According to CNNMoney, when hunting for cash, desperate small business owners may find themselves sucked into buying books and software packages promising "Billions in Free Grants!" from Web sites with names like NeverPayItBack.com, or hiring consultants who promise to find them gads of money. All they're likely to get, though, are empty promises.
Grants are rare, but the information you need to find and apply for legitimate ones is publicly available and free. For qualifying businesses, there really are opportunities to land free money from state, county and city governments, as well as private foundations and corporations.
The first step: Figure out if you qualify for any special small business certifications, such as a minority-owned, disadvantaged, woman-owned or veteran-owned business. Federal and state governments sometimes give priority for grants to these types of business owners.
Then look at your local government Web sites -- for your city, county and state -- and find the economic development agency or area equivalent. Many of these agencies offer government-sponsored grants to attract new businesses or help existing firms expand, train workers, or become more environmentally friendly.
Next, sign up at Grants.gov to receive information about specific kinds of federal grants.
Photo by treasury.gov.