More Veterans are Self-Employed than Non-Vet Counterparts
United States veterans have proudly risked their lives protecting their country and fellow Americans. What do they do with their time after they’ve completed their duty with the armed forces?
Between getting a regular job and starting a business, the prospect of creating jobs and earning more money may be a more lucrative option. At present, there are more than 18 million veterans in the US and veterans own about 9% of businesses.
Veterans face their own challenges on their journey to entrepreneurship, like finding funding and lack of mentorship. This is often as difficult as it would be for any aspiring entrepreneur. Kevin Rosenberg, a Navy veteran and owner of Gear to Go Outfitters says that “Veterans who have served just four years in the military leave with more leadership and problem-solving experience than most others do in their lifetime. But most civilians don’t recognize this, especially (traditional) loan officers.”
The good news is that there are many organizations (both private and non-profit) that have set up programs and resources to help veterans succeed in their transition to entrepreneurship.
Boots to Business
This program is offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and is a free education and training program for veterans who want to start their own businesses. This is a three-part course that begins with two days of the basics of business ownership and ends with multiple online courses. They also assist veterans by guiding them through evaluating business concepts and even in creating a business plan. The course is available for all veterans and their partners and spouses as well.
The Institute for Veterans and Military Families is a program at Syracuse University that provides education and training for veterans to start their own businesses. The Boots to Business program, Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship program and the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) are included in this. The key benefit of this program is that it has more than 30 industry recognized career options and courses for veterans to choose from.
The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program aims to provide necessary working capital that a business is unable to meet, because an essential employee (a military personnel) was called back for active military duty. The loans are not intended to cover for lost income or lost profits and can’t be used to replace commercial debt, expand the business or refinance long term debt. These loans are limited to an amount of $2 million charged at 4% interest with a maximum term of 30 years. The loan can only be applied when the military reservist is notified that the personnel is being called up. If veterans are in immediate need of finance, the best option would be to go for a less stringent small business loan.
Patriot Boot Camp
This is a nonprofit organization whose aim is to equip active duty military personnel, veterans and their spouses with education, community development and other resources they’d require to become tech entrepreneurs. They leverage a robust nationwide network of business and startup thought leaders to guide aspiring veteran entrepreneurs.
Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program
A business that is considered to be an SDVOSB may be eligible for set-asides in federal contracts with values of up to $5 Million. To qualify for this program, a business must meet the following requirements:
- It must be a small business
- At least 51% of the business must be owned by one or more service-disabled veterans and have one or more of them manage operations and make long-term decisions.
- The veteran(s) must have a service-related disability.
The Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship is a three-phase program that includes a 15-day online training course, face-to-face training and mentorship program for women veteran entrepreneurs to start a business. The challenges of being a woman entrepreneur are unique.
The program features a robust team of successful entrepreneurs and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and government leaders. Participants can also get first-hand guidance and information from a 2375 strong community of experienced women veteran entrepreneurs and military spouse entrepreneurs. The program costs just $75 and includes educational materials and lodging cost.
Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP)
The Veteran Institute for Procurement is an educational program for owners and C level executives of veteran-owned businesses to complete federal procurement opportunities. The program consists of a 27-hour comprehensive certification program covering over 20 topics including finance, accounting, business development, and human resources. The three training programs under VIP are:
- VIP Start: For companies looking to enter the federal market and become procurement ready.
- VIP GROW: The flagship curriculum that assists veteran-owned businesses with developing expansion strategies in the federal marketplace.
- VIP International: Exclusively for veteran-owned businesses that want to expand their commercial and federal contracting business overseas.
Veterans Business Resource Center
This is dedicated to helping veterans achieve their business dreams. The center caters to all veterans and active duty personnel, their immediate family members, and caregivers. They also equip veterans to use leadership, decision making and other relevant skills that they learned during service in a small business environment. Adequate training is also provided to understand the fundamentals of business plans, marketing, finance, along with webinars and professional counseling.
There are many challenges faced by veteran small business entrepreneurs in addition to adjusting to civilian life. We want to take this moment of your time to thank you for your service and we hope this post will help your business succeed!