Have you ever considered going after a grant for your business?

Does that idea sound completely foreign or maybe that you’d need to be a non-profit in order to qualify for funding?

Well good news web designer friend, there are TONS of opportunities for grants both locally, at the state-level and nationally for businesses just starting out your business and those already established.

To get a better idea of how grants work and what it can look like for web designers to effectively secure funding, I’m bringing back onto the podcast Julia Taylor of GeekPack.com who shares how she’s secured over 300k in grant funding for her business over the last year and a half!

We cover:

What grant opportunities are typically available for web designers
How to effectively apply for grants
What to expect when you actually get a grant
Even how your potential clients can get grants for your web design services

And much more!

If you think “there’s no way I’ll qualify for a grant” like I have leading up to this convo. Think again, there’s so much opportunity for you and to make a bigger impact with your business!

I highly recommend not missing this convo.

In this episode:

00:00 – Exploring Grants for Web Design Businesses
04:01 – Exploring Grants for Business Growth
15:30 – Understanding Grants for Small Business Owners
29:36 – Grant Applications and Business Networking
40:09 – Grant Funding Impact on Businesses
52:45 – Imposter Syndrome and the Grant Game
1:02:05 – Exploring Grants for Business Funding

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Connect with Julia:

Featured links mentioned:

Episode #301 Full Transcription

Julia: 

We and I don’t say this lightly, but we change people’s lives and that’s amazing. So we should be highlighting that and letting people know like this is what we’re able. This is what we’ve already done on our own. If you, as a grant provider, support us to do more, just imagine how many more people we can impact and support and, you know, spread that around. So traction whether it’s revenue traction, it’s impact, it’s stories from students, it’s testimonials we have that traction. This is not an idea pie in the sky. We’ve been doing it for years and we have successful students and that’s what they want to support. Welcome to the Web Design Business Podcast, with your host, josh Hall, helping you build a web design business that gives you freedom and a lifestyle you love.

Josh: 

Hello friend, and welcome into the Web Design Business Podcast. Speaking of business, did you know there is a whole new, likely hidden world to you that you may not know about that can help you grow your web design business, and that is through grants. Now, I do not know much until after the conversation I’m about to let you in on. I don’t know virtually anything about grants and about funding and about the different programs out there to help business owners, whether you’re starting a web design business right now, or even if you’re more established and are able to use grant funding to help grow your business and take it to the next level. I didn’t know anything about this until I talked to one of my colleagues, julia Taylor, who is the founder and CEO of Geekpack, and she had mentioned recently about the grant game and that she’s getting further and further into getting grants for her business and in fact, as you’ll find out, she has learned a lot about grants over the past year, year and a half or so, and she’s actually, to this point, received over $325,000 in grant funding for her business over the last year and a half. So, needless to say, I was like you know what? This is, somebody I want to talk to, to learn more about the grant game and to see if it’s an option for you to help grow your business Again, whether you’re just starting out or you’re established and would like to potentially explore grant options if numbers are down this year or if you want to grow wings of your business and have more funds for marketing and for hiring and for growing your business. There are so many options for grants for you as a web designer. And don’t forget, you can also tell your clients, or soon to be clients, that if they feel like they can’t afford a website, they could potentially look into grants themselves to be able to hire you to build their website. So the grant game is fascinating. That’s exactly what we’re going to dive into in this episode with Julia Taylor of Geekpack. You can find out more about her and what she’s up to at geekpackcom and I would joke about this in the interview, but I told her I was like you have got to make a course on grants because she’s just a wealth of knowledge already. So if you also want a course on grants from Julia and geekpack, let her know, connect with her, go to geekpackcom to connect with her and all the social media that she’s active on, but let her know you heard about her on the Web Design Business podcast on the grant episode, and let her know that you might be interested in some more resources, because I sure am too. So I hope you enjoyed this conversation. It was a blast something we don’t talk about at all on the podcast at this point. So I learned a lot. I think you will too. Here’s Julia. Julia, what a pleasure to have you back on again for round two. Thank you so much for taking some time to chat.

Julia: 

Absolutely, I’m so excited to be here, excited to be back and to talk about something very different and new.

Josh: 

Very different and new. We’ve never talked about this on the podcast. To this point, I don’t know anything about this, which is why I wanted to turn to you, because you mentioned just recently that it’s kind of like a new, almost wing of your business or something that you’re really looking into more and more, and that is grants. It’s this thing is fascinating to me because it just never dawned on me Actually, I never even thought about it or knew anyone that did anything with getting a grant until Eric, the CEO of my agency, when he went full time with in transit. He’s like oh yeah, I just got a $5,000 grant, so I’m getting some new gear, and I was like what, what, how did you do that? What, where, who, why, how? Like I didn’t even know this was possible. So there’s, like this whole world that a lot of people don’t know about and, just like you, I serve a lot of people who are at different stages of their journey, but a lot of people getting into web design and building their business and for folks either early on or more established, there’s a lot of opportunities for grants. So I don’t even know where to start, other than to say like is that fair to say Like there’s this hidden world of opportunity for grants.

Julia: 

Absolutely, and I’ve been talking about grants just recently because. So let me start with. One of the questions I get immediately is I’m not a nonprofit, I can’t get a grant, but you absolutely can. There are so many grants out there that exist for for profit businesses, so you’re good. In case you’re wondering, you’re starting out, you’re thinking, oh, this doesn’t apply to me. I’m not a nonprofit, I’m a for profit company and in the last 12 months, we have been awarded $325,000 in grants. And when I say grants, that is free money, it is some things I have to do. I have some extra paperwork to do Some of the grants. They have literally dropped the money right in my bank account and there’s nothing else that needs to be done but state grants, federal grants, things like that. There is a little bit more red tape that goes along with it to get that funding, but we’ve done it and it’s a fantastic thing to consider for your business, particularly if you have a mission that is more than just I want to make money Like, if you have a mission that you believe in, that you support people or initiatives that are bigger than yourself. That’s what grant funders are looking for, because they’re not just going to give you money because you want more money. There needs to be something more to it, so keep that in mind when you consider going for grants.

