Do you have the mindset to be an entrepreneur? Many of our veterans do.
In fact, of the 24 million military veterans in the U.S, four million are small business owners.
Moreover, statistics show that the success rate of these veteran-owned businesses is higher than other startups – perhaps a reflection of the discipline, skills, and leadership experience acquired in military service.
Providing further help, there are a number of tools and services from the SBA, VetBiz and other non-profit organizations specifically designed to help veterans with the formation and expansion of their business ventures.
This following list summarizes some of the general business guides, financing options, incentives, and other resources available to help veteran-owned businesses succeed.
Getting General Business Advice
If you are a current or prospective veteran business owner, familiarize yourself with the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) Web site – here you can find assistance, outreach and support for veterans interested in starting or expanding a small business.
Business.gov is also a great single source of information. It collates essential government resources for entrepreneurial veterans in one place. Bookmark this page for quick access to business development, training, and other veteran-owned small business assistance.
Financing for the Veteran-Owned Small Business
In the past 20 months, the SBA approved more than $250 million in loan guarantees to more than 2,800 veterans and their spouses.
Much of this funding comes from the SBA’s Patriot Express Pilot Loan. Launched in June 2007, the program is a streamlined loan product based on the agency’s SBA Express Program, but enhanced with guaranty and interest rate characteristics.
Loans are available up to $500,000 and qualify for SBA’s maximum guaranty of up to 85 percent for loans of $150,000 or less, and up to 75 percent for loans over $150,000 (up to $500,000).
The loan can be used for business purposes, including start-up, expansion, equipment purchases, working capital, inventory or business-related real estate purchases.
For more information about the loan, qualification criteria, and how to get started visit the Patriot Express home page here.
For information about other available loans from the federal government as well as programs in your state, use this government-developed Loans and Grants Search Tool.
Franchising Incentives for Veteran Entrepreneurs
If you want to be your own boss but are wary of the startup risks, buying a franchise offers an appealing alternative.
For veterans considering buying a franchise there are also added incentives. The VetFran program, started by the International Franchise Association, provides financial incentives to veteran franchise buyers that are not available to civilian franchise investors. Some of the 200 participating franchisors waive training fees, others discount franchise fees, but all agree to offer incentives for veterans.
A current list of participating companies and the discounts these franchise systems offer is available on this Web site, www.franchise.org, under “VetFran Directory.”
If you like the idea of a franchise, make sure to do your research first. This guide provides helpful advice on buying and evaluating a franchise and also includes information on how to avoid common scams.
Doing Business with Your Former Employer – Government Contracting
Many federal agencies and private businesses struggle to find enough veteran-owned businesses to meet their goals and contracting objectives in accordance with PL 106-50. You can find out more about how to become a federal contractor, find business opportunities, and the rules and regulations that federal contractors need to follow on Business.gov’s Government Contracting Small Business Guide.
You can also find tips about getting started with federal contracting here.
Talk to Other Veteran Business Owners
Last but not least, networking is essential to business growth. Veterans can interact and learn from the wider veteran’s community at events and conferences such as the National Veterans Small Business Conference. But you can also network and learn best practices from other veteran small business owners, query industry experts, and share experiences on community Web sites such as Veteranscorp.org and SCORE’s Veterans Virtual Resource Center and the Business.gov Community here.