If you are not using the government you are missing out on over 33% of the U.S.market. The government gives out more money, provides more free services and information and buys more services than any other customer in the world. And it is not just the Wall Street financiers and the big banks who learned how to use government resources in their time of need.
Every year over 1 million businesses get Uncle Sam’s money and help to improve their bottom line, and that includes almost every Fortune 500 company. You don’t need a high-priced Washington lobbyist to learn how to take advantage of programs that can increase your profits, you just have to learn how to use the system. Here are 10 opportunities to get your started.
1. $25,000 To Train Your Employees
Every state has grant money to train your employees to complete in world economy. It can be anything from $250,000 to train call center operators to $3,000 to learn a new software program that will increase your sales or productivity. Contact your state department of labor in your state capitol and ask for your local Workforce Development Office.
2. $1.5 Million to Grow Or Move Your Business
If you business has the potential of creating a job the government wants to help. How much money you get depends on the size of your business and your location. The money can be in the form of grants, low interest loans, tax rebates and even venture capital. These incentives come from federal, state and local government programs. Contact your state Office of Economic Development located in your state capitol to start learning what programs are available in your area. You can also contact other states to see what incentives they will offer if you move your business there. Hawaii sounds nice.
3. Free Money and Help For Laid-Off Employees
You don’t have to pay big money to a consulting company to ease your guilt when you have to lay off employees. Government offices are located in most cities that will come to your office and help your employees 1) apply for unemployment benefits; 2) received COBRA subsidies; 3) prepare a resume; 4) help with job searching, and even 5) offer grant money to upgrade their skills so they can get a better job than then one they got fired from. To find out what services are available in your area search for your local One-Stop Career Center at http://www.careeronestop.org/Reemployment/ChangeCareers/FindCareerOneStopCenter.aspx or contact the reference desk at your local public library.
4. Get Reimbursed For Bad Checks
Thousands of dollars are lost every year by businesses due to bad checks. The costs are often passed on to customers through higher prices. Now over half the states had begun a Bad Check Restitution Program to solve this problem. The government will go after these people for free. The government is more powerful than your attorney and they are free. The check usually has to be submitted within 90 to 120 days of the date on the check, The programs are run through the local District Attorney General office out of your State Attorney’s office. Check locally to see what is offered in your area. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Bad Check Restitution Program has returned over $23 million to victims.
5. $15,000 To Learn How To Get Government Contracts
Each year the government gives out about 110,000 business loans worth about $20 billion, but they also give out 4 million contracts worth about $460 Billion. Getting a government contract is like going elephant hunting. Once you bag one you have meat for a long time. And the government also pays some to the best contracting consultants in the world to help you learn the system for free. There is even a grant program (Mentor-Protege) that gives grant money to help small businesses complete the contracting process. There are 250 offices like this all over the U.S. called Procurement Technical Assistance Centers. To find one near you, go to http://www.aptac-us.org/new/ or contact your local congressperson’s office.
6. Cheap Rent, Free Marketing Help And Excellent Contacts to Start A New Venture
Wouldn’t it be great to start a business and get real cheap office space, be in a community of other people starting up new ventures plus have access for free financial information, marketing help, legal advice, etc. You can even be from another country and learn how to expand your business in the USA. They are called Business Incubators and most receive government or non-profit assistance. To find an Incubator in your area contact the National Business Incubator Association at http://www.nbia.org/
7. Money for Your Employees To Buy a Home, Pay for College, or Cover Health Care Expenses
If your employees or co-workers can solve some of the problems that are going on in their personal lives, they can surely contribute more to your bottom line if they don’tt have the worry or have to be away from work. Free services and money programs are available to handle such issues as: Debt and Financial Problems, Tuition for Children, Help Caring For Grandma and Grandpa, Paying for Health Care, or Mortgage and Foreclosure Problems. A good place to start to locate free government money and services is to contact your local congressperson or see if there is a phone referral service in your area by calling 211.
8. $5,000 to Attend A Trade Fair Overseas
The decline of the dollar has made selling overseas a great opportunity for American businesses. Uncle Sam can save you tens of thousands of dollars on consulting services and out of pocket marketing expenses. Federal, state and local programs include money to attend overseas trade shows, money for marketing campaigns, lists of overseas customers and potential partners, background checks on partners, market studies and research reports, and even cheap office space and translation services when visiting overseas. Contact your state office of economic development and tell them you need help selling overseas or go to http://www.ita.doc.gov/
9. Stimulus Funds For Marketers
There is nothing in Obama’s Stimulus that says “Free Money For Marketers”, but when you think that about 2/3rds of the $780 Billion is going to be spent in FY 2010, it is certainly the biggest game in town, and maybe the only game in town. Who else is increasing their spending in this economy. This is likely the biggest budget increase that government bureaucrats has ever seen and they won’t be able to spend it fast enough. There are agencies as well as companies that will be getting these funds which will be needing marketing help. And unlike in the private sector, you can find out who is getting this money and be the first in line to sell your services. Every state has a web site that shows who is getting how much. Contact your governor’s office for details or go to www.recovery.gov
10. Data Better and Cheaper Than High Priced Consultants
Uncle Sam is going to spend $13 Billion on the 2010 Census. And that is only one of the 100 agencies that provide data and trend information on such topics as economic and population trends, crime, education, health care, aviation safety, energy use, farm production and more. There is no business or market market research on earth that will spend a fraction of this kind of money. The big difference between this data and private sector data is the Government Data is free, unless some private companies sell it to you after they get for free. To start looking for your data go to www.FedStats.gov or contact your local State Data Center at http://www.census.gov/sdc/ and tell them what data you are looking for.
11. Money To Green Your Business
$5,000 For Energy Saving Lighting, Free Energy Audits, $500,000 for Energy Saving Heating and Cooling Systems, $30,000 for Using Alternative Fuels, $75 to Buy Duct Tape, or $500 to Install a Waterless Urinal. These are the kinds of federal, state and local incentive programs that your business can take advantage of. For the best place to start to identify programs in your area go to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency – http://www.dsireusa.org/
If you have trouble identifying any of these sources described here, the best place to start for help is your elected official. Politicians, above all other government employees, have the biggest motive for helping you because if they help you get money or the free help you need, you will vote for them no matter what they do in their life.
And Oh Yes. I know. I said 10, but gave you 11. That’s because everything the government has is bigger than you would ever imagine and it’s all FREEEEEEEEEE.
Get 101 of the best grants, loans and free services that America has to offer for your business: http://www.lesko.com/freebusiness
About the Author
This article is written by Matthew Lesko, President, Information USA
New York Times Best Selling Author and Entrepreneur
Author of over 100 book including 2 New York Times Best Sellers
Past Columnist for Good Housekeeping Magazine, The New York Times Syndicate
and The Chicago Tribune
Spokesperson for Microsoft’s MSN