Josh: 

So, right off the top here, important thing that I just realized is that it’s not just for new business owners, like Eric when he started his stuff and got a 5K grant, but also your business is established and you have a team and it’s not like you just started and are looking for funding to be able to build up systems and team and scale. It’s like you’ve already been in place. I want to dive into grant funders, but I’m curious when did you get into the grant game? I’m going to let my golden retriever out, so please keep talking, julie, I’ll be right back. She’s just crafting to get out, but I want to keep this rolling.

Julia: 

Yeah, sure. So let’s see, when did I get into the grant game? It was a little over a year ago. Well, probably about a year and a half ago I went through a local accelerator program. So this is something that I would highly recommend Anyone check out and see what is local to you, whether it’s in your city, your county, your state. But accelerator programs sometimes they’re referred to as incubators. This is where you get business mentors, that kind of help you in your current stage of business to move on to the next stage that you want to get to. And really so much of the success that we’ve had with grants has been networking and relationship building, which is hard for me because I’m an introvert and I like to be at home. But the success that we’ve had is people saying, oh, do you know about this grant or that grant? And I found out about it and I applied for it. So it all starts with me joining this local accelerator program and going through that and people saying, hey, here’s a grant for women-owned businesses, here is a grant for tech education businesses, and have you tried this? Now we’ve applied for a lot of grants and not won all of them, so it is something. It is kind of a numbers game, but once you get one, get two. We’ve found that people like to then support businesses that have already received funding, which is a cool thing. So once you get that snowball effect, it really starts to work out. So it was about a year, year and a half ago when I started applying for grants.

Josh: 

And was there a need for that? Or was it just like why not apply? Because part of me is like how much time are we talking about here? What is the red tape of the application processes? Am I doing calls? Am I going to have to write up a small book in order to get somebody to look at it? How many denials do I want to get to make this worthwhile? Am I going to spend 100 hours going for a grant and get like $5,000, which does not be worth 100 hours? That’s just the apprehensive side of me. Did those factors come into mind when you got into it?

Julia: 

They didn’t, because I was just so new to it and I wanted to kind of just try and just try everything. And the thing is is let me try and make this make as much sense as possible. So I’ve had my business geek pack since 2018. And we have primarily always done stuff from a B to C angle and we have courses and we teach women how to code, how to build websites, development kind of techy stuff and we’ve been doing that on a one-on-one basis through Facebook ads, through organic marketing. So that’s what we’ve been doing for years. I have a very big vision for my business and it all comes down to reach and impact and we want to get more women into tech. Like at the end of the day, that’s all we’re trying to do. And the realization that I had when going through this accelerator program. This accelerator program was if I can partner with one organization, a company, a nonprofit like, whatever that looks like that has hundreds or thousands of women, then all of a sudden we’ve reached thousands rather than one. Does that make sense? So, in that, we call that our, we call it the kickback partners program, we call it our B2B side of the business and, because I have this big vision and mission for the company and this new angle. I have used that for the grant applications and I would and some of them have taken a long time, very, very long time. Some that have taken a long time have not come to fruition. But one thing that we found that works really well for us is I worked with a. She was a copywriter. She was a contract copywriter for me for a while, but she used to be a grant writer and she wrote one of my grants and it was the biggest grant that we received. It was 250,000 through the state of Colorado. Wow, she helped me write that grant and we have repurposed. I mean, here we are like we know how to repurpose stuff, like this podcast is going to go in a lot of different places. We know how to do that and I took that knowledge of repurposing content and I used that with the grant. So I had a grant writer write this grant application and we have repurposed that language that she has used for all other grant applications that have been successful and that have not, and that has worked really, really well for us. And that’s something I would highly recommend is, if you are going for a big grant. You are going for a big grant. Hire someone to help you with it who knows how to write grants, but then know that you can repurpose that content for a lot of other stuff down the road. So we had a lot of success with that.

Josh: 

I was going to say. I imagine if you do one, even if you didn’t get it, you’re probably getting a lot of the content mission and all that out of the way to where you could repurpose it and double up or duplicate copy and paste stuff, I’d imagine 100 percent For your audience and the folks who will probably be listening to this.

Julia: 

If you don’t have this big mission and vision, like I do, well, you can still have language in the grant that is positively impacting your clients. So think about how you could write a grant. And if you’re a small business owner? I’ll use one of my students as an example. I found out a couple of months ago that she was inspired by us getting grants and she went to her local Chamber of Commerce and she joined the local Chamber of Commerce and found out about a grant that was for women-owned businesses. She dragged her feet because she wanted to apply, but she thought, oh, I’m never going to get it. She applied and she got it. She got like 10 grand as just a local business owner. So you can start small. But what she did in her grant application is, she said, I want to serve local small business owners who were negatively impacted by COVID. So that’s how she presented that grant application.

Josh: 

It’s not about her. It’s not about her necessarily her business, but it’s the results she’s getting for her.

Julia: 

Absolutely so. Think about who you will serve if you were to receive that grant funding. Another thing I probably should have written all this down, because I keep getting ideas and stuff.

Josh: 

This is great.

