Fueling Business Growth: The Ultimate Guide to Hiring Grants

Starting a business can often feel like an uphill battle, especially when it comes to securing the funds needed to fuel growth and innovation. At Pocketed, we’ve faced these challenges head-on, and that’s why we created a platform to simplify the grant application process for businesses across Canada. With at least 1,600 funding programs available at any given time and staying on top of the shifting requirements can be overwhelming. In this blog, we’ll share our journey, insights, and tips to help you successfully navigate the complex world of hiring grants. Whether you’re a startup or an established enterprise, understanding and leveraging these grants can be a game-changer for your business.

Table of Contents

The Grant Landscape: A World of Opportunities

In Canada, a staggering $5.9 billion is distributed annually to businesses across various sectors such as Brick & Mortar, Consumer Goods, Software & Biotech, Agriculture, and Professional Services. To put that into perspective, that’s like giving every person in a small country a dollar! But hold your horses before you start celebrating—this isn’t exactly free money. Picture it like borrowing a friend’s car; sure, you can use it, but they expect it back in good condition, maybe with a full tank. The same goes for any capital you receive, be it debt or equity.

Unpacking Capital Costs: What to Expect

Imagine you’re on a treasure hunt. You find a chest, but there’s a note: “To claim this treasure, bring back double the amount in gold.” That’s how equity investments work. Investors are looking for a significant return, often expecting you to scale your business to the point of a big, profitable exit.

When it comes to grants, the expectations shift slightly. Think of grants as a community garden. You’re given seeds (funds), but the expectation is that you’ll grow something that benefits everyone, like fresh produce for the neighborhood. In Canada, this often means creating jobs or generating economic benefits through specific projects.

Grants Are for Projects, Not Businesses: A Paradigm Shift

Let’s clear up a common misconception: many business owners view grants as a golden ticket for their entire company. In reality, grants are more like funding for a specific project at a school science fair. The judges (grant providers) are focused on the potential impact of the project, not the overall performance of the student.

When you’re considering applying for a grant, the key question to ask is, “What am I trying to accomplish?” It’s not just about the grand vision for your company; it’s about strategically deploying capital to achieve tangible results.

Here are some areas where grants can make a difference:

  • Capital Expenditure: Investing in major assets like equipment or property.
  • Hiring: Bringing new talent on board.
  • Sustainability: Implementing eco-friendly practices.
  • Training: Enhancing your team’s skills and knowledge.
  • Market Expansion: Entering new markets or scaling operations.
  • Research & Development (R&D): Innovating and developing new products or services.

Remember, it’s not just about what you’re building; it’s about how you’re deploying capital within your business to achieve targeted and impactful outcomes.

The Strategic Advantage of Government Funding

Realizing that grants are designed to fund specific projects rather than your entire business is a crucial shift in understanding. This approach allows you to pinpoint areas that can benefit most from external funding, making your applications more targeted and effective. Now, let’s uncover the reasons why government funding is a crucial asset for business owners.

Why Government Funding is a Game-Changer for Entrepreneurs

Let’s talk about why government funding feels like hitting the jackpot for many business owners. Imagine you’re playing a high-stakes game of Monopoly, and someone gives you extra cash without asking for any properties in return. That’s the beauty of government funding—it’s capital you can use without giving away a slice of your business.

"It doesn't take any equity in your business, which means that you can take this capital without giving up a literal piece of your business."

Unlike equity financing, where investors take a piece of your company (often the most expensive money you’ll ever take), government funding allows you to keep full ownership. Think of equity like renting out rooms in your house to strangers; sure, you get money, but you lose some control over your own space. With government funding, you’re essentially getting a home improvement grant without any strings attached.

The Freedom of Debt-Free Growth

Government funding also differs from loans. It’s like receiving a gift card to your favorite store—no need to pay it back, unless you break the rules. This means you can inject this capital directly into your business for growth and expansion, without the looming worry of repayments hanging over your head.

Maintaining Control and Focus

One of the most empowering aspects of government funding is the control it affords you. Imagine you’re an artist with a blank canvas; you get to choose the projects and initiatives that are most crucial for your business’s growth. This level of autonomy is rare in the world of business funding, where strings are often attached, and priorities can be influenced by external parties.

"You get to pick the projects in your business that are worth pursuing external funding for. So you've got to use your judgment and prioritize based on what is relevant in your business to achieve your goals."

Navigating the world of business funding can feel like managing a multi-course meal, each serving a unique purpose. There are six primary “buckets” or categories of funding that we often discuss: capital expenditure funding, hiring money, sustainability funding, training, market expansion, and research & development (R&D). Today, we’ll dive into the hiring bucket.

