurs were anything but model students and often were
expelled from school.
Do you have a favorite spectator sport?
The best answer is "no." Entrepreneurs are poor spectators. They often
excel at individual, fast-paced sports such as skiing or sailing.
What size company do you now work for?
The typical entrepreneur comes from a medium-sized company--30 to 500
Have you ever been fired?
Entrepreneurs make poor employees. That's why they become entrepreneurs.
If you had a new business going, would you play your cards close to the
vest, or would you be willing to discuss problems with your employees?
Typical entrepreneurs have a secretive streak. If they confide in anyone,
it is likely to be another entrepreneur.
Are you an inventor? A Ph.D.?
Not a positive indicator. Inventors fall in love with their products,
Ph.D.s with their research.
How old are you?
The typical age for starting a business seems to be 32-35.
When do you plan to retire?
In still another study, Jeffry A. Timmons asserts that entrepreneurs are
people who have high energy, feel self-confident, set long-term goals, and
view money as a measure of accomplishment. They persist in problem solving,
take moderate risks, learn from failures, seek and use feedback, take
initiative, accept personal responsibility, and use all available
resources. They compete with themselves and believe that success or
failure lies within their personal control or influence. They can
Are You Ready, Willing, and Able?
Now that you have studied the characteristics of others who have
succeeded, survey your reasons and in the grant proposal, state reasons
for wanting a home-based business. Are you dissatisfied with your current
job? What are your skills? What is your business experience, especially in
the business you want to start? What are your life goals? What resources
do you have that might help?
Answering these questions will provide reality testing for ideas that can
sound incredibly glamorous when chatting with friends or seductively
attractive when you are irritated or bored by your present job.
Order a copy of the SBA pamphlet Checklist For Going Into Business, MA
2.016 (see For Further Information). Answer the questions and discuss your
reactions with friends and family. Or better yet, ask several people close
to you to think carefully about you and fill out the checklist for you.
Have you underestimated your abilities? Overestimated them? Sometimes an
evaluation by a friend is more useful than a self-evaluation.
How does your family react to the idea of a home business? Will you expect
them to help out? What changes would your business use of the house mean
for them? Will you have to remodel to create a usable business space?
What resources are available to you? Will you start by keeping your job and
"moonlighting" for a while? Do you have a small nest egg, inheritance, or
retirement income to live on until you get the business going? Do you
already own tools or machines that will help (for instance, a word
processor for a secretarial business or professional cameras and a darkroom
for a commercial photography business)? Are you able to go back to school
for training if necessary? Have you built up a network of contacts and
possible customers through your previous lines of work or will you be
starting from scratch? Check other Grant Resources this site.
Answering these questions honestly and completely will help you assess not
only your chances for success but also which type of home-based business to
choose. For instance, if your past professional life and contacts are all
in the educational, teaching, child-oriented school area, then you should
have powerful reasons for leaving that and opening a mail-order seed
business. Possibly a tutoring business or a tot exercise franchise would
use more of your resources and networks. On the other hand, if your
assessment of your life goals and preferences helps you realize that you
are burned out from working with kids, then perhaps a business planning
birthday parties could later be built into a general party planning and
catering business. You would be using your old contacts to build a
long-range business plan that focuses on a service business for adults.
The Advantages of Home-Based Business
Why have millions of Americans chosen to work and live in the same place?
Why are cottage industries sprouting faster than we can count them? Some
home-based businesses start by accident rather than by conscious design.
Secretarial services, day-care centers, craft ventures, and the like may
start out as weekend activities in the recreation room. After a while their
owners are surprised to see how profitable or enjoyable the venture has
become. The glimpse of a healthy market lures them into a full-time
venture. This low-risk, low-overhead, gradual kind of start-up is very
attractive to new business people.
Many home-based business people cite decreased commuting time and other
lessened business expenses as advantages for working at home. If your place
of work is just 30 minutes away, that's five hours a week in commuting
time, many dollars in gasoline and car maintenance or transit fares, and
untold stress fighting traffic. Getting out of the high-fashion rat race is
a plus for many who dislike having to dress up and continually buy new
clothes to feel comfortable in settings outside the home.
Homemakers--mostly women but also an increasing number of men--are choosing
a home-based business in order to have a more flexible lifestyle and to be
closer to family. A parent who has a home office can eat lunch with the
children or more easily attend special school or sports events. The
home-based business person has more control over work hours than someone
with a 9 to 5 job. Night owls who like to work until 3 a.m. can then sleep
late (remembering, of course, to turn on the answering machine and let
customers know the business hours). On the other hand, early birds can work
without the usual disturbance from the telephones.
The tax advantages of operating a business from home are numerous but
sometimes complicated. Wise business owners keep careful records and work
with accountants, attorneys, and financial planners to make sure they are
filing for the legal maximum write-offs and benefits.
The Disadvantages of a Home-Based Business
If you were hard at work in an office downtown, it is unlikely that three
children would come storming in to ask for snacks or that you would end up
using the ironing board for a bookshelf or have to think twice about hiring
others because they might resent working at your kitchen table. These are
just a few of the problems that make the glamour of working at home fade
fast. Some disadvantages of working at home can be minimized by
self-discipline, by setting clear limits with family and friends, and by
projecting a professional image. Other disadvantages "come with the turf"
and just have to be lived with. If a delivery man comes to the door, you
will probably be the one to interrupt your work and sign for the package.
It takes time and discipline to establish steady, at-home work patterns.
Often it seems easier to water the plants or do the laundry than to call a
client, design a new brochure, or prepare bills for customers whose work
you've completed. Without the deadlines imposed by supervisors or peers, it
can be hard to do the least appealing jobs on your list. To make matters
worse, others may not take you seriously. Neighbors may stop by to chat or
friends may call your business number knowing you will answer. Without
supervisors or managers, you are the one who must set limits and plan your
time. There also is the problem of isolation. While you are now your own
boss, you won't have the chats, the parties, the companionship of fellow
workers. Losing such social contact requires adjustments.
As the business grows and changes, the home entrepreneur has to put up with
cramped or inappropriate space. No more simply putting in a request for a
bigger file cabinet or a new copy machine; now you must visit showrooms or
garage sales, evaluate features, compare prices, and probably pick the item
Your teenager may resent having to keep the stereo low because you're
meeting with a client in the next room. Your spouse may be irritated by
having to fry that freshly caught trout on the backyard grill so your
office won't smell of fish. Your son may not want to give up the recreation
room pool table so you can cut out 100 doll patterns this weekend.
Neighbors may comment on the extra traffic your customers create on their
quiet street. Family privacy and lifestyle patterns may be disturbed. And
you will probably find yourself wrestling with laws and regulations you
never dreamed could exist before you went into business.
Your Professional Image
Developing a professional image may be hard if you work out of your home.
