small business grant bc

Small business grant BC: the CDAP grant

There’s a great small business grant available in BC: the CDAP (Canadian Digital Adaptation Plan) Grant.

The Canadian government made funds available (1.4 billion to be specific) for small businesses to improve their online presence. And each province has a couple of providers through whom you can apply.

This means that you can receive funds for several services related to your website and digital marketing. If you don’t have a website yet, you can even use these funds for a new e-commerce site!

While there are also other digital grants available for large businesses (over $500K revenue), this post focuses on the CDAP grant for small businesses in BC.

How much is this grant?

The grant is $2400, which you can split over different services. For example, you could spend a portion on web design and allocate a portion to social media and ads, but more about that below. While it’s referred to as a “micro grant”, $2400 can go a long way to improve your online presence!

Is my business eligible for this grant?

YES, IF

  • You generate over $30,000 in annual revenue OR you employ at least one person (aside from yourself, the owner).
  • It is a legally registered for-profit business (including social enterprises and cooperatives) within the province of British Columbia.
  • Your business is consumer-facing
  • You want to improve your e-commerce website OR you currently don’t sell online (and want to) – note that digital business meetings and scheduling are also considered e-commerce.

NO, BECAUSE

  • Your business is a registered charity or non-profit organization
  • You are (part of) an MLM (multi-level marketing company).
  • Your business is a franchise or part of a larger corporate organization
  • You operate in online reselling or drop-shipping (with products from external suppliers)
  • You’re a mortgage broker, real estate agent, investment agent, insurance agent etc. Aka no brokerage firms
  • Your business only offers wholesale products or is a manufacturing distributor

What’s the catch?

In my opinion there is no catch! Don’t listen to people that tell you that “there’s no free money from the government”. This grant exists to help small businesses and thus to improve the economy. Your business’ success helps everyone! The funds are available and they will be used for businesses applying. So why miss out?

The only things to keep in mind are that:

  • You have to be ok with filling out potential follow-up surveys and the fact that your business name will be published as a receiver of the grant.
  • You are expected to commit to the digital strategy for six months after the program.

What can I use the money for?

While there’s a long list of options, keep in mind that the expenses have to be directly associated with the online sale of goods and services.

Approved expenses

  • Build a new e-commerce website
  • Installation of an e-commerce platform (and subscription fees)
  • Add functionality to your existing website (f.e. online ordering systems, booking tools, online reservation system etc.)
  • SEO related expenses (not the entire grant)
  • Social media ads (not the entire grant)
  • Expenses associated with the establishment of a customer database.
  • Hiring a consultant for your digital marketing strategy (example: a business coach)
  • E-commerce software for product databases, product tracking and inventory, product shipping, for cyber security, for tracking sales, for offering discounts or coupons, for creating a loyalty program, to track sales etc.
  • Hardware (f.e. physical point of sales system) that is related to the e-commerce strategy and accompanying software. (This expense can’t be more than 20% of the $2400)
  • If you think your expense fits within the goal of creating/improving your e-commerce website, other expenses might be approved (not if they’re explicitly non approved of course)

Non approved expenses

  • Redesign of an existing website (unless it’s part of your additional e-commerce/functionality implementations of course)
  • If you already paid for expenses before approval for the grant, you can’t submit these expenses
  • Rebranding and logo design if you already have a logo
  • Salary for executing the project (you can only hire vendors outside of your company)
  • Mortgages, loans, rent payments
  • Office software such as Google Workspace, Microsoft Office 365 etc.
  • A number of other items that clearly don’t have anything to do with your online presence, such as legal fees and entertainment. (You’ll get that info when submitting)

A couple of examples how businesses in BC used their small business grant

Business S used the entire grant to build a brand new website with integrated Woo-Commerce (WordPress based) e-store and SEO optimization. They didn’t have a website and want to use the power of SEO to attract new customers. They also received a lot of phone calls with questions and hope to reduce those with sharing information online instead.

Business B used the grant to add an online consultation booking system to their existing website. They also allocated a large portion to social media advertisement with a second vendor to grow their mailing list.

Business N used the grant for SEO services to reach more potential customers. They also used a portion of the grant for photography to improve their professionalism in their digital appearance. A third portion went to copywriting.

I merely share these examples to show you what is possible! When you apply for the grant, someone advises you about your submission and about adjusting it when needed.

Can you help me submit my application?

Yes, if we’re one of your service providers (for SEO or anything website related) I’m more than happy to help you fill out your project expenses and your spending plan. We can hop on a call and talk about what works best for your business.

So how does it work?

After gathering the necessary information for your submission, you can apply. Usually your approval shouldn’t take too long and you’ll get to start on your plan. Here’s how to go about it!

What information do I need to have handy for my application?

  • Your business name
  • Your business address
  • Your email address
  • Your BC business registration number (to verify you’re in BC). You can find this here. (when in BC it starts with “BC1234567”, “A1234567” or “FM1234567”.
  • Project expenses (list of items/services, a cost estimate and a description)
  • And finally an explanation how these expenses will contribute to your digital e-commerce plan. (This sounds more intimidating than it is: “how will these funds improve your business, tied to your e-commerce ideas in 50-200 words”.
SBCC’s CDAP spending plan for small businesses in BC

Step one: apply for the grant

There are 3 services providers where you can submit your small business grant application in BC. Before submitting, make sure to have your business info handy (see more info below) and your spending plan.

Small Business BC (our favourite), you can submit here.

Alacrity Canada, you can submit here.

Indigenous businesses an submit with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

Step two: get approved

To get approval, you’ll need an official quote from your services providers as well as their business info. Of course you can already gather that information when creating the spending plan. Note that they have to be a BC based business.

Information to ask from the businesses you’re working with: their business registration number and their GST number.

Step three: get reimbursed

Before receiving the money from the grant program, you have to pay your invoices yourself. After you submit proof of payment you can get reimbursed. Of course you want to make sure that your expenses are approved beforehand!

What are you waiting for? Apply for your small business grant in BC now!

Wasn’t that easy? Get in touch with us any time if you’d like help with the grant to use it for your website or SEO services.

If this grant isn’t what you were looking for, here are some other initiatives and small business grants to peruse.

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