Exploring the Power of Hiring Grants: Key Benefits and Insights

The government is eager to co-invest with you in expanding your business opportunities. Here are five key reasons we love hiring grants and how they can be game-changers for your business.

1. Stackable Like Building Blocks

One of the coolest features of hiring grants, or wage subsidies, is their stackability. Think of it like stacking LEGO bricks to build something bigger and stronger. You can combine federal and provincial grants to cover up to 100% of a new hire’s wages. As long as you’re not profiting off these grants and they are technically subsidizing different dollars, you can stack them to fully subsidize a hire for a certain period.

"You can get 50% from the feds and 50% from the provincial hiring grant and in theory have a fully subsidized hire."

2. Multiple Grant Cycles Every Year

Navigating the world of hiring grants can feel like walking through a vast orchard with countless fruit-bearing trees. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of hiring grants available, each with its own intake period. Some open multiple times a year, while others may only be available once every three years. This constant flux is why we host webinars—to help you make sense of the myriad options available. You’re not limited to a single program or hire; you can tap into various grants to significantly expand your team. 

3. Funding Multiple Employees, All at Once

You’re not limited to a single program or hire; you can tap into various grants to significantly expand your team. This means you can fund multiple employees at once, allowing your business to scale more rapidly and efficiently if that aligns with your growth strategy.

4. Funding the Same Intern, Multiple Times

A standout feature of some hiring grants is their flexibility to be used across multiple funding periods for the same hire. Initially, you use the grant to hire and train an intern. Then, you can reapply for funding to retain that intern, bringing even more value to your company. This approach not only maximizes your return on investment (ROI) but also fosters long-term growth and development within your team.

"You use the first round of funding to hire and train your intern and then you can claim funding again to keep them on and bring even more value to your company."

5. High ROI with Minimal Effort

Applying for hiring grants might seem daunting at first. However, once you get the hang of it, the rewards are substantial. These grants offer a significant ROI with relatively low application effort compared to many other programs. They might be tricky in the beginning, but the benefits they provide far outweigh the initial challenges.

To maximize these benefits, it’s crucial to understand the specific profiles of candidates that hiring grants are designed to support. Each type of candidate brings unique advantages to your business, and knowing how to leverage these grants effectively can make a substantial difference. By aligning your hiring strategy with these profiles, you can tap into a wealth of talent while optimizing the financial support available through these grants.

Understanding the Five Key Candidate Profiles for Hiring Grants

When it comes to hiring grants, it’s important to recognize the specific types of candidates these programs are designed to support. There are five main candidate profiles that typical hiring grants fund: students, youth, research roles, newcomers, and the recently unemployed. Let’s explore each of these profiles and how they can benefit your business.

1. Students

Think of students as budding professionals ready to blossom into valuable team members. Hiring grants often support those currently enrolled in a Canadian post-secondary institution. These grants can provide a substantial wage subsidy, typically covering 50-70% of the salary, up to $7,000 every semester. The tricky part is navigating the various delivery agents, each with its own eligibility criteria. This is where tools like Pocketed come in handy, helping you find the best match for your candidate and role.

2. Youth

Youth, typically defined as individuals 30 years or younger, bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to your team. Some hiring grants specifically target this demographic, whether they are recent graduates or not. These grants are like catching a wave of youthful energy, ready to propel your business forward. 

3. Research 

For businesses involved in R&D, research grants are a goldmine. These subsidies allow you to collaborate with post-secondary institutions, leveraging the expertise of students, post-grads, and even post-doctoral candidates. It’s like having a think tank dedicated to your product development and strategic projects.

"Not only do you get the support of an intern, but also their academic advisors and the post-secondary institution."

4. Newcomer

Newcomer grants are designed for individuals who have recently immigrated to Canada and obtained permanent resident status or citizenship within the last five years. These grants help integrate fresh talent with diverse perspectives into your team, enriching your business culture and innovation capacity.

5. Unemployed

Provincial subsidies often support individuals who have recently been unemployed. Programs like the Work BC Wage Subsidy provide up to $12,000 to hire these candidates, offering them a fresh start while helping your business grow.

Understanding these candidate profiles and the specific grants available to support them is only the first step. The real impact of hiring grants becomes evident through practical application and success stories. When businesses effectively leverage these grants, they not only gain financial support but also access a diverse pool of talent that drives growth and innovation. Let’s delve into some real-world examples of how hiring grants have transformed businesses, providing the necessary resources to bring in new talent and expand their teams.

