We have all been there. That moment of utter regret when you realize you were in too much of a hurry to read the fine print and now have a mess on your hands. Given the hectic schedule and essential constant multitasking required for running a small business, it is not surprising that this is an avoidable error many entrepreneurs make when applying for funding through grants. Solicitations are often lengthy and have the tendency to make even the proudest logophile reach for the dictionary to gain a full understanding of the content. In spite of this, it is so critical to read, re-read, and re-re-re-read the solicitation for any funding to which you intend to apply.
Each opportunity is different. Each agency and funder has its own set of best practices, and these can differ greatly from one organization to the next. In addition to agency differences, each individual solicitation will come with its own nuances, restrictions, best practices, and so on. To understand what you are signing up for and to learn how to apply properly (“Properly” = follow the rules when applying or your proposal will be immediately denied regardless of intellectual merit), it is necessary to read and understand the entire solicitation.
The Information Within
The information found within the solicitation will answer all frequently asked questions about the opportunity. Examples include the due date, award amount, proposal format, topic areas, program contacts, and more. reading the solicitation is the only way to know for sure if the opportunity is even a good fit or worth the small businesses concern’s time to apply. The proposal format is one important piece of information found in the solicitation that many hopeful awardees overlook. Most solicitations will provide guidelines regarding font size and type, margins, content requirements, and page limitations. Proposals that breach stated page limitations will be discarded before they are reviewed, or in the case of many electronic proposal submission systems, will be unable to submit in the first place.
Reading the solicitation for every proposal is one way to gain an advantage over the highly competitive landscape of government funding.
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