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Pros: The government has specific units, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that can help businesses if the venture falls into their target development area. Grants.gov is an official federal portal for information and applications for government grants. The Small Business Innovation Research program gives away about $2 billion each year to fledgling high-tech companies.

Cons: "Grants, by their very nature, are given to non-profits or to existing companies taking advantage of a specific qualification that it has," McKinley says. The bottom line: Most ventures won't fit the very niche criteria of grant-giving organizations. Hopeful business owners can contact SCORE for guidance.

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