Success Stories of Recent Pocketed Customers:

Customer Spotlight: Digital Software Company

  • Grant Received: $28,000
  • Location: British Columbia + Ontario, National Operations
  • Funding: Youth Hiring Grant
  • Impact: “Pocketed opened my eyes from the beginning to see what is available and what we are eligible for. I can safely say one of the great and heartwarming things that happened to me was that I could secure youth funding, introduced by Pocketed, which fully reimbursed an intern’s salary.”

Customer Spotlight: Tech Company

  • Grant Received: $37,500
  • Location: Alberta
  • Funding: Student and Youth Hiring Grants
  • Impact: “In the absence of Pocketed, I would never have been able to secure funding to grow our team. Just weeks after learning about the program, we had an intern in our office making valuable contributions to our project.”

Customer Spotlight: Engineering Services Firm

  • Grant Received: $50,000
  • Location: Alberta
  • Funding: Youth and Newcomer Hiring Grants
  • Impact: Pocketed secured several grants to help grow my team while alleviating the financial burden of onboarding. Working with their grant writers made the application process hassle-free and allowed me to focus on what I do best: run by business” 

The Challenge of Hiring Grants: Understanding the Layers of Eligibility

Hiring grants can feel like navigating a maze with multiple twists and turns. What often makes them challenging is the three layers of eligibility that must be met. This complexity can make it difficult to understand and prioritize which grants to pursue. Let’s break down these layers to make the process more manageable.

1. Company Eligibility

First, your company must be eligible for the grant program. Think of this as the foundation of a house; without a solid foundation, you can’t build the rest. Generally, your company needs to be a Canadian small or medium enterprise (SME), startup, social enterprise, or nonprofit. Most programs require your company to have fewer than 500 employees, although there are exceptions. Additionally, you must be able to provide a safe and supportive environment for interns.

"Your company must be eligible for the program. Otherwise, you don't advance to the next step."

2. Role Eligibility

Next, the specific role you’re looking to fund must meet the grant’s requirements. Imagine this as choosing the right tools for a project—each tool must be suitable for the task. The role must align with the unique parameters set by the funder. Understanding how to frame your role correctly is crucial, as it can determine whether you receive the funding.

3. Candidate Eligibility

Finally, the person you hire must meet the eligibility criteria. This is like adding the final pieces to a puzzle—every piece must fit perfectly. Candidates typically need to be Canadian citizens, refugees, or permanent residents. Age and educational background can also be factors, especially with youth and student grants, which often require candidates to be 30 years or younger or enrolled in a Canadian post-secondary institution.

"The person that you hire has to meet the eligibility. So we think of it as hiring trifecta."

Navigating the Hiring Trifecta

Oftentimes, businesses are unsuccessful because they don’t choose the right funder to match their unique “triangle of eligibility.” A significant part of securing hiring grants is understanding how to frame your role and candidate’s experience to meet the funder’s requirements. Our team of grant specialists is adept at helping you navigate this landscape, ensuring that your application stands out.

Overcoming Common Challenges

One common hurdle is the requirement to employ people on payroll, which can seem daunting. However, there are solutions to simplify this process, making it less overwhelming. This step is crucial because it ensures the grants are creating jobs for Canadians.

Understanding Regional Nuances

Each grant program may have unique requirements based on regional priorities. For example, some grants focus on equity and support for rural communities. These nuances align with government goals and can affect eligibility criteria.

"Understanding how to frame your role correctly and align your candidate’s experience is crucial."

Recognizing Government Priorities

It’s important to remember that the primary goal of these grants is to create jobs for Canadians. This is why candidates are usually required to be Canadian citizens, refugees, or permanent residents. While this can be frustrating, it aligns with the government’s rate of return—investing in job creation for Canadians. Occasionally, grants for newcomers or international students, like the MyTax Program, are available and provide opportunities for broader eligibility.

By breaking down the complexities and providing clear guidance, we aim to make the process of securing hiring grants more accessible and effective for your business.

So, How Exactly Do Hiring Grants Work?

Navigating the hiring grants process is like building a house—each stage is crucial and requires careful planning and execution to create a strong foundation and a successful outcome. Let’s break down the stages of securing hiring grants, making the process clear and manageable.

1. Pre-Approval for Company and Role

The journey begins with getting pre-approval for your company and the specific role you intend to fill. This step is akin to laying the groundwork for a new project. Depending on the funder, this pre-approval stage can take anywhere from two to three weeks, although timelines can vary. Each funder structures this process differently; some have strict deadlines and competitive review processes, while others operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

2. Hiring an Eligible Candidate

After securing pre-approval, the next step is to hire an eligible candidate. Think of this as selecting the right ingredients for your recipe. In some cases, you need to hire the candidate before submitting your application package. In other instances, you can proceed with the hire after receiving pre-approval.

