UPDATED: Oct 19, 2019
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Many veterans seek to create businesses in the United States after serving their country, and they continue to contribute to the country at home when they do. In fact, veteran-owned small business pay approximately $221 billion annually to roughly 5.5 million employees in the country. That is no small feat. Neither is getting a business off the ground.
Thankfully, there are several types of services, including grants, loans, insurance, special access, and education that can assist veterans in becoming business owners. Many of these programs are tailored to and exclusively available to US veterans.
Business Opportunities for Veterans
While you can always start a business on your own and reach out to find clients and opportunities, the US government offers both small business incentives and federal contracting opportunities for veterans to get started in or continue growing a veteran-owned business. This helps to make the process of getting and maintaining solid business contracts easier for returning veterans.
The USDA also helps veterans transition into agricultural work and entrepreneurship through programs such as their Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, Farm Loan Program, and Transition Incentives Program. They can help with crop insurance, the purchase of land and equipment, and more. While many veterans with prior agricultural experience take advantage of these opportunities, you can also utilize them as someone who is new to the industry.
- United States Department of Agriculture: Veterans and entrepreneurship
- Missouri Office of Equal Opportunity: Veterans in business
- gov: Help for military veteran and minority-owned businesses
Business Services for Veterans
There are services intended to help you make business connections with corporations interested in working with veterans. The government also works to encourage the employment of veterans, which extends to veteran-owned businesses. You are not alone. There is a military, non-profit, government, and even corporate network with a focus on veteran employment and entrepreneurship. Make sure that your business is certified as veteran-owned to take advantage of many of these opportunities.
Support can also be found at the state level, with many states offering assistance and incentives for local veteran-owned businesses.
- Vista College: Guide to military entrepreneurship
- National Veteran-Owned Business Association: Connecting corporate America to certified veteran’s business enterprises
Business Loans and Grants for Veterans
The Small Businesses Administration can help with a loan for your business with its Patriot Express program for veterans. There is also the Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan and the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program. Check their website, as the programs change from time to time.
SCORE and the US Department of Veterans’ Affairs are also great resources for discovering what assistance is currently available. Do not forget to check locally as well as in your field of business to see what other incentives and assistance are available to you.
- US Department of Veterans’ Affairs: Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
- Darren Soto, United States Congressman: Grant applicants
- SCORE: Small business grants and other resources for veterans
Educational Resources for Veteran Business Owners
The Small Business Administration has several educational programs for veteran business owners. They offer the Boots to Business program all around the world on various military installations and university campuses. They also have the Women Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program, the Service Disabled Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program, and the Veteran Federal Procurement Entrepreneurship Training Program.
Your spouse may also be able to get training and education for the purpose of starting or running a small business.
In addition to the above resources, check with your state veterans’ affairs office as well as your local universities. Many offer programs that are specifically geared towards veterans in business and may be more conveniently located than some federal programs.
- Small Business Administration: Veteran-owned businesses
- National Military Family Association: Spouse-owned business funding
National Veteran Business Resources
Federal resources are available to help you learn about and start a business as a veteran. Be sure to check the National Veteran Small Business Coalition for the latest news and developments regarding current funding and opportunities. The Veterans’ Affairs office and Small Business Administration should also be on the top of your list.
Also, look into veterans’ discounts on everything from franchise purchases to business insurance and financing.
- American Military Society: Military resources
- Coalition for Veteran Owned Business: How to create a financial business plan
- National Veteran Small Business Coalition: Home page
Local Veteran Business Resources
Each state has a veterans’ affairs office that can give you access and information regarding tax incentives, grants, loans, and other opportunities available at the state level. States, as well as many cities, also have a small business development center that will have opportunities and programs designed specifically for veterans. Do not be afraid to look into local government resources that do not appear specific to veterans. The majority have programs that include, or are exclusive to, veterans.
- New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs: Starting a veteran-owned business
- Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs: Mission: Veteran entrepreneurship
Resources for Women Veterans
There are training programs, such as the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship and Women Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program, that are geared specifically towards women veterans. There are also networking opportunities for veteran women in business through organizations such as Women Veterans Rock.
Organizations, such as the Street Shares Foundation, make sure that women are represented among their veteran business grant winners.
- Washington State Department of Veterans’ Affairs: Resources for women
- Syracuse College: V-wise
- Women Veterans Rock: Signature programs
- Street Shares Foundation: Inspire a new generation
Resources for Disabled Veterans
Financial assistance is available for disabled veterans through SCORE as well as through the Small Business Association and state and federal organizations for elderly and disabled individuals who would like to start or maintain a business.
In addition, The PenFed Foundation offers emergency financial assistance will help with heating, rent, mortgages, insurance, automotive loans, and more while you work on getting your business off the ground.
- AARP Foundation: Find support for your small business
- PenFed Foundation: Disabled American veterans: Emergency financial assistance
- University of Alaska Southeast: Journey to success: Employment tools for veterans with disabilities
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