Julia: 

I love the transcript so one thing to keep in mind, and I would always recommend that people do this when you write a grant application and they’re all different and they all ask varying types of questions they will always ask how are you going to use the funding? And every single successful application that we’ve had, we have said we are going to use the funding to hire someone to do the thing that we’re saying we’re going to do, because that’s job creation. God, every grant organization wants to support job creation. So it could be in the case of one of my students. If she got 10 grand, that could be a. You know, she could get a contractor in whatever that looks like. You don’t have to use it Some of them you do have to use it for what you say but use that language to create more jobs, to achieve the thing that you want to achieve for that end user that you’ve identified that needs what you have.

Josh: 

Gotcha, so you don’t want to tell them we really need a new couch. So can I get this grant Got it? This is wonderful already, Julia. This is awesome. So a couple oh gosh, there’s like so many things I want to dive into here. The local thing is huge because I didn’t really think about grants I mean, it really is such a local or state type of game when we had chatted before this. What prompted this conversation is I just asked you about grants because I had a couple students I was talking to about it and then you sent me this loom video and it made me realize like it’s, this is a hard thing to to share exactly on, because I would imagine it’s so different between states. Right, Like, these programs are going to be largely based locationally, but if somebody is overseas, I don’t know, I’m sure there are like non geographic grants. So I want to get to that, but I do not want to miss something which is really important here, which is the grant funders, and I think you just hit the nail on the head with sharing like well, why are they going to give somebody money to do something in their business? It’s going to be to grow the like, grow the economy, which makes sense if it’s local, because, like they wanted to give 10 grand to this person to help hire somebody or grow their business, which is going to help the economy. What else, I guess? Why else are their grant funders? Why else are people giving money to businesses in the form of grants?

Julia: 

I have found that a lot of the grants that I come across are for the end user, as in well, actually it’s both who’s applying. So, as a as a women owned, female owned business, I there’s a lot of grants out there for for me and my business A lot of grants refer to, they want to support impact entrepreneurs, which I apply for a lot of those grants because I have a very, very big vision which is impacting hundreds of thousands of people, and that’s that’s sort of the language that they use for some of those bigger grants. So they even things like improving the economy, absolutely job creation, big, big issues. So solar, you know, energy, any, any ways to make solar more common, clean water, medical devices, those are even even food. I see retail grants that exist and you might think to yourself, like, if you’re listening, you’re like, well, I don’t do any of that, I build websites, okay, well, what if you say that you’re, that you’re creating this, this new product where you are building websites for small solar businesses in rural Wyoming? That would, that has the potential of being funded just because you’re kind of changing that language. So every grant will will say who it’s for and what they want, what they’re looking for. So you want to. When you see a grant application, you want to read through and make sure you apply, but have a have like a new initiative, and that’s what we did. That worked really well is we call it the Geekpack Partners Program. So if you’re a web designer and you build websites for, for small businesses, think of how could you have a new initiative. That’s a, that’s a arm of your business, and you support these, these business owners, by building them websites that convert, that do all these things in order for them to be able to make the world a better place. So just think creatively about how what you do can help other people that help the wider world.

Josh: 

And I think for somebody like me, that’s key. Like if I’m going to look into a couple of grants I I’m guessing I think you said this in the link. It was like I don’t know how many like white guy grants there are. Like I’m probably not the ideal fit for most grants, but I help a lot of people. I help black owned business owners and women owned business owners. One of my students is a stay at home mom who was able to take her business to six figures this year. Like that’s the kind of story you’re really reminding me that it’s not about me. It’s about who I’m serving and using my business as a tool to serve them better and to spread the reach of what I do. But it’s not at all about me, josh, personally. It’s about my mission and what I’m doing. So I appreciate you just framing that to make sure, like that, because that seems like the most important part for any business, but particularly for somebody in my type situation.

Julia: 

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And it’s that piece. And when I, when I hired the grant writer, she gave me so much good advice and she said, if you’re, if the grant application is is very specific on this, like new thing, the new project, this new initiative, how that is going to have the impact that you want it to just call it something new Because, as she says, grant funders, like the people that read your application, they want to give you money. They genuinely do, they want to give you money to do this thing. So if you can get your application to tell a story but also like do everything that the application says, if you’re a rule follower and you, you, you read the instructions and you’re really, really clear and you’re doing exact like character limits, don’t go over them, because if you do, the grant funders are looking for any excuse to put you in the no pile. So don’t give them any reason to put you in the no pile. Do everything you’re supposed to it says to do, follow the instructions very, very clearly, and then tell a story with your application, which, again, we do this stuff all the time, like we know how to do this. It’s just being a little bit creative with the how we’re telling this story and about who it’s going to serve.

Josh: 

Hmm, that’s wonderful. Well, we’re going to talk about this because, if you haven’t already, I’m going to have to get you to make the GeekPak grant course available here soon, because this has got to be packaged up. The grant funders who are these people? Are they state officials? Are they business owners? Is it a tax write off for them? I guess I know there are amazing people in the world who love to give and are charitable, but I just wonder, like, what is what’s in it for them? In a lot of ways, I guess Weird, naive question, but I just don’t know. I don’t know anything about this.

Julia: 

Yeah, sure, and I’ll. And you know, to be honest, I’m I’m relatively new to this, so I will speak on my my own experience and the grants that we’ve been awarded, um, the. I’ll start with the first one, which is the, the, the big one that we got from the state of Colorado and that was for 250,000. Now there are some parameters that go along with it. I had to, you know, match a certain amount and there’s a lot of red tape and and things. So that’s the biggest, but also the biggest like the hardest one to to to get around Sounds like a big web design project. It’s awesome.

Josh: 

But there’s a lot more red tape and a lot more phone calls and meetings. Yeah.

