What Are The Key Elements of Successful Online Businesses and Startups?

Why does one business make it and another fail?

Lately I have been thinking about this in my effort to fully develop the last of our six websites. GWI.education.  I wanted to pull the best of elements of the business models from GrantWatch, GrantWriterTeam, YouHelp, GrantNews and MWBEzone and put it all into GWI.education (Grant Writing Institute).

Here are the elements, based upon my personal experience that work for online businesses:

  1. The director of the business must have a strong background in the business' niche market.
    If the director does not, they need to learn as much as they can or hire someone with the expertise needed in that market. 
  2. The market must have a demand for the business. 
    When we can see a void that needs to be filled, that's fantastic as is when we create a demand for something new that people have a need for. This might require educating people as to why they need your product or service. 
  3. People need to want to sign up for more info about your product or service.  
    Make it easy for people to subscribe to your list on your website, emails, advertisements and social media posts. 
  4. The words you use on your website should be the words people use to search for your niche. 
    There's an art and science to choosing the best keywords and phrases and how to use them. See our article on the keys to writing content for your website and blogs that attracts traffic to your website. 
  5. Fresh content daily is key to attract new traffic.
    A blog on your website, or adding and changing content on your website are great, but in edition to the fresh content, you need a way to get the content out to the public, like publishing it on social media as well as sending your list emails regularly, and drive traffic to your site. 
  6. Targeted emails from lists of people who willingly signed up, are your most productive tool for sales.
    In your emails, include information that teaches and benefits your readers in some way. Make sure that you have their permission before adding anyone to your email list. Then, in order to convert subscribers to your email to customers,  make sure you have a clear call to action. It might not be all in the same email. It's recommended to have a content schedule so that readers sometimes just get information, and at other times there's also an opportunity to buy.
  7. Online businesses need 2/3 income from repeat customers and 1/3 from new customers to survive.
    Work to keep your customers coming back. They say it takes three times as much effort and money to get new customers as it does to retain current or previous customers. Don't neglect relationships with the customers you already have. 
  8. Social media builds awareness and name recognition but it is not your sales engine. 
    Having a social media presence is crucial in today's market. In addition, you need an effective means to drive sales, like your email list(s) and advertising. 
  9. People want to speak to a knowledgeable human being – person to person customer service.
    Automate as much as possible, but have someone or a team who answer(s) telephones and set up a system for online chats, manned by real people, on your site. 
  10. Check the security of your website – often, a single link of http can render the entire page insecure.
    Make sure all the codes are working and that links lead to secure pages, especially on pages where people could be making a purchase. 
  11.  Watch someone navigate your site to understand where the confusion is. 
    That person can be a friend, family member, new employee or beta tester, it doesn't matter as long as they thoroughly go through your website and give you honest feedback. 
  12. Remind people when their subscription or the product has expired.
    Prioritize customer retention with timely renewal notices, phone calls and emails about the upcoming expiration of the subscription or product. Make renewing the service as easy as possible. Set up an autorenew system if possible. Always think retention versus so you don't have to think about regaining lost customers. 
  13. Ask people to subscribe to your service or buy your product in your marketing materials.
    People subscribe to email lists and services to learn more or stay up-to-date on the latest about topics that interest them. Many also want to reeive a special offer or gift such as a discount code or free ticket to an event, get access to free content like an e-book not available on the site. 
    Some people would rather get an email than having to remember to go to your website in case new blogs and content have been added. Conversely, emails can remind subscribers to go to visit the website to see everything new being offered or listed. 
  14. Incentivize your employees so they self motivative and evaluate their own productivity.
    Create a bonus plan with a clear structure so they have goals and know how to meet them. 
  15. Customer service with a smile always leads to customer satisfaction.
    A smile can be heard through the phone, chat and an email. 

Does your startup or small business have these elements? Am I missing any? Let me know  – write to me at https://www.grantwatch.com/contact-us.php, comment on social media post or call me at 561 249-4129.

About the Author: Libby Hikind is the CEO of MWBEzone.com.

Sound Sleep and Starting a Consulting Small Business.

Ever wonder about the backstory behind a new start-up business? After getting her son to sleep through the night, friends and acquaintances started asking teacher Dana Obleman for advice in how to get their children to do it too. She soon realized that helping parents solve their children's sleep problems was what she really wanted to do. With all the people asking for her advice, she saw that there was a market for it. As a new mother, Obleman realized she didn't want to go back to work full time so soon, and at the end of her maternity leave, she decided to take a leap and started a business for the first time. With $1000 she borrowed from family, she built a website, got business cards, and within a few months she was making more money working part time doing what she loved than she had as a full-time teacher. Obleman calls it, “The greatest job in the world.” 

