Every year, during the month of November, the nation and U.S. government recognize and celebrate the National Veterans Small Business Week. And rightly so - one out of every 10 small businesses in American is started by a vet. These companies employ nearly 6 million workers and generate more than $1.2 trillion in revenues. 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. As SBA administrator, Maria Contreras-Sweet states, "this is a talent pool we must nurture."
To help veterans succeed in the transition from service to entrepreneurship, extensive support from both the public and private sector is readily available. Here's a rundown of free training, financing and mentoring opportunities available to vets.
Get your business off the ground with Veterans Business Outreach Centers
Whether you need help putting together a business plan or need the advice of a business counselor, SBAs Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs) provide free entrepreneurial development services including business training, support, mentoring and more. VBOCs are situated throughout the U.S.
Boots to Business Program - SBA and DoD help vets make the transition to business
Boots to Business is a free, three-step training program developed to introduce and train transitioning service members to business ownership. The program is sponsored by the SBA and is offered as a component of the Department of Defense's (DoD) redesigned Transition Assistance Program (TAP) renamed Transition GP.
Boots to Business gives vets the tools and knowledge they need to identify a business opportunity, draft a business plan, connect with local small business resources and launch their small business.
Need capital? Low-fee loans and workshops boost veterans' access to funding
If you need financing to start or expand, consider the SBAExpress loan program. It offers low-interest rates and streamlined, expedited procedures for members of the military community (responses to loan applications are made in 36 hours). It's also worth knowing that fees on all SBA loans have never been more favorable and are currently set at zero for loans under $150,000.
To help you take advantage of capital opportunities, check out a VetCap (capital for veterans) event in your region. VetCap national workshops are focused on educating veterans on where and how to raise capital. The workshops also connect veterans to a network of financial sources. More information on specific VetCap events is available through SBA's district and regional offices.
Woman-owned veteran small business programs
Resources to start up and grow a woman-owned veteran small business are at your fingertips!
- Womens Business Centers (WBCs) are designed to assist women to start and grow small businesses. WBCs operate with the mission to 'level the playing field' for women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the world of business. WBCs offer comprehensive training and guidance on a variety of topics in many languages to help them start and grow their own businesses.
- Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship(VWISE) is an entrepreneurial training program that assists female veterans to discover their business passion and learn business-savvy skills. VWISE is a three-phase program that includes online self-study courses, a three-day conference, and ongoing support from mentors. To apply, visit Whitman.syr.edu/vwise.
Check out SBAs women-owned business guide for additional information.
Events, seminars and fairs
Bookmark SBAs event calendar for info about nationwide and online veteran-specific training, networking and outreach events.
Other essential resources
The SBA offers a wealth of resources for veterans through its Office of Veterans Business Development. For a useful round-up of just how the agency can help you view this quick video.
Other public and private sector resources include:
- SBA's Veteran and Service-Disabled Veteran Small Business Guide - A one-stop portal with links to programs and resources, financing information, government contracting opportunities and other resources.
- Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) - If you don't have a Veteran Business Outreach Center in your area, you're very likely to find an SBDC nearby. Each center provides business training, seminars and one-on-one consulting. Sponsored and partially funded by SBA, these centers also offer support for veterans, including help with understanding their financing options.
- SCORE: Counselors to America's Small Business - SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. Volunteer business counselors, advisors and mentors provide free, confidential business counseling; free business tools; and inexpensive or free business workshops to aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners.
- Vets in Technology - Entering the technology field? Get help from Vets in Technology.
- VetFran - Interested in opening a franchise business? VetFran supports veterans and their spouses? ability to access franchise opportunities through education on the franchise industry, financial assistance and industry mentorship.