Gift Basket Articles

Show Me the Grant Money

By Shirley George Frazier

Where’s the free money to start your gift basket business?

Is there such a thing, or must you amass your start-up capital the old-fashioned way -- by saving, mortgaging your home a second time or borrowing from family members and friends who believe in your dream?

A gift basket business is a profit-based venture that takes money to build. The money needed is used to purchase the one thing that sets us apart from most service businesses, and that one thing is inventory.

You need inventory to practice making gift baskets, to show prospects multiple gift ideas and to take photographs of completed baskets for print literature and other marketing materials.

Aside from inventory, you must also purchase office equipment such as a computer, printer, fax, second telephone and its installation, office supplies and furniture. If you already have equipment, that’s one less area to finance, but you can’t sidestep purchasing baskets, foods, gifts, shred, enhancements, cellophane or shrink wrap and shipping supplies.

The costs seem to skyrocket faster than you can blink, and there’s always something else to buy. That brings us back to the question of free money. Does it exist?

Well, I did some research. I went to a New York-based grant center and spent two hours searching through the definitive book on grants. If free money exists for profit-based businesses, it’s listed in this book. I found two grants that individuals can apply for and wrote to both of them for details. Nothing arrived by mail in the following two months. I wrote again. Still, no answer. Why didn’t I call? No telephone numbers were listed with the entries.

Do you still think there’s money out there? Okay, you may be right, but keep in mind that if you find a source, no organization will drop free money into your lap without some type of accountability. You will have to submit a business plan, financial projections or whatever else the institution requests. Here are three potential sources:

1. The company called e-Biz sponsored a scholarship fund for home-based businesses. Amounts ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 are awarded every month to companies that are accepted into the pool of businesses invited to create a Web site using e-Biz In a Box.

2. The Grant Lady looks like she may have some money sources for you, but it will cost you a fee to review the possibilities.

3. Visa sponsors a contest for small businesses. Three winners receive $25,000 each. To enter, visit Visa’s Web site for more information.

In 1999, Michele Petrillo of Baskets-N-Beyond in Dumont, New Jersey, was the first entrepreneurial award winner of a contest sponsored by American Express Small Business Services and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Out of 200 submissions, she won a laptop computer and $10,000. Michele’s win proves that your chances may not be as slim as you think.

Don’t give up looking for grant sources, but focus most of your energies on starting your business the best way possible -- using your own skills, determination and money.

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About the Author:
Shirley George Frazier is known worldwide as "the gift basket expert." Her guidance helps thousands of individuals create the lifestyle of their dreams with gift baskets. Shirley conducts classes, speaks at conferences, and is author of How to Start a Home-Based Gift Basket Business and The Gift Basket Design Book, the industry's best-selling books. Sign up for Shirley's free weekly newsletter at

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