Veterans in Small Businesses

This Veterans Day, we want to celebrate the many veterans who run their own companies. Did you know that there are more than 2.5 million small businesses owned and operated by veterans in the United States today? In fact, veterans with over 20 years of service have a higher rate of self-employment than the rest of the population.

Small Business OwnerHaving a military background can help you as an entrepreneur. The passion for serving, dedication and diligence that is learned in the military are great assets for those who want start a business. It’s no wonder why so many veterans are able to succeed at running their own company.

Landing a traditional job can be challenging for veterans. When you start your own business, you create a job that’s tailored to your unique skill set, and you also have the opportunity to create jobs for others. Businesses with under 50 employees actually account for 40% of jobs added to the economy.

Starting a business requires a significant investment of time and capital, but there are many programs dedicated to helping veterans get started. If you’re a veteran looking to start their own business, you should take advantage of these programs:

VA Self-Employment Grants for Service-Disabled Veterans
This is a great opportunity for vets with service-connected disabilities. There are two categories. The first is for veterans with severe disabilities for whom self-employment may be the only options for work. The second category is for less severe cases. These grants can be used to purchase inventory, equipment, marketing and licensing fees. This is a grant, so you will not have to pay it back. Contact your local Veteran’s Administration office for more information.

EVB National Program
This program is great training for starting a business. It begins with a 30-day online course on basic business skills and entrepreneurship. The next step is a 9-day residency in a university setting for intensive exposure to other successful entrepreneurs. The final phase is a year long program where you can access resources, training and mentors as you build your business. Check out the website to apply.

The SBA Patriot Express Small Business Loan
The Small Business Association supports the growth of small businesses around the country. They offer the Patriot Express loan where veterans can borrow between $150,000 and $500,000. A large percentage of these loans are guaranteed by the government, so this is a good way to secure financing for your new business. You will have to create a business plan in order to qualify for the loan. Contact your local SBA office for more information.

The Veterans’ Opportunity Fund
This is a venture capital fund that supports veteran-owned businesses. They seek to fund businesses that are in the early revenue stage or have a product or service available to evaluate. They work with business in technology, healthcare and business services industries. Apply on their website for consideration.

Starting a small business is a great way to continue serving your country. As a business leader, you will help your local economy and provide jobs for other Americans. Owning a business is not only a great way to make a living, but it is also a great service to your community.