So if you are a small business owner like myself, you have no doubt, seen all the ads while surfing the net for contests and grants to help grow your business, but you're either too busy working, too afraid to bug your fans to vote for you, or too cynical that something like this could never happen to you, but I'm here to tell you there are 3 Million Reasons to Believe.
Last September, I sat down at my computer around midnight to watch a local news story that I had missed on the 10 'o clock news that was featuring a story about our business. I rolled my eyes as I realized I was going to be forced to watch this :30 second commercial before I could see the piece. My eyes and ears started popping as the seconds ticked by, and I started to comprehend what the ad was telling me. "Chase Bank is giving away $250,000 to 12 small businesses." I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I didn't even stay to watch the news story. I clicked on the link, filled out the simple five question form, and was done. I asked my friends for 250 votes the next day on Facebook, and the rest is history. Just before Christmas I received a call from a women in New York named Ivy. We must've played phone tag over three times before we finally hooked up, and then she said, "Hi Angelle! I'm calling from Chase Bank in New York to tell you that Chemo Beanies has won the grant." It was downright surreal. I was speechless, simply because I just wanted to scream. But it was all true, and it was a secret I had to keep until late January when the announcements were made. Shortly after I caught my breath, Ivy also informed us that our whole team would also be making a trip out to Google Headquarters in Silicone Valley for a two day business workshop to teach us ways to use the internet to grow our business, with detailed instructions in making the most of Google Ads, SEO, Youtube, Google Plus, Google Analytics, Google Glass, etc. The trip was an added bonus that brought all of the recipients together to network and build relationships that we still foster today.
There is nothing easy about being an entrepreneur, and nothing easy about owning your own business, but this one qualified for the EASY button! This year Chase decided to include even more people by selecting 20 businesses to split the pie, each receiving $150,000. The best part about the Mission Main Street Grants is that it will be coming back year after year. You are too late to enter for 2014, but it's not too late to vote for your favorite small business who entered in the Chase Mission Main Street Grant this year. Today is the final day of voting, and it was the heart of some of the new entrants that inspired me to write this blog. I have been touched by so many small business owners who have reached out to me through email and social media asking for my help this year. "How did you answer your questions?" "How did you get votes?" "Will you help me get votes?" So I did help! I posted some of them on my social media pages asking my friends to help them, because I know it is all too real, and the grant completely transformed our business. I filled out a form, and 4 months later, we were presented with a big and a "depositable" check. The best part was not just the money, but the personal relationships we have built, and having the peace knowing that if a big purchase order came in, we have the financial backing and an institution who believes in what we are trying to accomplish.
Voting closes at midnight tonight at www.missionmainstreetgrants.com Be on the lookout in January for the big announcement for twenty very lucky companies, but most importantly, put aside the doubt that something like this could happen to you, and consider becoming an applicant yourself in 2015.