With a tried and true successful method, more and more people started contacting Obleman to teach them how to build a consulting business like hers. She was hesitant at first, thinking that she’d be training her competition, but then she realized that the need was so great and she didn’t have enough time to consult one-on-one with everyone who needed help. Since that time, she’s trained over 200 Sleep Sense consultants around the world.  

Unlike other programs, The Sleep Sense Program accommodates different parenting styles, and allows parents to develop a plan they feel comfortable with, based on what they know about their child.  Parents get an easy-to-follow, step-by-step plan that allows them to make choices to determine the right approach for each child, and specific guidance on how to measure success.

Healthy Sleep

Studies show that there are clear benefits to getting enough sleep and developing healthy sleep habits from an early age. Children with healthy sleep habits have been found to do better in school, have higher IQs, lower risk of obesity, better test scores, and (in boys) a lower risk for hyperactivity. Well-rested children are curious, energetic, happy, playful and eager to learn.

Sleep Sense consultants are hand-picked by Sleep Sense creator, Dana Obleman.  Since is inception in 2003, The Sleep Sense Program has helped more than 57,000 parents improve their children’s sleep. 

One such consultant, Cassandra Mosmen's kept hearing friends with children complain how difficult it was to get them to sleep through the night. She decided to be prepared when she was pregnant and started studying up on how to get infants to sleep through the night before she gave birth and avoided this problem as best she could. She started to instill good sleep habits in her daughter as an infant. "It worked and my daughter was a great sleeper. So I started with my other children from day one, and they were great sleepers as well." She noticed that people kept asking her for advice on how to get their children to sleep through the night, and decided this was something she'd like to turn into a consulting business.

After eight years as a stay at home mom, this former early childhood educator decided to follow an entrepreneurial path, committed to helping mother's improve their children's sleep. She looked for the best way to go about starting her sleep consulting business and chose to get certified as a Sleep Sense Pediatric Sleep Consultant. The certification combined with her educational and work experience in early childhood development, enabled Cassandra to help babies and their families get more sleep.

"It's something that can definitely be taught."

Cassandra  chose to go with Dana Obleman's Sleep Sense certification program because she agrees with the Sleep Sense philosophy and methodology and because the training and business model are easy for consultants to follow and build successful businesses. 

toddler sleepingMosmen is working to build her own consultancy brand, Cassandra's Sleep Consulting, modeling the success of her teacher and mentors. She's already built a beautiful website and has a number of clients.

"After undergoing extensive training through the Sleep Sense Certification Program as well as other ongoing sleep education, I have been able to help many families!" 

"Hiring a consultant is very different than just reading a book," Cassandra said.  In addition to their consultations, clients get two to three weeks of phone support and email contact between appointments. 

Benefits to starting your own consulting business:

  • Doing something your passionate about that helps people
  • Being your own boss
  • Greater income potential
  • Not having to answer to anyone else
  • Flexible schedule
  • Ability to be at home for your children and family and not miss any important events.

"I am VERY passionate about what I do. I absolutely love helping families sleep better, because lets face it, sleep is everything!" 

"Sleep when the baby sleeps" is easier said than done! She works with parents of newborns to four year olds to know what to really expect when it comes to sleep (beyond what the books say), and teaches them how to instill healthy sleep habits in their children. 

People starting consulting businesses can often find grants on MWBEzone.com, or use crowdfunding, or apply for loans toward start-up costs or expanding their businesses. Some of the expenses Obleman and Sleep Sense mentors recommend in starting a consulting business include building a website, advertising and promotion, creating awareness for the new business.  While looking and applying for grants some entrepreneurs become proactive and start crowdfunding campaigns on YouHelp.

YouHelp.com, a free fundraising website, offers the best in crowdfunding capabilities to forward-thinking men and women who are looking for funds to start a small business. The process is simple: start a fundraiser, enter your fundraising goal, add a compelling message that donors will find worthwhile — and launch. If the idea is deserving, and you do the sharing-out of your campaign, people will pledge their support.

According to Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch, GrantWriterTeam, GrantNews, MWBEzone and YouHelp, says, that while we have made the process simple to open a YouHelp.com campaign or to search for small business grants on MWBEzone.com, no one succeeds in business without passion, persistence and drive."  Libby advises you to, " Find something you love, something you know well and then do the research before starting a small business."