Julia: 

Oh, yes, yes, absolutely, and that is all funded through, I’m certain, um Colorado tax. So now I’m fortunate to live in Colorado, where they are incredibly supportive of small business owners and there’s a lot of opportunities for grant funding. So a lot will depend on the state that you’re in. So something to to look into and whatever state you’re in, just Google, um, you know, ohio grants for small businesses just to see what what’s out there. So that is, the state of Colorado wants to support small business owners and the grant that I got was called the um advanced industries grant. Now, normally you would think, oh, that’s that’s manufacturing, that’s um, you know, that’s really like advanced industries. I mean, that’s that’s what they refer to it, and I didn’t think that I would apply. But apparently I did it and we were able to kind of change the language and make it, make it fit right with the advanced industries of tech education, like we are innovating the way that tech education is done. That was the how we put that into the application. So I would check out your state and see what opportunities there are for small business owners. Um, I would also recommend looking at your city level, county level, region, because there will be um, there’ll be um grant opportunities there as well. Uh, let’s see. So another um. Two grants that I received were from a organization called hello Alice. So everyone here, I want you to go to hello Alice. I’m not sure if it’scom ororg, but just um hello Alice. It’s completely free to sign up.

Josh: 

Okay, hello Alicecom.

Julia: 

It’s free to sign up for an account and then, um, get their email newsletters, because you’ll get an email that says new grant opportunities. Um, and the really cool thing about hello Alice is, once you apply for one and you then apply for a second, it saves your, your, your, responses.

Josh: 

So uh gotcha.

Julia: 

We’ve probably I want to say we’ve probably applied for eight or 10 grants with hello Alice and we’ve received two totaling together 75 grand.

Josh: 

Wow, that’s amazing.

Julia: 

Our first one took a little bit longer because it was the first one that I did. The second one it didn’t didn’t take as long because we just kind of duplicated the content over. Of course you want to read through it and make sure it applies with what is going for, but those two were funded by um investment companies. So the first is Tiger Global Management. So if you go and Google Tiger Global Management, they’re a huge investment equity company. So they invest in companies all over the world, equity investment, and they have a nonprofit arm. So Tiger Global has a nonprofit arm called Tiger Global Venture something, something, something. But that’s their nonprofit arm. So you’ve got this massive company that makes a lot of money and they put money aside into their nonprofit that then supports small businesses in the hopes that if it takes off they might then invest in it in the long term. So this kind of long term approach with these businesses. That was one of them. And then the other was Antares Capital, ant, ras, maybe Antares Capital, another investment kind of equity capital firm, using all the wrong phrase, fragility, and they have a nonprofit that supports small businesses and that’s where that grant funding came from. So those two I’m pretty certain. The first one was female-owned businesses, the second one was not. So there are opportunities there, absolutely. I believe right now they have a grant that’s funded by Stacey’s Pita Chips We’ve probably all had that before so retail companies could apply for that. So, excuse me, restaurants Interesting yeah.

Josh: 

So there’s nationwide here.

Julia: 

Us funding opportunities, there’s federal funding opportunities, there’s state, there’s local, there’s county. One of the other ones that I received was a competition. It was an accelerator program competition that I went through with the state of Colorado. So really, just start kind of googling what’s available in your state. That’s probably the best place to start. That I would say.

Josh: 

I was just thinking like a practical path to get started. I would imagine, yeah, state grants or funding opportunities, but even, like you mentioned, your student who did the 10,000, that was there through a Chamber of Commerce, right, yep, so even that, like what locally could? I don’t know how many local searches for grants are happening, like that’s probably. I imagine one of those might be lower, but probably one of the quickest wins would be something through a Chamber of Commerce or a networking type of situation, a business growth, startup company or something like that. There’s a tons of those in Columbus, for example. So that makes a lot of sense to start local, citywide, statewide, and then from there. I’m kind of curious do you know, like globally, what’s the grant? I don’t want to call it like the grant market, but do you know what that looks like for like Canada or even just other countries in general that are outside of North America, uk, australia, europe, whatever? Do you know what it looks like there?

Julia: 

I’m certain they exist. I’m mostly familiar with US grant funding, however, I would imagine it would be very similar. So Canada, for example, or the UK put in your county or province and at the end of the day, it’s just Google searching. There are international opportunities. I have found the big international grants are through big companies. Think of Coca-Cola, for example, or any massive corporation that exists all around the world. They will have grant opportunities that are open to anyone all around the world. Those are going to be the hardest to get because there’s so much more competition, but that’s still an option, absolutely.

Josh: 

What’s been your experience with the process for some of these? I’m sure it varies depending on the like. You mentioned the big one, but it was also a lot of red tape. Are we talking? I mean, I imagine you’re not just going to submit a form and then bam, $200,000 grant awarded. I imagine for bigger ones especially, I’m sure there’s are there like phone calls? Are there like levels? I almost think of this like an RFP, like a request for a proposal. It’s like a request for a grant. I imagine there’s like different levels. You got a pass to get to the next level. You talk to this person. Is that, is that? Am I guessing that’s kind of how it works for? at least some of the bigger ones.

Julia: 

Yeah, absolutely, and you know they’re all, they’re all different. And the two with Hello Alice was an application and then, boom, money dropped into my account.

Josh: 

Okay.

Julia: 

So those were the. I mean, that was the easiest 75 grant I have made but but you know, to be fair, it’s, it’s a lot of work to get to the point to where you can, you know, apply and and and.

Josh: 

I was going to say you had already got help at that point right. Like your grant writer and everything.