Projecting a businesslike image is an important part of building
credibility with your customers and contributes to your own professional
self-image. Design a logo or have one designed; order business cards and
stationery. Set regular business hours. Use an answering machine or
answering service. If other members of the family also answer the phone,
make sure they know what to say. Have a businesslike office or "showroom"
if you meet customers face to face. Consider referring to your apartment
number as your "suite number" or rent a post office box rather than using
your street address. Such practices might improve your chances of doing
business with potential customers.
Your Next Steps
Now that you have reflected on the characteristics of successful
entrepreneurship and assessed your skills, experience, and life goals, it's
time to plan your next steps. Ask yourself: Given the disadvantages of
working out of my home, do I still want to? Now that I know more about
what's involved in starting a business, is it still for me? Do I need
further training or experience? Should I begin part-time in order to test
the waters, check out market potential, or refine my product or service? Do
I need more time to research possible products or services? Have I decided
on a particular business? The next chapter will help you define your
business, the market, and the price to charge for your product or service.
Others Have Succeeded--Why Not You?
A former teacher tells how she started her own tutoring business:
I taught languages in high school for seven years. Whenever I needed a
little extra money, or during summer vacations, I tutored individual
students. As my reputation grew, people began to ask me if I could
recommend tutors in other subjects.
As my enthusiasm for teaching in public schools waned, I began to research
the possibility of a tutoring business. I started one summer by turning my
second bedroom into an office and having stationery printed. Summer is a
peak time because parents hire tutors to help their kids catch up on
subjects. By the end of that summer I was managing 48 tutors in 23
different subjects or grade levels all over the metropolitan area. I hired
a part-time assistant who worked at the kitchen table. We added other
services, such as classes to help high-school students prepare for national
exams. Operating from home was perfect for me since I needed to keep my
overhead low and keep a good cash flow to be able to pay my tutors.
A computer programmer tells his story:
I longed to get enough work doing computer programming so that I could
avoid the long commute to work and be closer to my two young boys as they
grew up. I started working in an office I built in the basement doing small
jobs and working for friends in the business who were up against tight
deadlines. When I got my first big contract, I took the leap and gave
notice. Now, two years later I've established a good track record with
clients and have hired two others who work at terminals in my recreation
room. I like being able to work late at night after the family is asleep.
And I enjoy being around when the kids get home from school. I don't need a
fancy downtown office. If I meet with a client. I make sure it's at his
office, not mine.
Answering The Big Question: What? Who? Where? How? and How Much?
What's the perfect home business for you? You've listed your skills. You've
outlined your interests. You've described your family's preferred
lifestyle. You've come up with a business idea. Next, consider such
questions as: Are there customers for my product or service? How do I know?
How will I find them? Who are my competitors? What will I charge? How will
I promote my product or service? Finding the answers to these questions is
the challenging and sometimes tedious homework that will help you determine
your chances for success, and whether you should look for another more
marketable idea. Be sure to include these in your Grant research notes.
What Is My Product?
"I bathe and groom poodles and small dogs." "I design, construct, and sell
roll-top desks." "I provide accounting services to small business clients."
"I make dried flower arrangements." "I teach intermediate and advanced
piano to children." "I design and implement direct mail advertising
campaigns for small businesses and nonprofit organizations."
The first step in creating a business is to decide what your product is.
What are you selling? Practice writing a short, specific statement
describing your product or service. Getting a clear idea of a business
concept is one of the most difficult tasks in creating a business. Your
statement may change several times as you experiment with the market and
test your skills. Instead of "I make toys," you may want to narrow your
product line to "I make wooden dolls." Instead of "I write software
programs for small business needs," you may decide to tap into a big market
and "provide training for employees of small businesses in the use of
accounting packages." See how it feels to describe your product or service
to family, friends, potential customers, and fellow business people. Is
your description clear and brief? Can you say it with confidence and
Who Will Buy It?
To develop and test your business idea, answer the question "Who will buy
my product or service?" Make a list of potential customers: individuals,
groups, segments of the population, or other businesses that need your
product or service. If you are making fabric-covered lap boards for people
confined to bed, how will you quickly and inexpensively find a market?
Through hospitals or home nursing care organizations? Through craft stores
by displaying them as gift items? In mail order catalogues? Is there a
market avenue that will reach children? Ask friends and colleagues for help
in brainstorming all the possible markets (customers) and uses for your
product or service.
Who Is the Competition?
Your business planning must also include an up-to-date analysis of your
competition. Why? Because you need to plan your market position--how you
will fit into the marketplace. Will your product or service be cheaper or
more expensive than that of the major competitions? Will it be more
durable? Will you be open during hours that your competitors are closed?
What benefits can you build into your product or service that your
competitors don't offer? Will you do rush jobs?
In planning your business, look for a unique niche that will give you
freedom from strong competition or that will make your product or service
more valuable than others in the market. If you plan to open a day-care
center and find that none in your area is open before school, early opening
might make your service more competitive. If you discover that local
caterers have overlooked the office party market, you might highlight that
in your brochure. The more you can learn about your competition, the better
you'll be able to decide how to position yourself in the market.
Newspaper ads and trade magazines are other good sources of market
information. Check also with the Chamber of Commerce, your county office of
economic development, the Census Bureau, and business and professional
organizations to gather market and pricing data.
Where Are the Buyers? How Can I Find Them?
As you become more familiar with the competition, you will also be
discovering where and how to find buyers. Whatever the type of home
business you want to open, you will need to do market research to determine
if there are buyers for your idea, where they are, and how to find them.
(And in the process, you will also be gathering information on pricing.)
Visit your local library to compile local and county statistics on the size
and makeup of your market. (While you are at the library, check out some
books on marketing research so you will know what you are getting into.)
Also, check those of the following resources that might have data about
your product or service or the people who would use it:
Encyclopedia of Associates. 17th Edition. Gale Research Company, Book
Tower, Detroit, MI 48226.
Ayer Directory of Publications. Lists trade publications by subject matter.
Contact the sales, marketing, or research departments for buying patterns
among their readers.
"Survey of Buying Power." Sales, Marketing, Management Magazine. July issue
Thomas' Register. Lists companies by product and service line, organized
geographically and alphabetically.
Directory of Business, Trade, and Public Policy Organizations. U.S. Small
Business Administration, Office of Advocacy.
Department of Commerce Publications. Data User Series Division, Bureau of
the Census, Washington, D.C. 20233.
County Business Patterns. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the
Census. Available for each state.
When your marketing research is completed you will have 1) identified your
potential customers; 2) found out all you can about their habits, needs,
preferences, and buying cycles; and 3) decided how to reach them to
How Much Shall I Charge?
Four main factors will help you decide what to charge for your product or
service: 1) your direct and indirect costs; 2) the profit you want to make;
3) your market research data on competitors' prices; and 4) the urgency of
the market demand. There is rarely an exact "right" price but rather an
acceptable price range within which you will want to fall. Avoid the common
mistakes made by many new business owners--charging too much or too little.
