17 Resources for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), veterans are 45% more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans. In total, there are more than 2.4 million veteran-owned businesses in the U.S., which collectively employ more than 5.8 million people. The majority of these companies are small businesses, with about 78% doing $100,000 or more in annual sales.
If you are a veteran running your own business or nonprofit, you likely already know the challenges and opportunities that come with entrepreneurship. However, did you know there are exclusive programs, loans, and other services available for veterans just like you? To help celebrate National Veterans Small Business Week, we're exploring 17 of the most popular resources for veteran-owned businesses.
What Are Veteran Business Resources?
Every year, about 200,000 men and women transition back to civilian life following their military service in the U.S. To help these individuals find a successful career outside the military, the government and other organizations have instituted programs and services to help train veteran business owners and secure funding for their new ventures.
How to Qualify for Veteran Business Resources
While every program or service may have its own unique set of requirements, a business must typically be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more veteran or service-disabled veterans.
Veteran status may include:
- Active Duty Military service members
- Honorably Discharged Veterans
- National Guard Members
- Service-Disabled Veterans
Education, Training, & Networking
Below are some in-person and online courses, organizations, and programs that provide veterans training and support. These educational resources help teach business fundamentals and connect veterans with extended networks, mentors, and partners.
1. SBA Outreach Centers
The Small Business Administration is one of the largest supporters of veteran-owned business resources. They offer a variety of tools and programs on a local and national level. To start, you can find your local resources by visiting their Veteran Business Outreach Centers online search.
2. Boots to Business Programs
The Boots to Business and Boots to Business Reboot are two of the SBA's most popular programs. Both offer veterans entrepreneurial education and training as part of the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program (TAP). Participants will receive an overview of entrepreneurship fundamentals that any small business owner would find very useful.
3. The Institute for Veterans and Military Families Entrepreneurship Programs
The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) is located at Syracuse University and helps serve thousands of veterans and their family members every year.
Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship
IVMF's Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship program focuses on giving women vets the knowledge and skills they need to turn their business dreams into a reality.
Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities
Founded at Syracuse University in 2007, the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities helps open the world of higher education to disabled veterans by providing tools and resources to follow their entrepreneurial passions.
4. Veterans Entrepreneurship Program
The Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP) at Oklahoma State University trains disabled veterans for small business ownership.
5. Dog Tag Inc.
Founded in cooperation with the SBA, Dog Tag Inc. is a private organization that helps service members transition to civilian life by offering education and on-the-job training.
6. Veteran and Military Business Owners Association
The Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA) is a nonprofit created to help veteran-owned businesses. Membership in this association is free and offers various networking and educational opportunities for members.
7. National Veteran Small Business Coalition
The National Veteran Small Business Coalition (NVSBC) is a nonprofit trade association that helps represent veteran-owned small businesses in the federal marketplace with contracting opportunities.
8. National Veteran-Owned Business Association
The National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps connect corporate America with veteran-owned businesses.
9. Veteran Entrepreneur Portal
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers various services for veteran-owned businesses. You can see them all by visiting their Veteran Entrepreneur Portal.
10. Patriot Boot Camp
Founded in 2012, the Patriot Boot Camp is a nonprofit that offers active duty service members, veterans, and their spouses access to mentors and educational opportunities to help build impactful businesses.
Funding, Grants, & Loans
Every business needs proper funding to start up and make improvements. Funding options include grants and loans specifically for veterans. Below are some of the options you will have as a veteran business owner to fund your startup costs, expansions, and more.
11. SBA Veterans Advantage 7(a) Loan
The SBA Veterans Advantage 7(a) Loan is one of the most used options among veteran-owned businesses. This government-backed loan offers low rates and down payment options compared to traditional small business loans.
12. Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (MREIDL) can be used by a business to cover working capital needs when one of their employees is called back to active duty.
13. VA Small Business Grants
The VA offers various Small Business Grants for businesses that meet specific requirements. These grants do not need to be repaid like a small business loan and are available for a variety of qualifying veteran-owned businesses.
14. VA VR&E Business Ownership Track
Through their Business Ownership Track, the VA helps veterans with service-connected disabilities obtain employment or start a business.
15. Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business Program
The U.S. government sets aside 3% of contracting money for veteran-owned businesses. The Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business Program helps businesses owned by veteran entrepreneurs access these contracting dollars.
16. StreetShares Foundation
The StreetShares Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has helped award thousands of dollars to veteran-owned small businesses. It was formed on Veterans Day 2016 and helps veterans access capital opportunities, educational content, mentors, coaching, and networking events.
17. Hivers and Strivers Angel Fund
The Hivers and Strivers Angel Fund is an angel investment firm that helps fund startups founded and run by graduates of the U.S. Military Academies.
To all the veterans out there, we at Swyft Filings thank you for your service. We hope these resources can help you achieve your small business dreams. You've already proved you can rise to meet any challenge. Now it's time to seize the day and make those dreams a reality.
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