About the Author: The author is a staff writer for YouHelp and MWBEzone. GrantNews does not endorse any products or services other than its own companies.


Trending Job Opportunities in Arizona

Looking for a job? The Arizona government job directory and employment services will help you decide if looking for a job in the Grand Canyon State is right for you. 

Arizona has many job opportunities. Since the state’s biggest employer is the government, you can count on secure jobs and good paychecks. Apart from this, there are a lot of jobs in the private sector as well. Banner Health provides over 35 thousand jobs in this state alone. In addition to this, salaries are on the rise all over the state. When you add all of this up, it seems that Arizona is a good place for any job seeker.

Before you start looking

Before you decide to go job hunting anywhere, there are some things you’ll need to take care of. These will ensure your search goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Update your resume – keeping your CV up to date is the most important thing to do when job hunting. In addition to this, make sure you only keep relevant information in your resume.
  • Keep your picture professional – even though this seems like a given, many people still get it wrong. The picture on your resume should only be of your face and shoulders. Dress in business attire and make sure that the background is white. Many people missed good job opportunities because of their CV image.
  • Brush up on interview questions – practice answering some interview questions in front of a mirror or get a friend to help you. This isn’t about preparing the answers, but about practicing to sound confident and sure. This will get you a long way with job hunting.

Best job opportunities in Arizona

As we mentioned before, the state of Arizona has a lot to offer business wise. Apart from the fact that the majority of the businesses here are run by the government, there are a lot of financial grants in Arizona. These can help any business grow and provide a lot of employment opportunities.

Medical sector

Some of the best job opportunities in Arizona are tied to medicine. Whether you’re a surgeon, doctor or a medical technician you’ll have no issues finding employment in Arizona. Medical professionals are usually very well paid, but their working hours tend to be rough. However, if you think this is the job for you, you should definitely give it a try!


Find jobs in the medical sector in Arizona

Top IT job opportunities in Arizona

In this age, there are always employment options in the IT sector. Whether it’s server maintenance or general support, a tech guy is necessary in every company, no matter how small. So, if you’re a tech person yourself, this means there’s always a job opportunity for you. Because of the new grants which enabled better internet in the rural areas all over the country, technical support is becoming more needed by the day.

IT board

IT jobs are always in high demand

Law enforcement jobs

Law enforcement jobs abound for qualified job seekers. They're stable though not always the best paid.  Luckily, because of the recent grants for police K9 units, there are a lot of job openings in Arizona’s police. In addition to this, you can find employment opportunities as a special agent in Phoenix. Only if you’re trained to be one, though. These are serious jobs and they require a lot of training and skill.


Law enforcement agencies are hiring in Arizona

The service industry

As in most states, the service industry can offer the most job openings. This is also the case with Arizona. There’s always a need for these jobs. So, if you’re trying to start a new life, or if you’ve moved to AZ for education, you can do these jobs until you find something better. Mind you, some bartenders make six figures a year in Arizona, so these might be jobs worth keeping.

Jobs in education

All of the educational job opportunities in Arizona are very good. However, the best paid ones are in the universities. Three of them are most important: University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University. Getting a job in any of these is not an easy undertaking. They all keep a strict acceptance policy for both their students and their staff. So, make sure you bring your A-game to the job interview! Because getting employment in an Arizona university will be great.

There are a lot of jobs in education in Arizona

Self-employment opportunities

There are a lot of business opportunities in the Grand Canyon State. The reason for this are the government and private grants for small businesses. These help daring entrepreneurs keep up with the giant corporations. Also, these grants will enable you to set up your business almost anywhere in Arizona. You can move your small business here or start a new one, the important thing is that you’ll have help.

When moving to AZ for a job

If you really like some of the job opportunities in Arizona, you can decide to relocate here for a job. If you do something like that, make sure you are prepared for a move! Moving for a job is not easy, especially if you’re moving from far away. So, you might consider hiring a storage unit where you can keep your belongings safe while you move. It wouldn’t be good if you relocate to AZ for a job only to damage or lose your belongings. So, make sure you’re hiring the best and the most reliable storage services you can find. Only when your items are secure will you be able to sleep well and relocate without any issues.