Use several approaches to arrive at a cost and "test" the price. If your
ego is too involved, your price may be too high. On the other hand, if you
have the attitude that "this is just a little something I do in my spare
time" or "anybody could do this," then your price may be too low. Check
the Business Library for other Grant Resources.
Here is a formula for setting a fair price. Calculate your price using
other approaches, too, before you make a final decision on price:
Typical Pricing Formula
1. Direct Material Costs--Figure the total cost of the raw materials you
have to use to make up your item. Figure the cost of a group of items and
then divide by the number of items to find the cost per item. If you can
easily and immediately determine the material cost of a single item, fine.
Some items are produced in batches, however, and it is easier to get an
item cost by dividing the cost of a batch by the number of items eventually
2. Direct Labor Costs--Figure what you pay to employees to produce the item
(whether or not you have employees now). You must assign a wage figure,
even if you are the only one producing the item. Take the weekly salary you
pay someone to produce the necessary number of items and divide it by the
number of items. Add this figure to the Direct Material Costs total.
Materials + Labor = $__________.
3. Overhead Expenses--These expenses include rent, gas and electricity,
business telephone calls, packing and shipping supplies, delivery and
freight charges, cleaning, insurance, office supplies, postage, payroll
taxes, repairs, and maintenance. The accuracy of your costing depends on
estimating logical amounts for all categories of expenses. If you are
working at home, figure a portion of your total rent or mortgage payment
(in proportion to your work space and storage areas), or assign a
reasonable, competitive rent figure for the same amount and type of space.
List all overhead expense items and total them. Divide the total overhead
figure by the number of items per month (or time period you used above).
The answer is your overhead per item.
Overhead + Materials + Labor = Total Cost/Item
4. Profit--Include an amount added to the cost of each item so you won't
end up just breaking even or making the employees' wages. Check your
competition and see what they are charging. (Retailers generally double the
wholesale price.) If your product is a little better than the competition,
charge a little more. If your product is comparable, price it similarly.
Remember, you will get the profit from each sale, in addition to the salary
figure. Add the profit figure you have chosen to the total cost per item to
get your total price per item.
Profit + Total Cost/Item = Total Price/Item
Remember, the main purpose in operating a business is to make a profit.
Don't undersell your product or service just because "I'd be baking cakes
anyway" or "I'm just starting out" or"I work out of my home." If you have a
new, rare, handmade product or personalized service, the demand may be so
high that customers are willing to pay a little more. Check the resource:
"Make Your Price Sell", in the Business Library
Promotion is an overall, long-range plan designed to inform potential
customers about what you have to sell. Advertising is usually thought of as
the paid communication part of the promotion program.
To develop a total promotional campaign you must answer these questions: 1)
What image or message do I want to promote? 2) What are the best media and
activities for reaching my potential customers? 3) How much time and money
can I spend on the effort?
Develop a long-range, consistent program for building image and reaching
customers. Your image should be reflected in your business card, logo,
stationery, brochure, newsletter, telephone answering service, signs, paid
ads, and promotional activities.
Word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied customers are the very best
promotion any business can have. Consider which promotional tactics will
build the confidence and image you are looking for--giving speeches and
interviews (often good for counselors, teachers, lawyers, consultants),
having an open house or holiday home sale (for craftspeople), holiday
recitals or shows (for music and dance teachers or day-care operators),
free demonstrations and samples (for retailers, decorators, caterers).
Several small ads may have more impact than one large, splashy ad. Conduct
a campaign rather than having a one-shot ad or event. If you hire a public
relations firm, look for one that can give you personal attention and
develop a total marketing plan for you, not just a couple of ads. The plan
Managing Your Business: Structure, Recordkeeping, Taxes, and Insurance
You're The Boss.
A telling sign on a new businessowner's desk read: "Yesterday I didn't even
know how to spell ENTREPRENEUR and now I are one!" Now that you have
decided to open a home-based business, all decisions will be your
responsibility, not just those you previously enjoyed because they involved
your area of expertise. Of course, as a day-care operator you already knew
how to soothe an upset child, but as the owner of that business, do you
know when to file your taxes? As a consultant you have over 20 years'
experience advising organizations on personnel matters, but do you know if
it's to your advantage to incorporate? You are an expert at word
processing, but do you know how to develop an efficient recordkeeping and
billing system? You are the boss now and the good health of your business
depends on your management skills.
Choosing Your Form Of Business Organization
One of the most important decisions you will make is how to set up the
business as a 1) sole proprietorship, 2) partnership, or 3) corporation.
Remember, the small business owner risks it all, no matter what form of
The forming of a business organization depends on the following factors
and will be included in Grant process
* Legal restrictions
* Need for capital
* Liabilities assumed
* Number of people associated in the venture
* Kind of business or operation
* Tax advantages or disadvantages
* Intended division of earnings
* Perpetuation of the business
Most home-based businesses are sole proprietorships or partnerships, but a
comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of organization
A sole proprietorship is the least costly way of starting a business. You
can form a sole proprietorship by finding a location and opening the door
for business. There are the usual fees for registering your business name
and for legal work in changing zoning restrictions and obtaining necessary
licenses. Attorney's fees for starting your business will be less than for
the other forms because less document preparation is required.
* Easiest to get started * Unlimited liability
* Greatest freedom of action * Death or illness endanger
* Maximum authority * Growth limited to personal
* Income tax advantages in * Personal affairs easily
very small firms mixed with business
* Social Security advantage to
A partnership can be formed by simply making an oral agreement between two
or more persons, but such informality is not recommended. Legal fees for
drawing up a partnership agreement are higher than those for a sole
proprietorship, but may be lower than incorporating. You would be wise,
however, to consult an attorney to have a partnership agreement drawn up to
help resolve future disputes.
* Two heads better than one * Death, withdrawal, or
bankruptcy of one partner
* Additional sources of endangers business
* Better credit rating than * Difficult to get rid of bad
corporation of similar size partner
* Hazy line of authority
You can incorporate without an attorney, but you would be unwise to do so.
You may think a small family corporation does not need an attorney, but an
attorney can save members of a family corporation from hard feelings and
family squabbles. Attorney's fees may run high if organization problems are
complex. The corporate form is usually the most costly to organize.
* Limited liability for * Gives owner a false
stockholders (while true sense of security
for big business, may not
be for small business) * Heavier taxes
* Continuity * Power limited by Charter
* Transfer of shares * Less freedom of activity
* Easier to raise capital * Legal formalities
* Possible to separate * Expensive to launch
business functions into
Keeping accurate and up-to-date business records is, for many people, the
most difficult and uninteresting aspect of operating a home-based business.
If this area of business management is one that you anticipate will be hard
for you, plan now how you will cope. Don't wait until tax time or until you
are totally confused. Take a course at the local community college, ask a
volunteer SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) representative from
the Small Business Administration to help you in the beginning, or hire an
accountant to advise you on setting up and maintaining a recordkeeping
Your records will be used to prepare tax returns, make business decisions,
and apply for loans. Set aside a special time each day to update your
records. It will pay off in the long run with more deductions and fewer
If your business is small or related to an activity that is usually
considered a hobby, it's even more important that you keep good records.
