According to the United States Census Bureau, about 2.52 million businesses in America are majority-owned by military veterans.
And 99.9 percent of them? Are small businesses.
If you’re a current or former service member thinking of opening up an establishment of your own, or if you already have a business plan and are trying to get started, there are a number of resources you can take advantage of to make the overwhelmingly colossal financial commitment to do so … manageable. Doable.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers support for vets trying to “hang out their own shingle”, through training, federal contracting opportunities and funding.
To check on your G.I. Bill benefits for business training or education that could fortify your enterprise, click here.
Where Can Vets Go to Get Small Business Funding?
Lender Match: SBA offers this online tool that matches vets with lenders.
SBA Veterans Advantage: If a business is at least 51-percent owned by veterans or military spouses, this program can guarantee a loan it takes out.
SBA Veteran’s Entrepreneurship Act of 2015: According to their website, it “reduces the upfront borrower fee to zero dollars for eligible veterans and military spouses for SBA Express loans up to $350,000.”
The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (MREIDL): If a business loses an essential employee because they were called to active duty in the Reserves or National Guard, this program can provide loans up to $2 million to cover operating costs caused by the departure.
Register with the VA: As a veteran-owned small business, you can register as such with the VA (as a VOSB) or as a SDVOSB (Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business) through their Veterans First Verification Program. It can provide contract-bidding advantages (with state and federal governments) as well tax relief, easier access to financing and capital and counseling.
Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC): A resource that helps if your business wants to sell to the federal government (they can assist with completing the required documentation and registration to bid on government contracts).
Where Can Vets Get Free Business or Entrepreneurial Training?
SBA also offers resources, like programs and the ability to contact trusted small business experts.
Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE): The program offers mentoring through a network, online training, as well as a conference that “harnesses the unique esprit de corps of women veterans and female military spouses.”
The National Center for Veteran Institute Procurement: They can help veterans or service-disabled veterans navigate the federal contracting market by training them on how to go about the process.
Boots to Business: Part of the Department of Defense (DoD) and its Transition Assistance Program (TAP), it offers courses on entrepreneurship on military installations all across the globe (for active-duty service members).
Boots to Business Reboot: An extension of the original, it offers a similar program and tutelage to veterans.
Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities: A program run by Syracuse University in New York, that offers training and management expertise to post-9/11 veterans with service-connected disabilities and military family member caretakers.
Department of Labor’s Veteran information site: A page listing a number of resources offered by SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD).
USA.gov’s Small Business site: Offers a number of links that can teach veterans (and civilians alike) how to — for example — start an importing and/or exporting business, start a nonprofit, business taxes and incentives, loans and funding, contracting and more.
To contact a trained specialist who can provide assistance with any of the above, click here.
For more information on registering your business, and more, click here.