About the Author: Sally Norton is a freelance copywriter based out of Miami, with a flare for writing optimized articles. Her experience is focused on moving, travel, real estate and overall guides to help people with some challenging projects and endeavors. In her spare time, Sally enjoys yoga and walks with her dogs – Mane & Rex.


The Changing Face of the Workforce

Though an illegal practice, ageism is still very much alive in the workplace. Most job applicants over 50 report that they feel a strong bias against them with hiring managers. 

People have all kinds of outdated assumptions about older adults that are not proven. It's time to let them go. Older employees are thought to be more likely to take time off due to health issues and less dependable as well as many other assumptions that have been proven inaccurate in a study by researchers Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott from the London School of Economics. 

Gratton and Scott's findings indicate a radically different reality, as enumerated in their book: The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity. They found older workers to be very reliable, dependable and often more loyal than younger employees. Many are now technologically savvy, overturning another prejudice held against employees over 50, and most of those who aren't are willing to learn and get up to speed if given the opportunity.    

Gratton and Scott surveyed over 10,000 people ages 24 to 80 around the globe, and found that technological advancements and increased longevity have combined to transform the traditional outlook of the adult life span, which included three distinct phases, full time education, full time employment and full time retirement, into a new multistage life view with opportunities to participate in a few of these activities simultaneously. 

They found that 60% of workers are staying up to date in their field through continuing education and training. Older individuals are equally engaged and excited about their work, and are not slowing down. In fact, the younger age group reported significantly more interest in slowing down their life pace than the older group.

For those who would like to go back to school, funding is often an issue. Grants help nonprofit organizations or small businesses provide programming for continuing adult education and workforce training and  individual grants for artists, and grants to re-enter the workforce go directly to the older adult.

If you are seeking a new employee, keep an open mind.  Age is much less relevant than your candidates' experience, the degree to which they have kept up with technological and professional changes, their work ethic and their attitude to new challenges.  Workforce development programs help older individuals go back into the workforce and get the training they need.  

The US. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the employment-population ratio of persons 65 and over has risen from approximately 12% in the mid-1990s to over 19% in 2017 – 2018.  

According to the BLS, about 40 percent of people ages 55 and older were working or actively looking for work in 2014. By 2024, BLS projects about 41 million people in the workforce will be ages 55 and older—with 13 million expected to be ages 65 and older.  Many workers realize they can't afford to stop working and need to supplement their fixed social security income with job earnings in order to manage financially.  

U.S. Labor fores shares by age

Better health, increased longevity, and changes to Social Security benefits and employee retirement plans based on the economic realities they find themselves in post the 2008 economic recession and slow economic comeback, all contribute to people retiring later in life than in previous generations. Financial advisors recommend people continue working until at least 70 to get higher social security benefits than they would if they start taking their benefits earlier.

In addition, many people who take early retirement, report enjoying work too much to give it up or feeling bored by retirement. GrantWatch's inception came after an early retirement from a 30+ year teaching career.  According to Libby Hikind, "About nine months after retirement and taking artist classes, I got a "second wind" and GrantWatch was born." While the CEO of GrantWatch makes this joke, in her post retirement era, Libby created a multi service network of websites that help all facets of the nonprofit and small business community that are taken very seriously in the fundraising world.  

More and more mature people are continuing to change and grow, looking at this new phase of life as an adventure, setting new goals and gaining new, invigorated purpose. They're applying for higher positions, starting new businesses, becoming freelancers, retraining and changing careers, taking time off to travel then going back into the workforce. 

People with higher positions, those who are self-employed, or conversely, those who can't afford to retire due to economic concerns are all continuing to work well past the traditional retirement age or are going back to work after having officially retired from their careers. 

About the Author: The author is a staff writer for GrantWatch.


Counting Sheep: Entrepreneurship Grant Helps Young Farmers Grow Small Businesses

Don’t try to pull the wool over the eyes of this budding entrepreneur. Austin VanHouten knows a little something about sheep.

The 15-year-old plans to transition his sheering skills into a small business or, at the very least, a seasonal job. To help him get started, the Douglas County Farm Bureau awarded the upstart executive a $1,300 Young Entrepreneurship Grant that he will use to purchase a shearing motor, clippers and accessory tools.  

Matthew Brady, the vice president of the Douglas County Farm Bureau, told the Capital Press the grant program assists high school-aged youth to overcome some of the financial obstacles involved with initiating an agricultural project. A previous recipient of the entrepreneurship grant applied the funds to start a small business and purchase asparagus starts, soaker hoses and assorted accessories.

