Sometimes raising the capital for a new coworking space or growing your existing operation is doable with a grant. Explore creative options and...
Funding ideas to open a new coworking space with grants
The origin story of many new coworking space operations looks a lot like this: an entrepreneur had a need they couldn’t get met anywhere else. So they created the solution they wanted.
This is how it happened for the coworking operators and managers we talk to and work with, such as Blush Coworking, Notary II Notary, Lime Tree Work Shop, Birch Road, Refinery 46, and Palette Community.
So once you decide to open a coworking space, you’ll need capital. And since you may not have a gigantic pile of cash sitting around to fund your new venture, there are other options.
A new coworking space is an exciting venture and can be very successful if planned out correctly. Building the right team, managing your overhead costs, and finding the right space are all important components of creating a great business model for your new endeavor.
During this process, access to capital may seem like an uphill climb — especially in our current economic climate. But, never fear! There are multiple grant opportunities that can help provide necessary funds as well as other resources to grow your business venture further. So let’s explore different ways you can get funded when starting or opening a new coworking space.
Overview of the types of grants available for new businesses
If you've always dreamed of starting a small business, owning a coworking space can be an innovative and inspiring way to tap into the local community. Setting up a unique space for entrepreneurs to share ideas and collaborate together can be incredibly rewarding. To help people achieve their goals of opening a small business or creating a coworking space, there are small business grants available from federal and state governments as well as private organizations and charities.
Grants are a great source of funding for new small business owners, and in particular for those wanting to create new coworking spaces. Not only do grants allow new entrepreneurs to get the funds needed to support their new space, but they can also bring money from other public or private sources into the venture.
With this influx of additional money, new coworking space owners have the chance to expand their offerings and build strong communities. Despite what many entrepreneurs might think about applying for grants, there are no secrets involved — the application process is typically straightforward and can be researched easily online. Of course, successful grant applications often depend on well-written proposals that explain the business concept effectively and show why funding would make an impactful difference in your new venture.
From small startup funds to large grants designed to further strengthen small businesses, an array of grants exist for those wishing to start their own business or create an impact in their local community through a coworking space.
For example, that’s how the Mancinis did it with their space, Mohawk CoWork. Their coworking space was supported by a $75,000 Small Business Assistance grant through the state Division of Homes and Community Renewal and a $25,000 Main Street Revitalization Program grant through National Grid.
Another example is MassDevelopment and the Collaborative Workspace Program. Eligible organizations were encouraged to apply for seed grants of up to $15,000 to study the feasibility of new co-working spaces or development grants of up to $100,000 for new equipment or building improvements. And operations like the Blake Annex received a roughly $1 million federal grant to help the organization grow and welcome more nonprofits.
How to find and apply for grants to launch a new coworking space
When you’re on the hunt for grant dollars to open your new space, it’s best to start local. Specialty grants can be found depending on specific community needs, such as creating more job and educational opportunities, revitalizing neighborhoods, or introducing sustainable practices.
These grants can provide additional financial support and guidance to those seeking to run their own coworking space. With research and dedication, opening your very own coworking space may not be as hard as it seems!
For example, here are some helpful search terms to use in the early stages of your research:
"Small business grants"
"Business grants for women"
"Business grants for minorities"
"Business grants for veterans"
"Business start up grants"
"Grants for small businesses"
"Federal small business grants"
"Small business grant programs"
"Small business grant application"
"State small business grant programs"
"Government small business grants"
"Local small business grants"
"Foundation small business grants"
"Nonprofit small business grants"
Search grant databases like GrantWatch to find available grants in your area. GrantWatch is an online hub for over 26,000 grants in the US and Canada, where you can easily browse different funding opportunities by filtering by detail.
Before digging into the grant application process, make sure you've checked that the grant is a good fit for your organization. Don't forget to contact program officers with any questions — their expertise can be invaluable in helping craft an effective proposal! Do some digging to find out what other businesses have been funded by them and how much money they were awarded; this will give you valuable insight into what successes could look like for your project or venture.
And work with a grant writer, if possible. Your impact statement must stand out from the crowd — you should be able to describe the specific ways in which people will be positively affected by investing resources towards achieving goals connected to yours (and don’t forget those attainable objectives!). Finally, review all required attachments carefully before submitting. Create a timeline if necessary so nothing slips through the cracks during these crucial steps of applying successfully! We’ll go into the features of a successful grant application even more below.
