Steps to Get a Business Grant in Ontario: Where to Start & 3 Proven Steps for Success

Business grants have been around for decades, so there are some tried-and-tested steps to ensure success when applying,

Most important is to follow a process that starts broad and then narrows down to the grants that are the closest fit with your business. We call this process the Grants Funnel:

Grants Funnel
Three Steps to Guaranteed Government Grants

In sum, you want to:

  • GATHER a big list of grants
  • FILTER out grants you’re not eligible for
  • FOCUS on the grants that are a close match with your business

Let’s discuss each step in detail:


1. Gather a big list of grants.

There are literally hundreds of grants available to Ontario entrepreneurs. To state the obvious: the more grants on your list, the more potential for free money for you!

The first step is to quickly gather a list of grant programs that your business might be eligible for. The quickest way to do this is to obtain each program’s general eligibility criteria. You can get this through the:

Grant Program Name

Sometimes it’s possible to infer a program’s eligibility just through its name.

For example, Ontario Summer Company is a program that gives $3,000 to students in Ontario to start a summer company. Who would have guessed?

Eligibility criteria on the grant program’s website

The website of the grant program will typically list the top-level eligibility criteria of the program.

Using the Ontario Summer Company program as an example again, from the program’s website you can find out that applicants must be:

  • Students in high school, college, or university
  • Be between the ages of 15-29
  • Returning to school after running a summer business

But that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the grant. A little more digging is required for that (see the next step: Filter)

Use the AAIR framework to gather a big list of grants:

  • Activity grants are business grants that are awarded to support a specific project or activity.
  • Audience grants support businesses that are run by, or focused on serving, a particular audience or demographic group.
  • Industry grants are awarded to support businesses that are involved in a particular industry or sector.
  • Regional grants support businesses that are in a particular region or area.


2. Filter out grants you’re not eligible for.

You (obviously) don’t want to apply for grants that you have no chance of getting – that would be a huge waste of time.

So, after making a big list of grants that you might be eligible for, you then need to dig a little deeper to shortlist the grants that you have the best chance of getting. There are two ways to do this:

Go through the “eligibility” section of each grant’s program guide.

Most grant programs have a detailed guide that explains the purpose and objectives of the program, along with specific eligibility criteria. 

Reach out to the grant agencies directly.

Many grant organizations have program managers who manage every aspect of their grant programs, from intake to review of applications to awarding grants. To increase your chances of success, contact these managers and ask them questions to ensure you’re eligible. 


3. Focus on the grants that are a close match with your business.

Once you have a shortlist of grants that are the closest match with your business’s activities, audiences, industries, and/or regions, you want to focus your time on creating the best application possible for each target grant.

Here are two tips to create a winning application:

Make a one-page plan for your grant application.

A one-page “executive summary” of your application will force you to focus on what’s important.

Organise your documents.

Some grant programs require a lot of supporting documents. Get your documents together in advance, so you’re not scrambling when it comes time to apply.

Here are the typical documents required for a grant application:


Guaranteed Government Grants

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    • Business plan: A detailed plan outlining the objectives, goals, and strategies for the business.
    • Financial statements (for existing businesses): This includes balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements.
    • Articles of incorporation: This is a legal document that establishes the business as a corporation.
    • Proof of ownership: Documentation showing that the applicant owns the business.
    • Business registration: Proof of registration in Ontario.
    • Market research: Information on the target market and competition.
    • Project proposal: A detailed proposal outlining how the grant funds will be used.

    Submit a well-thought-out application.

    By following all of the previous steps, you’ll increase your chances of submitting a strong, organized grant application.

    Bonus Step to Maximize Your Business Funding

    Here’s the one simple step to get all the funding you need for your business:

    Think beyond grants

    As we explore in the next chapter, there’s a universe of funding opportunities available to Canadian businesses, consisting of thousands of programs.

    With such a wide range of funding programs, there are certainly options available for your business.

    You just need to find them!

    And that’s exactly what we help you do in the next chapter…

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