According to the Labor Department, the median age for farmers and ranchers is 55.9 years, second only to “motor vehicle operators” who have a median age of 59.2.

Ben Barron counts himself among the “lost generation” of farmers. Between his job and family, he doesn’t have the time to build a full-time farm. The 39-year-old works at a 2,000-acre organic row crop operation in southwest Missouri with two others and his boss. By his estimates, starting a 15- to 20-acre farm would cost between $100,000 and $300,000, a high price to ask of lenders more interested in more stable markets.

The good news is that MBEzone.com, a service of GrantWatch, lists for small businesses, particularly those that are women and minority owned. Some funding opportunities may help start a farm or small agricultural business. Grants may cover the cost of purchasing land, seed, equipment and the workforce to assist with an eventual harvest. Most agencies will require a small business plan before offering grant assistance.

VanHouten had both the background and an idea. He recognized a need and opportunity when he helped his grandparents tend to their flock in Oakland, Ore. As a member of the Heavenly Ranchers 4-H Club, he slick-sheared numerous lambs for entry at the annual Douglas County Lamb Show.

Shearing can be difficult and back-breaking work and of little interest to most high school students. But, not to VanHouten, who participated in a four-day class to improve his craft by sheering up to 50 sheep a day. With a current flock of 15 ewes, he plans to continue shearing, save money for college and, following graduation, start his own sheep, cattle and pig operation.

For-profit entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, particularly minority-, veteran- and women-owned, frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding for agricultural opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at MWBEzone.com. By registering, subscribers gain access to both MWBEzone.com and GrantWatch.

About the Author: Staff Write for GrantWatch


As Coal Industry Tries to Rebound, Workforce Grants Help Appalachia Diversify Economies and Displaced Miners Find Jobs

Coal mining is in his blood. But, these days, Billy Jack Buzzard has another lifeline.

The seventh-generation miner from rural West Virginia is working in a small town near Charleston, where he is building an app for a project based in Seattle. Billy Buzzard got the new job after completing a coding class offered through Mined Mines, a nonprofit foundation that helps miners in struggling coal-country communities in West Virginia and Kentucky, find work.

GrantWatch helps nonprofits located workforce development grants to serve the community and MWBEzone helps small businesses locate workforce grants.

Mined Mines is funded by grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership that creates self-sustaining opportunities and quality of life improvements in a region long beset by high poverty and unemployment.

In the 205,000-square-mile region that follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi, a way of life that sustained generations is evaporating. 

ARC reports coal production in Appalachia fell by nearly 45 percent from 2005 to 2015. Coal is about to become the comeback kid of energy and displaced miners need work now.

For communities struggling from the coal industry’s downturn, ARC provides funds to help strengthen and diversify their economies through POWER initiative grants.  (While this grant deadline has passed, it is in the GrantWatch archives and can be reviewed and will be reposted again, when it becomes available.) POWER initiative grants aim to bolster the healthcare sector and improve health conditions, increase the number of adults with high school diplomas, enhance access to broadband internet service, foster entrepreneurship and develop industry clusters within the community. 

Energy experts attribute coal’s diminished standing to a rise in inexpensive natural gas combined with more automation in mines and the falling costs of renewable energy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the coal industry lost some 30,000 mining jobs between 2008 and 2016.   

To assist distressed communities and regions impacted by the declining use of coal, GrantWatch also offers access to grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration that provide technical assistance to address a wide variety of economic concerns, namely the creation and retention of jobs and increased private investment.

Many Appalachians reeling from the economic hit have already seen how changes in the regional coal economy can not only touch miners and their families, but everything from supply-chain industries to electric power generation, from transportation to K-12 education funding as well. While Mined Minds is geared toward former coal miners, Appalachians from all walks of life and industries have benefited from the program.

Billy Jack Buzzard is among the fortunate. He says he does and he doesn’t miss coal mining. Getting paid to code from his home, he said, allows him the flexibility to help when his kids are sick and certainly beats working underground.

Academic entities, nonprofits, community-based groups and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities in support of diversifying and strengthening economies impacted by the coal industry's decline at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer at GrantWatch


As Ocean Waters Warm, Maine Agency Offers Grants to Boost Lobster Conservation Research

As soon as the first trap of the day is lifted onto his boat 10 miles off the coast of Portland, Jim Ranaghan is consumed with separating the keepers from the lobsters he will toss back into the ocean. Occasionally, he will pause to measure a lobster or check for a dense cluster of eggs on its tail.