Julia: 

Exactly, yeah, I did. I did have that and I knew the language to use and and things like that. So those, the ones with Hello Alice are the easiest. The state one, the 251, that was a very in depth application, but after that it was a you’ve been awarded. Now there’s all this red tape. That’s how that one went. I I’m currently going through a application process for another one that I can’t talk about because it’s not publicly known yet, but that application process took about seven months. I was interviewed three times. My every team member was interviewed. Wow, advisors were interviewed, clients were interviewed and I had to, I had to pitch. So I have been doing presentations, so I share my slides and I kind of go through. You know who we are and what we do and what problem we’re solving and our previous traction and what our future is going to look like. So I have, I have pitch, I have, I have pitch decks for grants, for all kinds of different, different things, and the, the, the culmination of this, this one that I’m referring to, that I don’t mean to be so kind of secretive about it, but I can’t, I can’t talk about it. That one has easily been the, the hardest and the most time consuming and the the due diligence that they have required. The interviews I would say that’s not super common, but the the breadth of of what is asked for. I we were recently awarded 5000. And I did a lot of work for that, that 5000. However, in addition to the 5000, I also got a 90 minute session with seven of these like very, very successful entrepreneur professionals who’ve been acquired or sold and done all this big stuff. I got 90 minutes with them, which is way, way more than the the five grand. I mean five grand is great. That’s what I really wanted and that and that’s what I got. So what you, what you get from it, it can vary across the board, yeah.

Josh: 

Seven months. I mean, julia, this is like a part of your business. I mean it really sounds like you’re taking this seriously and doing a lot. I mean, obviously, for the big grants I imagine you have to in order to to to secure one. But I mean, one question I have is like is this worth? Is it worth it? I mean, I guess it must be worth it, rather, because part of me feels like it’s got to pull you away from your business If you’re particularly for these big ones. I mean, if it’s a seven month thing, you probably could have created a few courses in that time or built you know, built the membership. So I just wonder, like, where’s the line that is worth it? You know doing it like doing the grant game, or should I actually just focus and grow my business and just get grants that I can, kind of thing? I guess, where do you draw that line? Or is this worth it as a part of your business?

Julia: 

Yeah, it’s such a good question and during that 90 minute session that I had with those advisors, they asked that exact same thing and they said okay, you know great that you’ve got all this momentum and you, you know it’s worked so well. But you know, at some point, like if we were to start going for you know, 500 grand million plus grants, we need full time people just applying for them and then going through all the all the red tape, and it hadn’t really occurred to me until they brought it up. And you know, just as you have, that the, I would say our primary goal with applying for these grants and being awarded them is not the cash. Yes, the money helps, but it’s actually the networking, the relationship building and the introductions. That is really what we’re going for. So for us, we have decided that for the foreseeable future, we will continue to apply for grants at the level that we’re at and what we can do within our current capacity, but not million plus grants, because that’s a whole another level that you need partners and it’s it’s a full time job.

Josh: 

What I was thinking too. I imagine this is strategic for you because your your business, GeekPak, I mean you guys are helping primarily women get into tech, like you mentioned, so that that mission probably brings you into a different world than, say, mine is where, yeah, like, I’m specifically helping web designers build web design businesses, but that’s a little bit different than yours. That has probably a broader reach towards like the entire world. I mean, don’t you have a goal like 100,000?

Julia: 

We did. We’ve actually just recently increased it to a million by 2030.

Josh: 

Okay. So a million women brought into tech by 20. So that okay. So that makes sense as to why, like the partner thing, like that would be really hard to do with Facebook ads and measly podcast interviews with people like myself, but if you’re networking and shaking hands and rubbing shoulders with people who are like legit business owners, who have done have massive, you know, network and partners and stuff like that, that makes sense as to why this. Shed some lights. Let some light for me as like, why, why are you spending so much time going for these big grants? That makes sense to me, if I’m kind of reading that right, that there’s not a hidden motive but there’s a strategic. There’s a strategy behind this that isn’t just on the outside of just getting quick cash.

Julia: 

Absolutely, and I’ve also found that kind of really exploring that you know real business, that you know brick and mortar, like big, big companies, big corporations, as I’m kind of figuring out that world because it’s very different than what I know. People like to be surrounded by people who are winning and moving forward and growing and scaling, and other people are saying we like what you’re doing. So every time we are awarded a new grant, I want to tell those advisors and the people that are introducing me to other companies because it’s that extra validation for them and for me. And we’re finding that the momentum is just kind of stacking on itself and I’m, you know, I want to be introduced to the, you know, to the C-suite at Walmart or the. You know I, that’s what I, because if I can get an in at a big company and we can train thousands and thousands of their employees, you know, upskill them in some tech skills. That is helping me reach that vision of a million by 2030.

Josh: 

Is the corporate world behind the movement towards tech and online business? Part of me wonders like, with labor shortage the way it is, I feel like corporate folks would probably want to get people like actually working in restaurants, at Walmart, doing things where people are actually like going to work rather than working from home remotely. Is that the case? Or is it actually the opposite, that that’s actually really pushed? Like you know, online business, tech kind of stuff is pushed now.

Julia: 

Yeah, and you know it’s interesting because we’ve for so long we’ve focused on, you know, teaching people how to start their own business and and and work from home and work remotely and all that. You know, that’s what we’ve done for so long. And as we speak with companies and as we start to figure out this other world, the, the direction that we’re kind of navigating and going in, is upskilling current employees of these big companies, because these big companies are worried about retention.

Josh: 

I see interesting.

Julia: 

So we provide the virtual community for women or any other you know to help that company support their DEI goals that diversity, inclusion and we provide short cohort based learning on a certain topic. That upskills the employee. But also the company is investing in their employee because they want them to kind of move up in the business. So that’s the angle that we’re kind of toying with now and we’re really excited with where that’ll go. But it’s taken us like a year to figure all this out. So none of this was you know overnight. Oh, we’re going to work with companies and do X, y and Z. It’s taken a long time and a lot of work to figure it out.