Features of successful grant applications
Starting a coworking space is an exciting yet daunting prospect, and one of the best ways to launch your small business or entrepreneurial venture is to gain access to grants and other related funding sources.
The application is about the past and the future. A successful grant application relies heavily on the applicant’s ability to effectively list your accomplishments in order to prove that you are qualified for the funding you seek. It’s also about being able to paint a clear picture of the value and impact your space will have on the local community or target membership.
When putting together a grant application, it is important to research the areas of funding applicable to you, present compelling arguments, and include supporting evidence that highlights personal successes as well as makes a strong case for why you need the financial aid.
Requirements for the different types of grants
Sometimes the grants are for general business. Sometimes they are for specific communities. And sometimes, there are even grants specifically for new coworking spaces.
When looking into getting startup grants, you'll want to understand each grant's requirements which generally include aspects such as business or membership size, amount of funding applied for, and time length of membership in the new venture. Although opening a new space can seem daunting at first, researching available grants can be incredibly beneficial and help get your new venture off on the right foot — and even become the foundation of your new business.
Open a new coworking space with help from Uncle Sam
You may be able to get some financial help for your new operation from the United States government. Grants.gov is the official site for grant applications, and searching through its wide array of programs can be an effective way to explore what money may be available to support new coworking spaces.
With comprehensive search filters, you’ll find it easy to find grant options that match your qualifications and focus on new small businesses. They even have tutorials on how to be an ideal application for a small business grant.
The US Chamber of Commerce is also a great resource for information on grants, loans, and small business startup guides.
Keep in mind that not all aid goes directly to small businesses from the federal government. A portion of the funds goes to state and local governments and agencies, non-profit organizations and universities. These agencies, in turn, distribute the funds or use them to provide technical or educational assistance at the local level.
Tips to write compelling grant applications
If you’re ready to get the ball rolling in terms of realizing your coworking plans, it’s crucial that you research the variety of grants available — from government grants to corporate grants — and apply for as many as you are eligible for. Additionally, review past successful grant submissions and pay attention to how they were written in order to make sure yours stands out from the crowd and is as persuasive as possible. With proper research, organization, and passion, you’ll be able to write a winning grant application that will help launch your coworking space into reality!
Government grants will typically require a lengthy application process with specific evidence of the coworking business’s ability to provide value and support to their local community and customer demand. Corporate grants, on the other hand, may focus more on providing support to a new coworking or flex business that align with their current goals or compliment existing offerings.
While government grants offer protection and stability, corporate grants offer industry knowledge and additional resources which can create growth opportunities. Both types of grants can be a great opportunity to help new coworking operations grow, but understanding which one best fits your needs is key.
Make sure the project budget is a direct translation of the tax narrative. If the grant only partially funds your coworking space, also indicate where the remainder of the funding will come from. It is especially important to include additional funds and other funding sources (foundation, government, corporation or other).
Reviewers of your grant will likely consider the sustainability of the project, and evidence of support from other funders will only strengthen the bid. This additional financing shows that the project will probably continue to be funded after the end of the funding period.
Examples of grants that new coworking businesses might apply for
There are numerous examples of state and federal grant programs that have helped open and expand coworking spaces in the past.
The Delaware Division of Small Business recognized 10 small businesses as winners of the sixth round of Encouraging Development, Growth and Expansion (EDGE) grants.
The Tennessee Placemakers Entrepreneurship Fund is a pool of monetary resources dedicated to assisting communities across the state, from rural to urban, to develop and train small businesses and entrepreneurs by allowing them to obtain funds for broad and diverse activities.
The City of Denver dedicated $5 million from its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds allocation from the U.S. Treasury to implement the Business Impact Opportunity Fund program. This program was designed to address specific challenges faced by small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Let’s wrap up!
By researching national and local grant programs for new coworking spaces, you can find a grant that is best for you and your vision. Make sure to follow all the requirements when submitting your application as well as use the tips we mentioned in this blog post to write an impressive grant proposal. Stay inspired by looking at past successful applications that won funding and apply that knowledge towards your own situation.
When you are finally ready to make your dream a reality, Coworks space operating software will help get it off the ground and running at its full potential. Time to take those first big steps — start applying for grants today and open a coworking space of your dreams!