3. Final Approval and Contribution Agreement

Once you’ve hired an eligible candidate, you move on to obtaining final approval for both the employee and your role as an employer. This stage involves signing a contribution agreement, which is like sealing the deal. It secures your funding, provided you meet all reporting requirements to avoid losing it.

4. Payroll and Reporting

The next step is ensuring your new hire is on payroll, which is non-negotiable for most programs. Imagine this as ensuring all the ingredients in your recipe are properly prepared. After this, regular reporting is necessary to get reimbursed. Different programs have various funding schedules: some provide funding upfront, others midway, and some at the end or even monthly.

"Regular reporting is necessary to get reimbursed. Different programs have various funding schedules."

Strategic Decisions: Choosing the Right Delivery Agent

Choosing the right delivery agent is crucial for navigating the nuances of different grant programs. This decision is akin to selecting the right map for your journey. Delivery agents vary in their processes, industry focus, and documentation requirements. Our team of grant specialists can help you navigate these nuances to find the best fit for your needs.

"Choosing the right delivery agent is such a critical component of pursuing hiring grants because they all function differently."

Supporting Your Grant Application 

While our professional grant assistance can be a great option, we understand you might prefer a DIY approach. Create a FREE profile to see which grants you’re eligible for and explore our resources designed to help you navigate the process at your own pace. Don’t get overwhelmed – start exploring grants today!

Essential Tips for Securing Hiring Grants

1. Timing is Everything

One of the most crucial aspects of securing hiring grants is timing. Think of it as planting a garden: you need to sow your seeds at the right time to ensure a bountiful harvest. Planning ahead, identifying the programs that interest you, and hiring an eligible candidate are all essential steps. Pocketed software can be an invaluable tool here, providing detailed information about candidate eligibility for various grants. Make sure to redeem your free account and start filtering for the hiring grants that fit your needs.

"Timing really matters with hiring grants. You need to make sure that you're planning ahead."

2. Finding the Right Candidates

Think of finding eligible interns as a treasure hunt. University career centers, online job boards, and even social media can be your map. Connecting with local post-secondaries or looking for remote students opens up a wider talent pool. Make it clear on your career site and job postings that hiring is contingent on securing a hiring grant, and specify the criteria candidates must meet. Young people are eager to work in places where they can make a meaningful impact.

Resources and Platforms:

  • Local Post-Secondary Institutions: Partner with university career centers for a direct line to students and recent graduates.
  • Online Job Boards: Platforms like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and specialized internship platforms can help you reach a broad audience.
  • Social Media: Leverage platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to attract tech-savvy and digitally native candidates.
  • Your Career Site: Clearly state that positions are contingent on grant funding and outline the eligibility criteria.

3. Understanding Eligibility Requirements

Ensuring eligibility involves considering three key elements: the company, the role, and the candidate. Think of this as a three-legged stool—each leg must be strong and stable for the stool to stand.

  1. Company Eligibility: Your company must meet specific criteria, generally being a Canadian SME, startup, social enterprise, or nonprofit. Most programs require that your company has fewer than 500 employees.

  2. Role Eligibility: The role you’re looking to fund must meet the grant’s specific requirements. For example, STEM roles in environmental or sustainability sectors might be a perfect match.

  3. Candidate Eligibility: Candidates typically need to be Canadian citizens, refugees, or permanent residents. Age and educational background can also be factors.

4. Choosing the Right Delivery Agent

Selecting the right delivery agent is like choosing the right guide for an expedition. Different agents have specific industry focuses and varying processes. For example, the Hospitality Student Work Placement Program might not suit a tech startup, but Venture for Canada, which loves to fund entrepreneurial organizations, could be an excellent fit. Use tools like Pocketed or seek grant writing support to identify the best delivery agent for your needs.

Strategies:

  • Industry Focus: Ensure the delivery agent specializes in your industry.
  • Geographic Coverage: Verify that the agent funds placements in your location.
  • Application and Reporting Process: Choose agents with manageable documentation and reporting requirements.
  • Payment Structure: Understand the payment schedule (upfront, midway, or end) to align with your cash flow needs.

5. Setting Up Payroll

Setting up payroll can seem daunting, but it’s a critical step. Imagine it as building a sturdy bridge; it ensures your new hire is officially on board and compliant with grant requirements. Solutions like Wave offer payroll support, making the process straightforward and cost-effective. Setting up payroll ensures compliance with grant requirements and simplifies tax calculations and remittances.

Tools and Resources:

  • Wave: Offers accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll support.
  • Cost: Typically around $20 a month, making it affordable for small businesses.
  • Customer Support: Excellent customer service to help with setup and ongoing management.
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