For Ranaghan and Maine lobstermen like him who consider themselves protectors of the state’s signature natural resource, this is how it’s done. Fishery managers are determined to keep it that way.

And what better way than to award grants that will help researchers gain a keener understanding of lobsters. The Maine Department of Marine Resources is awarding six grants totaling $340,000 from the Lobster Research, Education and Development Fund. That money is derived from the sale of lobster license plates.

Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the state agency, says the grants will position the lobster industry to adapt to climate changes in the Gulf of Maine and preserve and conserve the popular crustacean population.

University of Maine researchers were awarded five of the six grants including two to Yong Chen. The marine science professor will develop scientific models to predict how climate change will impact lobster environments as well as computer simulations to measure the effects of conservation measures.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said research and conservation are among the priorities behind grants that support marine protected areas and sustainable fishing. GrantWatch lists funding opportunities including funds that provide for: grants for environmental concerns, scientific research, policy analysis, management support, and public communication efforts.

Lobstermen in Maine take great pride in the state’s conservation measures, which go beyond outlining which lobsters can and cannot be harvested. Traps are specially designed to catch as few illegal lobsters as possible, and zoning laws, haul limits and other licensing and management regulations help maintain a stable population in Maine’s coastal waters.

Because of those statutes, the Maine lobster industry is experiencing an unprecedented boom. Since 2011, lobstermen have hauled in more than 100 million pounds of American lobster each year. That’s twice as many as the previous decade and five times as much as 30 years ago.

But, some fear the Gulf of Maine is getting warmer, which could be problematic for lobsters. Too much warm water, some researchers say, is to blame for a fall-off in the lobster catch in southern New England. And of concern to Maine lobster interests, catches dropped by 20 million pounds, from 132 million in 2016 to 110 million last year.

Academic entities, researchers, nonprofits and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities in support land, water and wildlife conservation that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch

Small Business Grants Provide Dough To Expand From Booth To ‘The Arepa Place’ Restaurant

From a booth inside Findlay Market in downtown Cincinnati, Isis Arieta-Dennis introduces South American culture to a passersby who bites into her signature arepas. She says Colombians consume arepas, flattened dough made of corn or maize and filled with ingredients, just like Americans eat bread.

The Colombian native is rolling in a little bit more dough after winning a $10,000 small business grant from Samuel Adams. The grants, some $24.5 million presented to food and beverage startups throughout the country in the past decade – are awarded to help small businesses thrive and create jobs in the community.

To win the grant, Arieta-Dennis had to pitch her business plan to a panel of five judges including Samuel Adams founder and brewer Jim Koch, a Cincinnati native. Now that arepas have proven to be their bread and butter, she and her husband, Christopher, have the additional funds to expand their food stand – The Arepa Place — into a more permanent restaurant within Findlay Market.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said corporations are fond of holding contests to gain publicity for their own brands while awarding grants to promote small businesses. Some of these and other annual funding opportunities can be identified on MWBEzone.com, an ancillary service of GrantWatch that lists grants for small businesses, particularly those owned by woman and minorities.

The Arepa Place competed against four other local food-and-beverage entrepreneurs during the Sam Adams “Brewing the American Dream” program’s Cincinnati stop, which featured a Pitch Room Competition and Speed Coaching event.

The Arepa Place came out on top, earning Arieta-Dennis a $10,000 business grant and extended speed coaching from the Sam Adams program, which has coached or mentored more than 8,000 small businesses since its inception in 2008.

With the grant money, Arieta-Dennis said her new restaurant will be able to house a small shop to sell Latino products, many of the items from local small businesses already located within Findlay Market. In the meantime, she will use part of the grant money to purchase a tilt skillet for soaking the oil and corn or maize used for making arepas.

Arieta-Dennis said arepas look like tortillas, but much thicker. After slicing them open like a pita, she fills them with mozzarella cheese, black beans, fried plantains, and shredded beef or chicken. When she mixes mozzarella into the corn dough before grilling the patties, she has created a “Colombian version of a grilled cheese.”

A foundation for The Arepa Place began two years ago at the Butler County Small Business Development Center, which, Arieta-Dennis credits with helping her identify startup tools including how to file for a license.

For-profit entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, particularly minority and women-owned, frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at MWBEzone.com. By registering, subscribers gain access to both MWBEzone.com and GrantWatch.


About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch.com