Josh: 

I was going to say. I mean, we chatted earlier this year for the first time. You were on the podcast in 249. And yeah, I don’t even remember you mentioning this at all and maybe some of it was, yeah, just wasn’t quite. You weren’t quite in the game like you were now, but but it makes a lot of sense. I mean it sounds like the grant game, if we call it. That has kind of helped you see a new like vision for your business, right, I mean it really like it brought you into a whole new world.

Julia: 

And it’s so much of it and I’ve said this a number of times on grant interviews or things like that is a lot of it is validation, because I probably talked about this on the last podcast, but I really struggle with imposter syndrome and doing doing these and people who have, you know, been entrepreneurs for decades and they’ve sold businesses and like, done all this really big stuff, and they look at what we’ve done at Geekpack and they’re like, wow, you’ve, you are profitable from day one and you’re actually making money and you know how to build a team and all this. And I’m like, yeah, I mean, I figured it out along the way, but what we do in the online business world is is really, really impressive to the outside world because we are making. We are making real money immediately and apparently that’s not the norm. So it’s a lot of it is is validation. And am I the right person to lead my team with this massive vision? Because I question myself all the time and they say, no, you are the right leader. You, you are the right entrepreneur to do this. And it’s like, okay, cool, so I’m going to continue to believe in myself and keep going. So there’s, there are some ulterior motives to do these things, other than just the cash, that validation, but also the introductions, the networking and relationships that come along with it.

Josh: 

How are you guys using the funding for your business? I know some of the ones that you’ve you’ve got. You said you’re able to just use it. However, some of it is a little more red tape. Is it? Is it marketing? Is it hiring? Is it? Yeah, what’s what’s, I guess? How have you used primarily the grant money?

Julia: 

Primarily for hiring. We grew.

Josh: 

By the way, everyone who’s not watching this. Julia is on a yacht in the ocean, so please come on, oh yeah, no, I wish Primarily for staff. That’ll be next year when you get the big grant. Okay, good, yes.

Julia: 

Primarily for staffing, for hiring, and that’s all the, that’s what we say, we use it all for. And now, since May I want to say since May I’ve had a full time employee whose primary focus is only the GeekPak Partners program.

Josh: 

Oh, wow.

Julia: 

And she does a lot of the, the initial grant applications. I’m the the one that does the interviews and the pitching, but but she does, you know, 90% of the stuff that needs to be done because it is time consuming. So I do have a full time employee that focuses on on the Partners program and that has enabled us to to do all all these things, but I fund her role with grant money.

Josh: 

With grant gosh. Yeah, grant proceeds or yeah. So I got lost here there, I think that was my internet, but you mentioned having basically a full time person to to manage this. But are you do? Is this kind of like a part of your workflow now, week to week, month to month, or is this something you do seasonally? Do you go, you know, do you go ham on grants for a month or two and then back off it for the next while? Or is this kind of like, again, kind of a part of your, your business and your routine now?

Julia: 

A lot of it is as and when they come up. And now we are, we’re a little bit more particular about what we’re going for and making sure that we’re we’re really good fit and we know now what, what, what works and what doesn’t. So we we look at every grant opportunity and kind of say, okay, do we have a good chance of getting this? And if we do, then what would that? You know what would that look like and how much time does it take and all the stuff that goes along with it. So we’re, we’re a lot more knowledgeable with them. So I I meet with my partner’s program manager weekly and we discuss, you know, discovery goals but also grant opportunities and how things are moving forward. And, like right now, things are really slow. I doubt there’s going to be many grant opportunities until, you know, january, february, just because that’s that’s. You know, everyone, everyone kind of slows down around this time. So it’s a as and when. Things come up that we are a good fit for we’ll go for. But we’ve also recognized our limitation and how we don’t want to. We don’t want grants to be the only thing that we’re doing longterm, because the big ones are just a real, real hassle.

Josh: 

Got you all totally. I could see that for sure. So I imagine somebody interested in looking into the grant stuff. We covered some good strategies so far with getting started locally, city-wide, statewide. You mentioned again for anyone who was like what the heck was that website HelloAlicecom. There’s kind of the two pronged mission with receiving a grant from from my perspective, which is like people who are a woman owned business, black owned business. I mentioned before we went live. I have a student in WebZenner Pro who is deaf, and I told him I was like there’s got to be some grant options for deaf business owners Like there. I’m sure there are some out there, and he would probably be a a shoe in for a lot of those Like somebody who is marginalized in some way. In my situation, it’s about who I serve and helping people all people, but a lot of like moms and who else who are growing their own businesses. So there’s kind of those two ends of like the as far as like a why of grants, I imagine. So this is really kind of help shed some light on that for me. The other thing you mentioned there too, though, is like how to use the money in this case, and I imagine this comes into play when they ask you, inevitably okay, how are you going to use this 10 grand that we give you, for example? One thing I’m thinking about is, like because this year has been a down year for me and I’ve talked about that publicly. We’re on the upswing now, which is great, but I did have to cut my team’s hours down a little bit and I would love to hire more right now. Like I’m kind of delaying on some things just because I don’t have the funds to be able to hire some people, but with a grant I totally could. So that’s kind of one thing I’m thinking about with this is it’s not immediate cash, it’s like almost an investment investment for something in your business that’s going to produce more fruit moving forward. Like it’s almost like a loan that you use now that you’re able to do a lot more over the next three, six months to a year. Is that you’re shaking your head? Is that kind of like in a good way? Is that kind of the mindset, too, with some of this funding?

Julia: 

Yeah, absolutely. And as you’re talking, I’m immediately kind of thinking oh, what could an angle that Josh could use in a grant application and this is just an idea that just kind of came up and this is something that anyone could use as an idea is you could create a new initiative, a new kind of program that is a scholarship, a new thing that is specific for marginalized communities and you just want to get moms, small business owners, rural veterans I mean that’s absolutely a marginalized community when BIPOC any marginalized community. You could say I’m going to create this thing and we are going to have a scholarship program where they are able to come into my community, my membership and get this training to start their own business, to improve their local economy. That is an idea of a way that you could reach the people that you want to reach, have the impact that you want to have within this project concept of who you’re going to serve and why and how they are going to impact their local community. You could say I’m going to use the 10 grand to hire someone to run that program. That’s one way to think outside the box when it comes to getting grant funding For me.