The IRS may decide that what you are doing is only a hobby, and you won't
be allowed to deduct expenses or losses from your home-produced income at
tax time. So keep records of all transactions in which you spend or bring
in money. Pick a name for your business and register it with local or state
regulatory authorities. Call your city hall or county courthouse to find
Your records should tell you these three facts:
* How much cash you owe,
* How much cash you are due, and
* How much cash you have on hand.
You should keep five basic journals:
1. Check register--Shows each check disbursed, the date of disbursement,
number of the check, to whom it was made out (payee), the amount of money
disbursed, and for what purpose.
2. Cash receipts--Shows the amount of money received, from whom, and for
3. Sales journal--Shows the business transaction, date, for whom it was
performed, the amount of the invoice, and the sales tax, if applicable. It
may be divided to indicate labor and goods.
4. Voucher register--A record of bills, money owed, the date of the bill,
to whom it is owed, the amount, and the service.
5. General journal--A means of adjusting some entries in the other four
Choosing a Recordkeeping System
Set up your records to reflect the amount and type of activity in your
particular business. There are a wide range of pre-packaged recordkeeping
systems. The SBA's pamphlet Small Business Bibliography No. 15 (see "For
Further Information") lists many such systems. The most useful system for a
small, home-based business is usually based on what is called the
"One-Write System." It captures information at the time the transaction
takes place. These One-Write Systems are efficient because they eliminate
the need for recopying the data and are compatible with electronic data
processing if you should decide to computerize.
Even though you may be small and just beginning, it is probably wise to
consult an accountant to help you decide which recordkeeping system is best
for your business. Once it is set up, you can record the daily transactions
or periodically have a bookkeeper post your daily transactions in your
General Ledger and prepare your financial statements.
Be sure to establish a separate bank account for your business--even before
the first sale. Then you will have a complete and distinct record of your
income and expenditures for tax purposes, and you won't have to remember
which expenses were business and which were personal.
It is important to choose a recordkeeping system that you understand and
will use. It will help you see how well the business is doing and is the
first step in responsible financial management.
Tax Obligations And Benefits
Significant tax savings are available to the home-based business owner in
the form of deductions, credits, and depreciation allowances. The time,
money, and energy you put into keeping good records and keeping current on
tax laws will be worthwhile and ensure that you operate within the law. You
will need to plan for income tax, social security (all self-employed
persons must pay a federal self-employment tax), employees' taxes (if you
hire anyone), property tax on your home and business-related taxes, such as
sales tax, gross-receipts or inventory tax (in some states and localities),
and excise or individual item taxes (on certain commodities).
The Internal Revenue Service supplies the following free booklets (and runs
free workshops) to give you details on your specific obligations:
* Your Federal Income Tax (Publication 17)
* Tax Guide for Small Business (Publication 334)
* Business Use of Your Home (Publication 587)
* Employer's Tax Guide (Circular E)
* self-employment Tax (Publication 533)
* Tax Information on Retirement Plans for the
self-employed (Publication 560)
* Tax Information on Depreciation (Publication 534)
* Information on Excise Taxes (Publication 510)
* Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax (Publication 505
There are various federal and state forms you will need to fill out to
start a small business. The federal government requires you to fill out
several forms including the following:
* Application for Employer Identification Number
(Form SS-4) (If you have employees or are subject to
* Employer's Annual Unemployment Tax Return (Form 940)
* Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return (Form 941)
* Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate (W-4)
* Employer's Wage and Tax Statement (W-2)
* Reconciliation/Transmittal of Income and Tax
As a home-based business owner you should be aware that every business
decision--each purchase and transaction you make--has tax implications or
built-in tax advantages or disadvantages. Deductions may be available for
home maintenance and improvements; automobile expenses; telephone expenses;
office and work space; inventory space; major purchases, such as a
computer; and a wide variety of other items such as uniforms, coffee
service, trademarks, a safe deposit box, credit bureau fees, and business
Each business situation is different and tax laws change, so consult
up-to-date references, a trusted attorney, and an accountant who can advise
you on your particular obligations and benefits.
Insurance helps to safeguard your business against losses from fire,
illness, and injury. You cannot operate without it. Talk with an insurance
representative about your business needs. Check with the insurance carriers
on your home policy and make sure business use of your home is compatible
with your homeowner's policy. In addition to a homeowner's policy (personal
plan), now that you have a business, you will need a commercial policy for
full protection. Discuss these other possible needs with your agent:
* Product Liability Coverage--to protect you in case
your product causes injury to the user
* Auto Liability and "Non-owned" Auto Liability
Insurance--if a car is ever used to support the
business in any way
* Medical Payments Insurance--payable if someone is
injured in your home whether or not it was your
* Worker's Compensation--if you have employees
* Business Interruption Insurance or Earnings
Insurance--in case your business is damaged by fire
or some other cause and you must totally or partially
* Disability Income Protection--a form of health
insurance in case you become disabled
* Business Life Insurance--to provide funds for
transition if you die
Be sure to keep all your insurance records and policies in a safe
place--either with your accountant or in a safe deposit box. If you keep
them at home for convenience sake, then give your policy numbers and
insurance company names to your accountant or lawyer or put it in your safe
Final advice for the wise business person is to read and understand the
fine print in all policies and to reevaluate business insurance needs about
every six months.
Another aspect of planning is sheltering tax dollars through a Keogh Plan
or corporate pension and profit-sharing plans, if your business is
incorporated, or a retirement plan.
If you have a partnership, consider making a Buy and Sell Agreement with
your partner(s). This agreement requires the surviving partner(s) to buy,
and the heirs to sell, the deceased partner's interest. The surviving
partner(s) then becomes the sole owner(s) and the heirs receive cash for
their share of the business.
Dealing With Laws: Zoning, Licensing, Permits, and Others
Unfortunately, many home-based business people try to "slide" into
business, saying "I'll just try it for a few months and see how things go"
or "It's not really a business. I have only ten clients." This attitude can
lead to a lack of planning and big disappointments. If you set up your
studio, print business cards and flyers announcing classes, and then find
that regulations make it illegal to operate out of your home, you may have
to start all over.
Before you start your home-based business, do a thorough investigation of
the zoning laws in your community. Zoning regulations spell out activities
permitted and prohibited in specific portions of a city or county. Call
your town hall, zoning office, or local library to get a copy of zoning
laws. Find out the structure of your local zoning groups. Most areas have
Planning, Zoning, and Appeals Boards.
If the home business you are planning conforms to zoning regulations, then
all you need to do is keep abreast of new proposals that may affect your
situation. It's a good idea to stay in touch with others operating from
their homes by joining business organizations or neighborhood groups in
case you ever need to band together to propose or oppose new regulations.
