They serve the country, and once they're ready to transition back to civilian life, veterans should be able to achieve their business goals with confidence.
Thankfully, the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a variety of ways veterans can execute their dreams of business ownership. Whether it's through professional training, funding, or obtaining federal contracts, becoming a veteran-owned business is entirely possible with the right resources.
If you're a veteran looking to find ways to launch your career through a veteran-owned business, here are several things to consider:
People Want to Support Military Veterans
According to an independent study of over 500 Americans, 95% of consumers stated they feel trust and gratitude when it comes to supporting military veterans. In fact, 70% of those surveyed even claimed to be more likely to do business with veteran entrepreneurs than those who haven't served.
Not only are consumers more prone to supporting veteran communities, but even major corporations are purposely setting aside funds each year to allocate spending to involve veteran-owned businesses into their operations. In a quote from Craig Hopkins, the senior vice president and chief procurement officer at the United States Automobile Association (USAA), he explains that veteran-owned businesses are an essential component of [their] mission and [they] are committed to creating opportunities to help them become successful."
Needless to say, the momentum is there for veterans to thrive in a variety of industries. Plus, with assistance from other government programs, starting a veteran-owned business is easier than ever.
Register Your Veteran-Owned Business with the Right Help
To get started, you must first register your business as a veteran-owned small business (VOSB) through the Vets First verification program.
The Vets First verification program is run by the Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) and once you're approved, you'll have access to opportunities from other government agencies like the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, before you can apply online, you have to make sure that you meet the following qualifications:
Eligibility Requirements to Register as a VOSB
In order to register your business as a VOSB, here are the requirements you have to meet:
• Yourself or another veteran at your company must be a 51% owner
• Controls the daily operations and decision-making process
• Has previous managerial experience
• Receives the highest compensation as an employee of the company
• Contributes full-time hours to the business
• Obtains the highest officer position in the company
Of course, being a veteran is an important factor to qualify, although these two requirements are crucial to distinguish a veteran in good standing with the program:
• Must have served as an Active Duty member of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard without receiving an dishonorable discharge
• Or as a member of the National Guard and was called to federal active duty or got injured or contracted a disease that worsened during active duty or during training
There's also a qualification to register your VOSB as a service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB), and those wishing to claim this status must have one of these two circumstances:
• Possess a disability rating letter confirming your disability between 0 and 100%
• The Department of Defense has issued you a disability determination
Once you've confirmed that these requirements are met, you can go ahead and submit your application. Once it's approved, you can start taking advantage of tons of benefits to help your VOSB succeed.
Exclusive Benefits for VSOBs
With your business now registered as a VOSB, you gain exclusive access to a bevy of services and incentives from federal, state, and local agencies, as well as universities and nonprofits.
Primarily, the VA is one of the best resources available to you. With their assistance, you can get...
• Access to working capital
• Be within the first pool of applicants to bid on federal and state contracts
• Assistance with taxes and use relief programs
• Gain specialized support for a business with high-growth potential
• Free training and educational resources to enhance your business acumen
• Networking opportunities with industry professionals in government and private-sector firms
In addition to finding support from the VA, The SBA offers assistance and an expansive network of connections with different organizations to help you scale your business and improve your leadership skills. The Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) facilitates the use of SBA programs for veterans, so if you're interested in getting involved, use this helpful link to find a location near you and get started.
To give you an idea of what benefits the SBA can offer you, here are some points to explore:
• Access to lenders with competitive rates through the SBA's lender match tool
• Guaranteed loans through the SBA Veterans Advantage program
• Assistance loans through the Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (MREIDL)
• Veteran entrepreneurship training programs, such as Boots to Business, Women Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program (WVETP), Service Disabled Veteran Entrepreneurship Program (SDVETP), and the Veteran Federal Procurement Entrepreneurship Training Program (VFPETP)
• Exclusive veteran contracting through the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern Program (SDVOSBC)
After you research theses programs and find what's best for your business, counselors will work with you to bring your VOSB to the next level.
Veterans are a Strong Asset to the Workforce
Rather than the average entrepreneur, veterans are poised for success in the workforce because of their dedication and strong work ethic.
Veterans aren't strangers to uphill battles, to long hours of grueling tasks when their minds and bodies have nothing else to give. Unfortunately, it's estimated that 30% of new businesses fail within the first 2 years. 50% of them fail within the first 5 years, and 66% within the first 10 years.
The odds are certainly against those who want to start a business, regardless of if they're a veteran or a civilian. However, veterans have a taste of what extreme challenges can be, and with the help of programs like the VA and SBA, success is well within reach.