Josh: 

if I were to do something like that, I’d say I could probably use that to have somebody in my community who was going to help coach them along with myself be able to coach them through getting started paying for the resources, everything else.

Julia: 

Absolutely, yeah, exactly. So you’re already thinking along those lines. That’s what? Telling a story with a grant application so that the person who’s reading it can picture and go okay, I can see whether it’s thousands of people being impacted or one, it doesn’t matter. They just want their funding to go to something meaningful and worthwhile.

Josh: 

Gotcha so interesting. This has been great. Julie, again, you sent me a little 10-minute loom video that really shed some light on this. But once I saw it I was like I want to go deeper into this, because there’s so much of this that is multi-layered and multi-leveled. Like you said, there’s done only the mission of what this grant money could go towards for you and your business, but the mission of who you serve, how you help, and then also a new world, bringing people into a different world that you didn’t have experience with. But it’s interesting seeing you see the opportunity now and have that change your vision of GeekPak, because now, suddenly, again, like you said, that one grant got you, most importantly, that 90-minute presentation with a bunch of I guess, quote-unquote big wigs who probably are open to a larger world that may not know about you at all right now.

Julia: 

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So it’s a really cool kind of world to get into. And I’d say, as we talked about, start local, whether it’s local within your community Chamber of Commerce or at the state level. That I mean, hello Alice, that can’t hurt, it’s free, just sign up for their newsletter and see what comes through. But starting local and my end was really with this accelerator program. I was the anomaly when I went through that accelerator program because I didn’t have a traditional brick and mortar, because I wasn’t creating hiking backpacks or trailers or food to go up into the mountains. I mean, everything around where I live is all about the outdoor industry. But just because the way we do business is a little bit different than kind of traditional, that doesn’t mean that we’re not very successful business owners in our own right, in any right. And that’s something I’ve learned on this journey, because I used to think, oh, I’m an online business owner. This is not real business, how and why. I was saying that to myself and we know a lot more than we give ourselves credit for how to run a business, how to make money, how to keep money, how to be profitable, how to generate revenue, fresh ideas, how to market online. I mean, we are ahead of the curve versus traditional business and I think just know that Talking to you or anyone in your audience. We are doing really awesome things in the online business space and we deserve a seat at the table.

Josh: 

That is so well said. What a way to put a cap on this conversation. That was beautiful and it really is important too, because that was kind of one of my thoughts too is like who’s going to give a web designer money so they can buy a new computer and sit on the couch with PJs and Cheetos, build a website? But that’s obviously not what’s going on, and I’m just saying that’s kind of wondering. Is that the view that a lot of the corporate world has about anyone with an online business? But I think you just said it is so much more than that. We are business owners. If anything, we have a lot of barriers that a lot of the brick and mortar world doesn’t have in the way of just the nature of online business in general.

Julia: 

So yeah, that’s fascinating, that’s great, and what I found is that that’s something that I was telling myself, but no one has ever said that to me. No one in traditional business in brick and mortar, has ever said to me oh, you’re just an online business and you sit at home and you’re PJs with Cheetos Literally no one has ever said that, and all the past 18 months of doing what I’ve been doing but I said it to myself and I don’t really know why.

Josh: 

I did too. That was my thought. Why do we do this to ourselves? Where does this come from? Because you’re right. Whenever I talk with corporate people, they’re like, so what do you do? And I’m like I’m an online educator, course grader. And they’re like so you make a living just with your website? I’m like, yeah, so you just sell courses. You have a community. How do you build a community online? That is like we take it for granted what we do and web designers in general. It’s amazing what we can do and for us, we don’t think anything about it and we may have this view that the world is looking at us in some way, but nine times, 9.999 times out of 10, that’s not the case. Not the case at all.

Julia: 

Yeah, so it is. It’s fascinating because I tell myself stories in my head all the time and I think we all do and that’s normal and it’s only been. It’s taken me 18 months to go. Oh, wow, Like I deserve a seat at the table and people have given us 320, I say 325 grand and they believe in what we’re doing and they know the traction that we’ve had and the revenue we’ve had in the past and it’s been a hard year and the team that I have, they believe in what we’re doing. So why am I not so sure? I don’t know. It’s just imposter syndrome at the end of the day.

Josh: 

Did that help you at all? Did you mention that at all, because I know you had publicly stated that you guys have had a downturn this year with Geekpack. Did you mention that it’s been a trying year in some ways in any of those?

Julia: 

I have and a number of a big interview I had just recently. I mentioned that and you know I don’t really know another way other than transparency and honesty. I’m a terrible liar. I’ll never forget a little off topic. I used to work for the government and I went through a polygraph test as part of my security clearance and I’ll never forget the guy saying because you do all these like, he’ll ask you know what day of the week is it? And you lie to kind of see what’s the, what’s your threshold. And I remember him saying you’re a terrible liar. I know my face goes red. Yeah, so I don’t. I don’t really know another way to be, not only with my audience, but just in general, when you know in interviews and I’ve found I have said very clearly you know here’s our traction over the last few years, but this year’s tough and it’s a number of factors. You know it’s growing the team, because you know employees are expensive, they’re awesome but it’s pricey and that kind of growth profitability. So you know for profitable for years and all of a sudden this year is hard because we’re trying to do a lot of things. We’ve got the team, the economy is not great and I’ve said all this in interviews and in applications and I genuinely think that they appreciate that on it, because it’s not all rainbows and unicorns and they will see all the numbers eventually. So I might as well just tell them and be open and honest about it. And a number of them have come back and said yeah, it’s a tough time for small business, it’s a tough time for founders, it’s a tough year for everyone, and I have.