Maintaining a low profile and friendly relations with your neighbors will
result in more support from them should adverse regulations affecting your
business ever be proposed.
If through your research you discover that the home business you are
planning would violate the zoning code, there are several possible ways to
proceed. You might wish to check with an attorney who specializes in zoning
law to look for a legal way around the regulation. You might decide to
apply to the Zoning Board for a variance or exception. Or you may be able
to change your business enough to make the operation fit the law. If the
regulation outlaws businesses that employ people other than the owner at
home, maybe you can have employees take work to their own homes. If your
business will create too much traffic, consider another strategy for
product distribution. If your business will create too much noise, maybe
you can soundproof your house. At last resort, ask yourself "Is it worth it
to organize a drive to change the law?" Considering the rapid growth in the
number of home-based businesses, you just might find other entrepreneurs
who are also interested in submitting a change in the regulations to the
Zoning Board. Go to meetings of the Board and try to identify the person
who appears most active and most sympathetic to your position.
In the unfortunate and unlikely (most zoning officers don't have time to
chase people who aren't bothering anybody) event that you are issued a
"cease and desist" order, you should: 1) file an appeal immediately with
the Appeals Board (if you interpret the regulations differently than they
do); or 2) submit a change in the regulation to the Zoning Board to allow
your business, which may enable you to continue to operate without fines
until the Board reaches a decision. You may need a lawyer if you are not
entirely familiar with the regulations and the workings of the Board.
Cultural and national trends point in the direction of zoning regulations
that allow quiet, nonpolluting, low-traffic kinds of home businesses. More
and more corporations are employing people to work at home. Most
neighborhoods will adopt a "live and let live" attitude if you keep your
premises neat and quiet and don't create traffic and parking problems.
Keeping Up With Zoning Legislation
There are two ways to keep up with zoning legislation in your community
(and with other topics of interest to home-based entrepreneurs). One way is
to read local newspapers, especially the business section and the local or
"neighborhood" sections. Be sure you notice local items about such things
as proposed subway stations or the county's plan for revitalization.
Changes like these could eventually influence zoning in your area. The
other way to keep abreast of trends and zoning issues is to join the local
chapter of a business group, such as the Rotary Club, the National
Association of Women Business Owners, the National Family Business Council,
or a Business and Professional Women's Club. Through newsletters, meetings,
and friendships that develop, you will hear all the latest local (and
national) issues discussed while you learn valuable business skills and
make useful contacts.
Working With Professionals
Even the smallest and newest business needs help from at least two kinds of
specialists: an attorney and an accountant. Depending on your type of
business and your skills you may, from time to time, ask the advice of
other professionals, such as a direct mail or marketing specialist, an
insurance representative, management consultant, a computer specialist, a
realtor, a public relations expert.
Several guidelines will hold true no matter what type of expert you are
dealing with: 1) Interview professionals to see if you will be comfortable
working with them. Make sure they have served other small businesses
similar to yours. Find out ahead of time exactly what service you are
buying, what the working relationship will be, and what fees will be
charged. 2) Be completely honest about your business situation. Advice
based on partial or incorrect information is no advice at all. If you are
having problems, don't be embarrassed. If your sales are down, give the
experts all the information you have and work as a team to solve the
problem. If business is good, don't be afraid that professionals will steal
your idea or expect a raise. Build a trusting, businesslike relationship.
3) Expect the professionals you hire to spend at least some of their time
teaching you and explaining complex concepts. But don't expect to be
spoon-fed or delegate all decisions to them. Take a course at the local
community college in recordkeeping and taxes or public relations to develop
more skill in areas where you are inexperienced. 4) Keep your appointments
and pay your bills promptly.
To find a lawyer who is familiar with businesses of your size and type, ask
for a referral from a business colleague, your accountant, the local
A lawyer can help you decide which is the most advantageous business
structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation). He or she can
help you with zoning, permit, or licensing problems; health inspection
problems; unpaid bills; contracts and agreements; patents, trademarks,
copyright protection; and some tax problems. Because there is always the
possibility of a lawsuit, claim, or other legal action against your
business, it is wise to have a lawyer who is already familiar with your
business before a crisis arises. A lawyer experienced with your type of
venture should also advise you on laws, programs, and agencies--(federal,
state, and local)--that help small businesses through loans, grants,
procurement set-asides, counseling, and other ways. He or she will tell you
about unexpected legal opportunities and pitfalls that may affect your
In choosing a lawyer, experience and fee should be related. One lawyer may
charge an hourly rate that, at first, looks cheaper than another lawyer's.
However, because of a lack of experience in some area, the less expensive
lawyer may charge a larger fee in the long run. Ask for a resume and check
references. If you feel overwhelmed, take a trusted friend to the initial
meeting to help you keep on track as you interview the lawyer about
services and fees.
If you retain a law firm, be sure you understand who will work on your case
and who will supervise the work. If junior lawyers handle your work, the
fees should be lower. That's fine as long as you know an experienced
attorney will be reviewing the case periodically.
Let your lawyer know that you expect to be informed of all developments and
consulted before any decisions are made. You may also want to receive
copies of all documents, letters, and memos written and received in your
case or have a chance to read them in the lawyer's office.
Ask the attorney to estimate the timetable and costs of your work. You may
wish to place a periodic ceiling on fees, after which he or she would call
you before proceeding to do work that would add to your bill. Always have a
written retainer agreement, describing just what you and the lawyer expect
of each other.
Most businesses fail not for lack of good ideas or good will, but rather
for lack of financial expertise and planning. Look for an accountant as you
would an attorney. Get referrals from trusted friends, business
associations, or professional organizations. Discuss fees in advance and
draw up a written agreement about how you will work together. Your
accountant (along with your lawyer) can advise about initial business
decisions, such as the form of the business. Your accountant will help set
up your books, draw up and analyze profit and loss statements, advise on
financial decisions (e.g., buying a computer), and give advice on cash
requirements for your start-up phase. He or she can make budget forecasts,
help prepare financial information for a loan application, and handle tax
Accounting firms offer a variety of services. If this is not an easy area
for you, the fees you pay will be well worth it. Most firms will maintain
books of original entry, prepare bank reconciliation statements and post
the general ledger, prepare balance sheets and income statements on a
quarterly or semi-annual basis, and design and implement various accounting
and recordkeeping systems.
They will also get your federal and state withholding numbers for you, give
instructions on where and when to file tax returns, prepare tax returns,
and do general tax planning for the small business person.
Your accountant is your key financial advisor. He or she should alert you
to potential danger areas and advise you on how to handle growth spurts,
how to best plan for slow business times, and how to financially nurture
and protect your business future.
