Each year, approximately 180,000 veterans are returning to civilian life. A number of these returning vets are looking into starting their own businesses.
The qualities that veterans have developed—leadership, strong work ethic, ability to work with others – give them a leg up in terms of launching a business; in fact, in 2009, veteran-owned businesses made up 14% of all businesses in the U.S.
The process of starting a business can be intimidating, especially for those who are recently returning to the work force. However, with over 70% of American consumers indicating that they would prefer to do business with a veteran-owned business over one that is not veteran-owned (according to a NaVOBA study), incentives are high for both veterans and those who work with and for them.
For those veterans looking into starting up their own business or franchise, it’s important to be aware of the numerous resources available specifically for them. Training, financial help and overall resources for veterans are offered by a number of associations.
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Online Resources For Veterans to Utilize
To start off the list of overall resources, the Small Business Administration’s website is a great online resource for anyone looking into starting a small business. SBA.gov has a number of resources geared specifically towards veterans, as well. Their website offers advice to veterans on coming up with a business plan, estimating startup costs, hiring employees, financial assistance, and much more. The SBA website is a great place to start researching on one’s own.
Another government resource is VetBiz.gov, which is directly run through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Their website has a wide range of resources available specifically for veterans in general. For those veterans looking to start a business or franchise, VetBiz gives information related to mentoring and how to go about the process. To take full advantage of the assistance offered, businesses owned by veterans (or surviving spouses of a deceased disabled veteran) will need to go through a verification process.
SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) is a program that offers entrepreneurial training to veterans. Their website offers advice on various aspects of starting a business, from financial to managing a work/life balance, and their program offers veterans local workshops and mentoring opportunities in person and through email.
VetFran offers help to both veterans seeking employment and veterans looking to start up franchises. It is partnered with the IFA (International Franchise Association). Through VetFran, qualifying veterans can receive mentorship, financial assistance, and overall support for their goals.
Their website offers a searchable database of affiliated companies that offer assistance to veterans, lays out the basics of looking into franchise ownership in simple steps, and gives a realistic look at startup costs and hurdles to overcome when starting a franchise.
An association that works with pairing small businesses and specifically veteran-owned small businesses is Veteranscorp.org. As a volunteer-run organization, Veteranscorp partners with Veterans Business Services (VBS), among others, to facilitate partnerships and the mentoring of business-minded veterans.
Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans
EBV (Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities) specifically offers assistance to vets with service-related disabilities. According to the EBV website, 30% of post-9/11 vets have a service-related disability; their program, then, is applicable to a range of veterans.
EBV works to provide mentorship to veterans in helping them develop the skill sets needed for getting into the business world. In essence, there are a number of associations that are geared towards helping veterans starting out in the franchising and business world, and vets should take advantage of them.
Related Article: Reporting for Duty: Why Franchises are Courting Veterans
Financial Assistance for Veterans
Tax breaks have existed for employers who hire veterans, but what about financial help for veterans looking to start up their own business? In terms of specific financial assistance, the SBA offers a few loan programs to veterans in particular; the Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative is one.
Another is the Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan, which is a loan program set up specifically for small businesses that are suffering economic injury or hardship due to an owner or employee being called into military reserve duty. Mentorship programs like the ones listed in this article will often offer varying types of financial assistance in the form of loans or discounts, or they will help point veterans towards applicable financial help as part of their mentoring or online services.
Veterans who want to start up their own business have more resources than ever to help them along the way. Though the process of staring up a business or franchise may be intimidating, the qualities of success that veterans possess will go a long way in helping them achieve their goals, and taking advantage of the support offered through various mentorship programs and financial assistance available today will help ensure success.