Josh: 

Yeah, I was just wondering, if you know that is I hate to say it like an angle, but that is some, especially if you are an established business that has had a down year or a down amount of time for however much time, If that’s something to put in there. But also, I imagine there’s probably a thin line between like sounding desperate, just like you’re wanting free money since sales are down, but but in full transparency, that kind of thing I would imagine is received well, where it’s like yeah, we, you know, we have a mission, but we are in a down time, or we are, you know, or numbers have dropped in these areas and we want to be able to boost these up, that kind of thing with like yes, here’s where it is, here’s what the plan is, here’s what we want to use this for.

Julia: 

Yeah, absolutely, and any, any you know. Just something I thought of with them with any application or interview or anything like that is examples of impact that you’ve already had with like real people. You know this, this story, this person. They were able to do X with what I provided and now they’re able to do Y and they’re able to serve all these other people or like those, those real and I know we have them, I have them, you have them. We have some of the most amazing like genuine testimonials. We and I don’t say this lightly, but we change people’s lives and that’s amazing. So we should be highlighting that and letting people know like this is what we’re able to. This is what we’ve already done on our own. If you, as a grant provider, support us to do more, just imagine how many more people we can impact and support and, you know, spread that around. So, traction, whether it’s revenue traction, it’s, it’s impact, it’s stories from, from students, it’s testimonials we have that traction. This is not an idea pie in the sky. We’ve been doing it for years and we have successful students and that’s what they want to support.

Josh: 

Woo. That is a great way to end off this one, Julia. Thank you so much for sharing this. When is the Geekpack grant game course coming out?

Julia: 

Oh well, that’s, that’s a whole. Nother, I’d have to hire someone to put that together.

Josh: 

Yeah, I mean how nice would it be to have a road map to follow on this one with templates. I’m just saying I’m just gonna plant the seed. Let me go buy the domain name, so you have to pay me for it first.

Julia: 

Geek pack grant game.

Josh: 

Yeah, I’m just saying, you know, think about it, because I I don’t know of a resource like that, especially in like the online world with what we do. I’m sure there are grant resources for like brick and mortar stores and stuff, but yeah, and I’ve Spoken to a handful of people.

Julia: 

I presented a couple weeks ago to my mastermind on this exact topic and, yeah, I think is. I just love talking about it because it’s also validating for me that if, like, if I’ve done something Right and well, I want to tell other people about it. So I think I’ll probably just do more presentations and podcasts and things and just tell people about it. Maybe someday we might do something with it, but for now I just the fact that I get to share and Potentially help other people do something similar is is awesome.

Josh: 

Speaking of I just did a quick Google search grants for web designers. I even think about this, but before we close off, we can tell clients that they could potentially apply for grants for their marketing and their websites. I just looked and I’m like, oh my gosh, when I search grants for web designers, it’s mostly about that get a grant for your website. Yep absolutely like. That’s something we could be telling potential clients all the time. Like you know, if you’re like, if you want that 10,000 other website that we can do for you but you feel like you can’t afford it, apply for a grant. This is a way that’s a business growth strategy for us to, as web designers.

Julia: 

Yep, absolutely yeah. There’s so many opportunities out there, gosh, we know how to use Google to search for stuff, so just yeah to go for it so many, the Google grant game, that’s.

Josh: 

That’ll be the master class that leads into Geekpack grant, what I call it grant game trademark. All right, julia, before we bring off on a tangent, we each start a new business. Let’s go ahead and chop it off here. So thank you so much for your time and for sharing this. It’s been really, really cool, something that I really haven’t. You know, I don’t know much about it all, but I feel inspired and intrigued and Definitely more like a new, a new mindset on on grants in general. So thank you so much for sharing that with me, and I’m sure a lot others feel the same way. So thank you.

Julia: 

Absolutely more than happy to. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this and I get I get very animated and excited when I get to talk about, you know, what we’ve done and how other people can do it too. There’s, there’s a lot of opportunities out there. So, yeah, go for it.

Josh: 

Well, maybe round three will be once that big grant comes through and you’re on your yacht, and that’s when we can do round three.

Julia: 

I’ll invite you and we can. We could do it, yes.

Josh: 

Fascinating, isn’t it? The grant game, the grant funding world oh, it is wild. I really learned so much from Julia from this conversation, so I hope you did too. I hope you enjoyed this. You can get these show notes and the links in the transcription For this episode at joshallco 301. For this episode we mentioned a couple of websites and things that will be linked over there and again for Julia to connect with her. Go to geek pack dot-com, where she has a membership community and also a course called WP Rockstar Head over there. And again, if you’re interested in the course that I tried to plant some seeds on for her, because I feel like she Definitely should consider making this course one day make sure to let her know, tell her you heard about Julia on the web design business Podcasts and that you might be interested in exploring more resources for grants, and again, I hope for you that this helped shed some light on this world of grant funding for you and your business, because there are so many opportunities for this. I’m actually going to start exploring it myself, so whatever I learn I will certainly pass on to you, but for now, I hope this conversation shows you what’s possible in the world of grants and gives you some good ideas to get going with it, and they get some funding for your business to help build your business. So let’s go, friends, and if you have any grant success stories after this, let me know. Leave a comment at joshallco slash 301. I would love to hear how you took Some action from this episode and what takeaways that you were able to apply to to potentially get some funding. So I would love to know any success stories you have in the way of grants. Our friends, thanks for joining and I’ll catch you on the next episode.

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