State and Federal Laws That May Apply to Your Business
Most localities have registration and licensing requirements that will
apply to you. A license is a formal permission to practice a certain
business activity, issued by a local, state, or federal government. You may
have the type of business that requires a permit from the local
authorities. There is often a small fee for licenses and permits (usually
$15-25). A license may require some kind of examination to certify that the
recipient is qualified. Your business name must be registered and a sales
tax number must be obtained. Separate business telephones and bank accounts
are usually required. Of course, you will want to have the latter anyway
for accurate bookkeeping purposes, If you have employees, you are
responsible for withholding income and Social Security taxes. You must also
pay worker's compensation and unemployment insurance and comply with
minimum wage and employee health laws.
If your operations are intrastate, you will be concerned primarily with
state and local, rather than federal, licensing. Businesses frequently
subject to state or local control are retail food establishments, drinking
places, barber shops, beauty shops, plumbing firms, and taxi companies.
They are primarily service businesses and are subject to regulations for
the protection of public health and morals. Your attorney can help you make
sure you have complied with all licensing and permit requirements.
Depending on your type of business you may have to comply with building and
safety codes, too.
Think twice about the liabilities of operating without proper licenses and
registrations. If you begin to advertise or are fortunate enough to "make
the news" in some way, you will probably hear from a local official. You
will pay with embarrassment, time, and money if your business is not
If you find legal regulations, permits, and licenses confusing, make sure
you find some way to get the information you need to operate legally. Get
help from your lawyer, accountant, business partner, or even your local
librarian. This is not an aspect of business operations that can be delayed
until you "get around to it." Your business reputation and financial
standing are at stake.
Understanding the Financial Side
Who Needs Financial Planning? You do! All businesses run on money for the
purpose of making money. A major reason for business failure is the lack of
financial planning. Although it is nearly impossible to make exact
estimates, approximate ones will help. The very process of thinking through
these financial questions will develop your business acumen and lead to
solid planning. Get your accountant involved in reviewing your plans and
advising you, too.
Estimating Start-Up Costs
Begin your financial planning by estimating your initial or start-up costs.
Include all items of a nonrecurring nature such as fees, licenses, permits,
franchise fees, insurance, telephone deposit, tools, equipment, office
supplies, fixtures, installation of fixtures and equipment, remodeling and
decorating, funds for your opening promotional event if you plan to have
one, signs, and, of course, professional fees for your attorney and
Depending on your type of operation, the amount of money you invest, and
the energy you expect to put in (part-time to full-time) can determine how
much working capital you will need. Many business experts say if you expect
a profit in six months, double that time and be ready to operate without
profits for twelve months to give yourself a cushion in case of
unanticipated expenses or delays. Study the growth patterns of other
similar business and ask for advice from your accountant and attorney.
Projecting Operating Income and Expenses
Next, estimate the "working" capital you will need to keep operating for
six to twelve months. Operating expenses include salaries; expenses for
telephone, light, heat, office supplies, and other supplies or materials;
debt interest; advertising fees; maintenance costs; taxes; legal and
accounting fees; insurance fees; business membership fees; and special
services expenses, such as secretarial, copying, and delivery service.
It is a good idea to obtain typical operating ratios for the kind of
business in which you are interested. Among the sources for such ratios are
Robert Morris Associates, Dun & Bradstreet, Inc., the Accounting
Corporation of America, trade associations, publishers of trade magazines,
specialized accounting firms, industrial companies (for example, National
Cash Register Co.), and colleges and universities. The typical ratios for
your type of business combined with your estimated sales volume will serve
as benchmarks for estimating the various items of expense. However, do not
rely exclusively on this method for estimating each expense item. Modify
these estimates through investigation and quotations in the particular
market area where you plan to operate.
In addition to business operating capital, you will need to plan for
reserve capital to cover personal expenses. This estimate will include all
your normal living expenses, such as food, household expenses, car
payments, rent or mortgage, clothing, medical expenses, entertainment, and
taxes for you and your family.
After you have estimated start-up costs, working or operating capital
needed for six to twelve months, and personal expenses and obligations, you
may see that you need more start-up capital than you thought. What will you
do? Discuss this with your accountant, attorney, and trusted business
associates and family. Entrepreneurs secure needed capital in a variety of
ways. You can:
* Get loans or gifts from family members or friends. Make
businesslike, written agreements and be sure to disclose
fully the potential risk as well as the possible profit.
* Apply for a bank loan. For this you will need a
comprehensive statement of your personal financial condition
and a business plan with financial projections to present
to the loan officer. If you need help in preparing your loan
application, take a course for small business people at a
local community college or visit your nearest SBA office
to get assistance from a SCORE counselor.
* Apply for an SBA loan guarantee. The SBA is not a bank,
but it does extend guarantees and may rarely participate
in a loan when the bank is unable or unwilling to provide
the entire financing itself. The SBA loan officer will ask
you the same hard questions as a loan officer in a
commercial bank and require the same carefully considered
data on your personal finances, start-up costs, and
* Search for some sort of venture capital. For start-up
entrepreneurs some prior managerial or entrepreneurial
track record is usually necessary in order to get venture
capital. The main disadvantage of venture capital is that
you will probably have to give up between 50 to 90
percent ownership of the new business in return for the
capital. A home business is extremely unlikely to attract
Understanding Your Balance Sheet
Your Balance Sheet is a summary of the status of your business--i.e., its
assets, liabilities, and net worth--at an instant in time. By reviewing
your Balance Sheet along with the Profit and Loss Statement and Cash-Flow
Statement, you will be able to make informed financial and business
The Balance Sheet is drawn up using the totals from the individual accounts
kept in your General Ledger. It shows what you have left when you pay all
your creditors. Assets less liabilities equal capital or net worth. The
assets and liabilities sections must balance--hence the name Balance Sheet.
It can be produced quarterly, semi-annually, or at the end of each calendar
or fiscal year.
While your accountant will be most helpful in drawing up your Balance
Sheet, it is you who must understand it. Current assets are anything of
value you own such as cash, inventory, or property that the business owner
can convert into cash within a year; fixed assets are things such as land
and equipment. Liabilities are debts the business must pay. They may be
current (such as amounts owed to suppliers or your accountant) or they may
be long-term (such as notes owed to the bank). Capital (also called equity
or net worth) is the excess of your assets over your liabilities.
Prepare a Balance Sheet for your new business during the planning phase to
estimate its financial condition at that time and also a projected one for
the first year of business. This will help you decide on the feasibility of
your venture and make modifications to ensure profitability. You can also
use these statements as part of the documentation in a loan application.
Understanding Your Profit and Loss Statement
Your Profit and Loss Statement is a detailed, month-by-month tally of the
income from sales and the expenses incurred to generate the sales. It is a
good assessment tool because it shows the effect of your decision on
profit. It is a good planning tool because you can "try out" decisions on
paper before actually going ahead.
The Profit and Loss Statement includes four kinds of information:
* The Sales information lists the number of units sold and
the total revenues generated by the sales.
