Special Assistance for Veterans Starting or Growing Businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA's) Office of Advocacy found that about 9% of U.S. businesses are veteran-owned. One in four veterans become business owners, compared with 1 in 11 in the general population.  Military service may prepare you for business success. Whether you're just out of the service or have been out for some time, the federal government offers a number of programs to help you start your own business. Many programs also help veterans expand existing businesses.

Access to funding
The SBA has a new initiative to help veterans access capital to start businesses or expand existing ones. Called the SBA Veteran Pledge initiative, it represents a new commitment by national, regional, and community lenders to increase lending to veteran-owned businesses by 5% per year over the next five years.
 
Contracting opportunities
Veterans with a service-related disability can more easily qualify for federal contracting opportunities. Why? The federal government is obligated to allocate 3% of all its federal contracts to businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. You can see how much has actually been awarded to such businesses in the government's 2013 fiscal year (ending September 30, 2013) here. Businesses with owners who do not have service-related disabilities may also compete for federal contracts, but the federal government has no stated goal to assist this category of owners.
 
To qualify as a service-disabled, veteran-owned business, you must be verified. Learn more about verification here.
 
Training and guidance
The SBA has an Office of Veterans Business Development, which provides access to business training, counseling, and assistance.
 
Starting in August of this year, look for the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (VWISE). This is an entrepreneurial training program for female veterans.
 
Resources
If you are a veteran in business or who wants to be in business, here are some useful links:
  • The National Veteran-Owned Business Association is a trade association creating opportunities for America's 3 million veteran-owned businesses. Here you can find a list of veteran-friendly franchises and subscribe to Vetrepreneur Magazine.
  • The National Veterans Small Business Conference is being held this year August 6–8 in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • The SBA's Operation Boots to Business program is geared toward transitioning service members. It teaches them the basics of small business ownership and helps them find other SBA tools to help them get started as entrepreneurs.
  • VetBiz, part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, is a gateway to services and programs for business owners who are veterans.
  • VeteransCorp is a volunteer organization that facilitates collaborations between nonprofit and for-profit small business entities and veteran-owned small businesses.
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