Veteran-owned businesses are an integral part of the U.S. economy. Nearly one-tenth of all businesses in the United States are veteran-owned, and they employ some five million people1. And no matter the idea, product, or service, all new businesses can benefit from a helping hand to get them off the ground. For veterans, there are a number of resources available to do just that. Here is a sampling of programs veterans can use to get a business up and running.
This nonprofit was started by veterans for veterans. It provides services at every stage of their entrepreneurial journey through online courses and networking opportunities. Some of their offerings are:
- Launch Lab Online – an interactive, game-like education platform for active servicemembers and veterans
- Veterans in Residence – six months of free work space to veteran-owned companies in 21 cities
- CEO Circle – a monthly round-table mentoring program in some 25 cities
Veterans Advantage Guaranteed Loans
The Small Business Association (SBA) offers personalized loan programs to help veterans raise capital to start and grow a business. It offers “fee relief” on some SBA-guaranteed loans to veterans and their spouses. Businesses owned and operated by any one of the following qualify:
- Honorably discharged veterans
- Active-duty servicemembers eligible for the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP)
- Members of the Guard and Reserve
- Spouses of active-duty servicemembers or veterans
- Service-disabled veterans
- Widowed spouses of servicemembers who died while serving or as the result of a service-connected disability
Boots to Business
Funded by the SBA, Boots to Business is part of TAP. It provides free entrepreneurial training to servicemembers (and their spouses) transitioning out of the military. The program has two parts:
- Introduction to Entrepreneurship – a two-day course on the skills, knowledge, and resources they will need to be successful
- B2B – an online follow-up course to help vets refine business models and connect with successful small business owners
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, an agency of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provides an online portal called VetBiz to help veteran entrepreneurs navigate applications for federal contracts.
Hivers and Strivers
Hivers and Strivers is an angel investment group that helps secure start-up funding for businesses founded and managed by graduates of the U.S. service academies. Many of the group’s investors are veterans, who act as board members and advisors to the start-ups it in which they invest.
Founded by two veterans, this nonprofit provides funding to veteran business owners that banks often won’t lend to. Street Shares is a digital financing platform. It offers lines of credit, small business loans, and other types of working capital.
Street Shares also offers educational services, mentoring and coaching, and networking events. Its Veteran Small Business Award is a grant program that provides funds to qualified veteran entrepreneurs and military spouses to start or grow a new business or non-profit.
The Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship program provides female veterans and military spouses with educational resources for entrepreneurship and small business management.
Operated by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, and funded in part by the SBA, this primarily-female program teaches the skills necessary to open and operate a business. The regular registration fee is waived for qualified participants.
The three-phase program includes:
- A 15-day online learning experience
- A three-day training event offered in locations across the country
- Continued mentorship and support
Veteran Entrepreneurship Portal
This VA portal provides advice on starting and growing a business as well as entrepreneurial best practices. Veterans are offered information on how to source business funding, network with other veteran business owners, and work with federal agencies.
Office of Veterans Business Development Resources
This is an SBA extension that provides information about fundamental business resources. It includes help with grant opportunities and offers specific resources for veterans, their dependents, and survivors.
The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV)
Like V-WISE, EBV is offered by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. It focuses on social, economic, education, and policy issues affecting veterans and their families. The majority of EBV graduates go on to start their own businesses.
EBV coaches post-9/11 veterans using a comprehensive hands-on approach to teach entrepreneurial skills and small business management techniques. The service is available free of charge to veterans.
The Veterans Business Fund (VBF)
The Veterans Business Fund is a nonprofit organization. VBF provides non-interest-bearing loans to help entrepreneurs satisfy a bank’s equity requirements to qualify for a small business loan. The program is intended to help veteran business owners secure larger loans than they might be able to on their own. The fund offers favorable repayment terms.
Warrior Rising is a charitable organization dedicated to helping veteran entrepreneurs get their business started. It offers support, training, guidance, and mentorship. Warrior Rising was founded by a former Green Beret and its team is made up of veterans, dedicated to serving other veterans.
The nonprofit, Patriot Bootcamp, provides mentoring to would-be entrepreneurs and fosters a robust community of peers and business experts to help them build innovative and impactful businesses. The focus is on businesses that can lead “the new economy”.
Patriot Bootcamp offers workshops and educational programming focused on building technology companies. The program is open to active-duty servicemembers, veterans, and military spouses.
Transitioning to Civilian Life
There is an abundance of resources available to help active-duty military, veterans, and military families transition to civilian life. For those looking to build a business there are services and programs provided by private, government, and charitable institutions.
These initiatives are geared to helping veterans at every stage of business, from start-up and expansion to exit. They are designed to help translate their military experience into running profitable enterprises, regardless of their innate business acumen. These programs are available at low- or no-cost. Most are run by fellow veterans. And all are intended to repay veterans for their service.
The military community can also look to Victory Capital to help prepare for the transition from military to civilian life. Our Member First Commitment is built on a legacy of exceptional service. And we invite you to explore the tools and calculators we provide to help you plan for a secure financial future.
1Joseph Sobota, Office of Advocacy U.S. Small Business Administration, Veteran-Owned Businesses and Their Owners Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners, April 2017, Page 2