* The Direct Expenses category includes the cost of labor,
materials, and manufacturing overhead (but not normal
* Indirect Expenses are the costs you have even if the
product is not produced or the service is not delivered. They
include the fixed costs or normal overhead of salaries,
rent, utilities, insurance, depreciation, office supplies,
taxes, and professional fees for your lawyers and
* Income or Profit is the last category on the
Profit and Loss Statement. It is shown both as pre-tax and after-tax
or net income. The IRS will look at your pre-tax figure,
whereas your loan officer and you are more concerned
with your after-tax figure.
Your Profit and Loss Statement should be prepared at the very minimum once
a year--and more often in the beginning or growth stages of your business.
It is a key document from which the economic health of a business can be
determined. Make certain you do it properly and understand its meaning.
Understanding Your Cash Flow Statement
Your business must have a healthy cash flow to survive. Cash flow is the
amount of money available in your business at any given time. To keep tabs
on cash flow, forecast the funds you expect to disburse and receive over a
given period of time. Then you can predict deficiencies or surplus in cash
and decide how to respond.
A cash flow projection serves one other very useful purpose in addition to
planning. As the actual information becomes available to you, compare it to
the monthly cash flow estimates you previously made to see how accurately
you are estimating. As you do this, you will be giving your self
on-the-spot business training in making more accurate estimates and plans
for the coming months. As your ability to estimate improves, your financial
control of the business will increase.
The creative business owner works with his or her accountant to use the
information gleaned from all of these financial tools to make a variety of
managerial decisions--decisions on buying supplies, expansion, when to hire
more employees, how to get the best tax breaks, and many other important
steps that will shape the future of the business.
Make it Easy on Yourself
Successful home-based business owners learn from experience--their own and
that of others. In Jeffry A. Timmon's study of entrepreneurial personality
characteristics (New Venture Creation: A Guide to Small Business
Development), he notes that entrepreneurs are disappointed but not
discouraged by failure. They use failures as learning experiences and try
to understand their role in causing the failure in order to avoid similar
problems in the future. Furthermore, Timmons asserts, entrepreneurs seek
and use feedback on their performance in order to take corrective action
How to Learn From Experience
You can learn from experience in several ways:
First, work closely and creatively with professional advisors, such as your
lawyer and your accountant. As you continually review your business
records, you will see "mistakes," but you will also begin to develop skill
in planning and managing.
Second, continue to learn about all areas of business operations,
constantly acquiring new ideas. Most community colleges have short,
inexpensive, practical courses for business owners in topics like
"Financing a Small Business," "Choosing a Small Business Computer," and
"Starting and Operating a Home-Based Business."
Third, get to know other business owners with similar needs or problems.
Talking with others may be a way to avoid repeating the mistakes they have
made and benefiting from their experience. Local and national organizations
offer membership, social events, networking opportunities, newsletters, and
seminars for home-based business owners. Through these organizations you can
often advertise your product or service to other business owners. They also
provide a way to learn about services you may need, such as accounting,
public relations, or a responsible secretarial service. These organizations
offer updates in such areas as taxes and zoning in their newsletters and
Finding and Using Resources, Networks, and Support Groups
Start out with the attitude "Whatever my current business problem, I can
find the solution. Somewhere there is information, a book, a person, an
organization, or a government agency that can help." A word of warning
though: finding resources and building networks can be very time-consuming.
Joining organizations can turn out to be expensive, especially if you are
too busy to use their services and support once you join. So use this list
to organize your search for resources useful to you, then pick and choose
carefully what you decide to read, join, buy, or attend:
Your Public Library: Visit your local library. Get to know its resources.
In addition to books, many libraries offer free workshops, lend
skill-building tapes, and become a central place to pick up catalogues and
brochures describing continuing education opportunities for business
owners. Ask the librarian for current copies of zoning regulations. Get
familiar with new books and resources in your field (computers, health
care, crafts, etc.) as well as in business skills (advertising techniques,
financing, etc.) Look for magazines such as In Business, Black Enterprise,
Venture, or The Journal of Small Business Management. Reading selectively
is free. Subscribing to too many magazines may be expensive.
Organizations: A wide variety of local and national organizations have
sprung up to serve the informational, lobbying, and networking needs of
business entrepreneurs. Through meetings, services, or newsletters, groups
such as the National Association of Women Business Owners, American
Entrepreneurs Association, Business and Professional Women's Club, National
Alliance of Home-based Businesswomen, and the National Association for
Cottage Industry offer members everything from camaraderie to valuable
"perks," such as group rates on health insurance. David Gumpert's book, The
Insider's Guide to Small Business Resources, has addresses of many of these
groups and other information on such resources.
Government Resources: Contact your local or district office of the U.S.
Small Business Administration (SBA) to learn about SBA services and
publications. The SBA also offers free or inexpensive workshops and
counseling through SCORE is a volunteer program sponsored by the SBA
through which retired executives who have management expertise are linked
with owners/managers of small business or prospective entrepreneurs who
The Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Department of Defense
(procurement), Department of Labor, IRS (ask for the free "Business Tax
Kit"), Federal Trade Commission, and the Government Printing Office all
have publications and services to inform and support you. Local and state
government offices may also have services to help you. Addresses will be
available in your telephone book, under U.S. Government, at your public
library, or at the SBA office near you.
Community colleges: Most community colleges now have short, inexpensive,
noncredit programs for entrepreneurs. The classes usually are convenient to
business owners and are taught by experienced owners and managers.
As a home-based business person you can overcome feelings of isolation and
give and receive valuable information if you tap into networks and
resources. Being active in professional and trade associations will help to
build a good marketing network for your service or product. Take the time
and invest the money for memberships. Then continually evaluate which
organizations and resources best serve your business information and
Managing Time and Stress
Expect to encounter stress and time problems similar to those of other
business owners but accentuated by the fact that you work at home. Follow
these guidelines to make it a little easier on yourself:
1) Plan your time and establish priorities on a daily "to do" list. Decide
what your "prime time" is and do your most important or difficult tasks.
Set "business hours," specific times when you are at work and times
when you turn on the answering machine because you are "on duty but off
call." You, your customers, and your family will appreciate knowing your
set routine, even though you know that for special events or emergencies
you can break that schedule.
2) Notice what your four or five big time-wasters are and learn techniques
to eliminate them or compensate for them. Some common ones are: telephone
interruptions, visitors, socializing, excessive paperwork, lack of policies
and procedures, procrastination, failure to delegate, unclear objectives,
poor scheduling, lack of self-discipline, and lack of skill in a needed
3) Stay in contact with people. Even though you prefer to work at home, you
should plan work-related or social activities that provide frequent contact
with others. This will help your morale if you feel isolated. Even for
home-based business owners who like feeling isolated, keeping up with
business and professional contacts is a must.
4) Build a fitness program into your day. Many successful entrepreneurs
exercise in order to think creatively because physical activity sends
oxygen to the brain and helps the mind function better. With regular
exercise your health will improve, your stress level will go down, and your
trim look will inspire people to have confidence in your abilities.
