Just a few months ago, Vernetta R. Freeney won a PeopleFund grant, allowing her to expand her business increase her impact. PeopleFund is a non-profit that supports female, veteran and minority-owned businesses in Texas.
In an exclusive interview, Vernetta shares with us how she won this grant competition, what made her stand out, and how other small business owners can win grants as well.
What does your business do?
Women are Gamechangers is a service provider. I host live events for women entrepreneurs, particularly those who work from home, to help them learn ways to connect to the people and resources they need to grow their business. Being an entrepreneur who works from home, I notice there is a lack of networking events specifically for women like me. As a speaker and blogger, it is imperative that I share knowledge with women who may not know who or how to connect with others as well as resources to take advantage of.
How did you learn about this grant?
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I learned about this grant from a workshop I held. I asked a PeopleFund representative to be the Keynote Speaker. During her presentation she had us go to the website and told us all about the grant. In fact, I didn’t know too much about grants for small businesses before then.
What did you have to do to compete for this grant?
PeopleFund was hosting a Business Plan Video Competition to win a Seed Grant to either start or expand a business. I read and re-read the criteria and requirements for a couple of weeks. Mainly, they wanted to know specifically about what your business does, how the grant would impact your business and what sets your business a part from your competitors. I worked on crafting my message to fit the criteria exactly. I posted my video and within 36 hours I was announced as the winner.
Why do you think you won? What made did your business stand out?
I was told I won due to the content of what Women Are Gamechangers does. I stood out because I spoke the truth about what direction I am taking my company. The best way I can put it is I stuck to what they specifically asked for. I did not try to elaborate with unnecessary information. I stuck to what was asked and laid out my vision.
How did receiving this grant change your business?
I am now able to expand outside of Houston, TX. That way the reason I applied for the grant. I want to be able to host live events in other cities. I am currently working on planning Fusion events in other cities and partnering with other women entrepreneurs. I have also been able to share my experience through my Facebook and Twitter chat and a blog post. Information is out there but it takes someone who has gone through the process to share with others.
What advice do you have for other small business owners who are seeking funding?
It is important to read and re-read the requirements for the grant. They are looking for only that information. Keep either your video or written response simple and to the point. Practice or write rough drafts of every answer before you submit. Ask someone else to listen to what you have to say. Be confident in what you sell, they will be able to see the authenticity in it. This wasn’t the first grant I applied to. So if you don’t win the first time, apply to others. There is money out there for small business. Just do your research.