5) Give your home business as much of a separate and distinct physical
identity as possible. Although you might save a few dollars by using the
ironing board as a bookshelf and a cardboard box as a file cabinet, the
stress and strain of operating without proper space and supplies will take
its toll. Have a separate room or area for your business, with a separate
entrance if customers or suppliers visit. Consider soundproofing so your
family won't be bothered by your noise and vice versa. (In addition to the
psychological and physical comfort of having a separate office, the IRS
requires it in order for you to make a legitimate claim for tax deductions.)
6) Take care of your major business asset: YOU. Being the boss can be
exciting, fulfilling, and rewarding. It can also be lonely, stressful, and
demanding. Learn to balance your professional and personal life. Go on
vacation. Get a weekly massage. Join a health club. Take a class in
meditation. Attend a business owner's breakfast club. Your business depends
on you to be at your best.
Profile: Jeanette's Day-Care Center
Jeanette wanted to return to work when her two children started school.
Since her degree was in child psychology, she applied for a job as an
assistant at a neighborhood day-care center. When she heard the salary, she
decided there must be a better way. After several months of planning and
researching, she decided to open her own day-care center in her basement
recreation room. With remodeling she could accommodate the children and
meet the zoning and licensing regulations. Four years later, her center has
an excellent reputation and a long waiting list. She likes being "at home"
and working in the business half-days while attending school for a graduate
degree in business administration.
Profile: Wallflowers, A Wallpapering Partnership
Thirteen years ago Jane and Rachel bought a van together and formed
"Wallflowers," a wallpapering and painting business. When they started,
Rachel was recently divorced and wanted to test her entrepreneurial wings.
She had quite a reputation with her friends for doing beautiful
wallpapering and was often asked by them to help out on weekend remodeling
jobs. Jane had little wall-papering experience but had handled all the
accounting for her uncle's contracting firm and knew local suppliers and
They have never had to advertise. Word-of-mouth referrals have kept them
busy ten months of the year. They close for two months in the summer so
Jane can be with her kids and Rachel can go to Maine. Jane likes working
"around" her family; if a child is sick or has a school program she'd like
to attend, she doesn't have to apply for leave or fear losing her job. Her
clients, mostly family-oriented people such as herself, understand that her
children come first and the job will get done.
For Further Information
U.S. Small Business Administration Publications
The following Business Development Booklets, are available from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington,
D.C. 20402. Write for current prices on order form SBA 115B.
Handbook of Small Business Finance--Small Business Management Series No. 15.
Ratio Analysis for Small Business--Small Business Management Series No. 20.
Guides for Profit Planning--Small Business Management Series No. 25.
Starting and Managing a Small Business of Your Own--Starting and Managing
Series No. 1.
The following Business Development Pamphlets are available for a small
processing fee. Write the Small Business Administration, P.O. Box 15434,
Fort Worth, TX 76119 for order form 115A, which lists the publications and
The ABC's of Borrowing--MA 1.001
What Is the Best Selling Price?--MA 1.002
Keep Pointed Toward Profit--MA 1.003.
Basic Budgets for Profit Planning--MA 1.004.
Accounting Services for Small Service Firms--MA 1.010.
Analyze Your Records to Reduce Costs--MA 1.011.
Getting the Facts for Income Tax Reporting--MA 1.014.
Budgeting in a Small Business Firm--MA 1.015.
Sound Cash Management and Borrowing--MA 1.016.
Keeping Records in Small Business--MA 1.017.
Checklist for Profit Watching--MA 1.018.
Simple Breakeven Analysis for Small Stores--MA 1.019.
Profit Pricing and Costing for Services--MA 1.020.
Problems in Managing a Family-Owned Business--MA 2.004.
Business Life Insurance--MA 2.009.
Planning and Goal Setting for Small Business--MA 2.010.
Checklist for Going Into Business--MA 2.016
Thinking About Going Into Business--MA 2.025.
How to Get Started With a Small Business Computer--MA 2.027
Techniques for Problem Solving--MA 3.010.
Learning About Your Market--MA 4.019.
Incorporating a Small Business--MA 6.003
Selecting the Legal Structure for Your Business--MA 6.004
Women's Handbook--MA 5.
Small Business Bibliographies
Home Businesses--SBB 2.
Selling By Mail Order--SBB 3.
Marketing Research Procedures--SBB 9.
National Directories for Use in Marketing--SBB 13.
Recordkeeping Systems--Small Store and Service Trade--SBB 15.
Basic Business Reference Sources--SBB 18.
Financial Management--SBB 87.
Marketing for Small Business--SBB 89.
Ideas Into Dollars (Inventors' Guide)--SBB 91.
Decision Making in Small Business--SBB 94.
Be Your Own Boss: The Complete, Indispensable, Hands-on-Guide to Starting
and Running Your Own Business. Shilling, Dana. Penguin Books.
Cater From Your Kitchen. Blanchard, Marjorie P. 1981. Bobbs-Merrill.
Consulting: The Complete Guide to a Profitable Career. Kelley, Robert E.
Earn Money At Home. Davidson, Peter. 1981. McGraw-Hill.
Entrepreneurial Mothers. Gillis, Phyllis. 1984. Rawson Associates.
Homebased Businesses. Feldman, Beverly N. (editor). 1982. Till Press.
Home, Inc. Feldstein, Stuart. 1981. Grosset and Dunlap.
Homemade Money: The Definitive Guide to Success in a Home Business. Brabec,
Barbara. 1983. Artisan Crafts.
Home Work: The Stay-at-Home Money Book. Judge, Vira H. 1977. Deseret Books.
How To Start A Business in Your Home and Grow. Willt, Bud. 1980. But Witt.
How To Start and Run a Successful Home Typing Business. Glenn, Peggy. 1980.
How To Start a Profitable Typing Service at Home. Montaperto, Nicki. 1981.
Barnes & Noble.
Insider's Guide to Small Business Resources. Gumpert, David E. 1982.
Invest In Yourself: A Woman's Guide to Starting Her Own Business. Moran,
Mind Your Own Business At Home. Bimonthly newsletter. P.0. Box 14850,
Chicago, IL 60614.
National Home Business Report. Bimonthly newsletter. Brabec, Barbara.
New Venture Creation, A Guide to Small Business Development. Timmons,
Jeffry, et. al. 1977. Richard D. Irwin
The #1 Home Business Book. Delany, George and Delany, Sandra. 1981. Liberty
The Small Business Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide In Starting and Running
Your Own Business. Burstiner, Irving. 1979. Prentice-Hall.
Turn Your Kitchen into a Goldmine. Howard, Alice. 1981. Harper & Row.
Women And The Business Game Strategies for Successful Ownership. Taylor,
Charlotte. 1980. Simon and Schuster.
Women Working at Home: The Homebased Business Guide and Directory, Behr,
Marion. 1981. WWH Press.
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