In the United States, nearly four million small businesses are owned by military veterans. The success rate of these start-ups is high in comparison to other business start-ups. If you're a veteran, or close to retirement, or entering the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), you might want to think about opening a small business. The information in this article will help you learn more about how the Small Business Administration (SBA) can help you become an entrepreneur.
SBA resources and assistance for veterans
Start by going to the SBA website for information. Many SBA programs have information specific to military veterans, including the following:
- The SBA's Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) - This office coordinates outreach to veterans and policy recommendations for SBA assistance.
- Guard and Reserve small business guides - These guides describe the resources available from the SBA to help veterans restarting a business after returning from active duty or preparing a business before mobilization. Visit the SBA Veterans and Military Families website for links.
- Planning assistance - Through local district offices and the SBA's resource partners, you can receive business planning, counseling, and training to help your business prepare for a call to active duty. After you or your employees return, the SBA can help with marketing and other plans to re-establish and grow your business.
- SCORE - Working and retired executives and business owners donate their time and expertise as business counselors in the SCORE program. You can get advice from counselors by means of the Internet at any time, and you can also get one-on-one help from a counselor near you. Local counselors know the market, as well as local rules and regulations, and they also offer workshops on current topics. SCORE also offers free how-to articles, business tools, and electronic newsletters to help you in your venture.
- Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) - Aspiring entrepreneurs and current small business owners can go to their local SBDCs for free face-to-face business consulting and at-cost training on subjects such as writing business plans, accessing capital, marketing, regulatory compliance, and international trade. There are nearly 1,000 service centers and many additional outreach offices in the SBDC network throughout the United States. Find out more on the SBDC site.
- Veterans' Business Development Officers - Veterans' business development officers are available in each district office in every state to help you understand and use the SBA's programs and services. To find an office, visit the SBA's Our Offices page.
- Veterans' Business Outreach Program (VBOP) - The VBOP provides business training, counseling and mentoring, referrals, and technical assistance to eligible veterans. Find out more at the Office of Veterans Business Development.
- Women's Business Centers (WBCs) - The SBA also partially funds WBCs across the United States. These centers were established to help women become full partners in economic development through small business ownership. In addition, SBA representatives for women's issues and programs are available in every SBA district office across the country.
- Online training - The SBA's E-Business Institute is a customer-focused online training environment designed to enrich, educate, and enable small businesses. The virtual campus offers online courses, workshops, information resources, learning tools, and direct access to electronic counseling and other forms of technical assistance.
Small businesses may need financing because the owner or key employees have been called to active duty. In addition, returning veterans may need financing to expand an existing business or start a new one. The SBA's loan programs can help provide financing for veterans with small businesses that may not be available through other channels.
- Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative - The SBA's Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative was designed for veterans and other members of the military community who want to establish or expand small businesses..
- Military Reservist Economic Injury Loans - For eligible small businesses facing financial needs because an owner or an essential employee was called to active duty, the SBA can offer loans tailored to those needs. Small businesses may apply for the loan after the key employee receives his orders to report for active duty. Find out more at the Military Reservist Economic Injury Loans site.
- Community Express - Veterans interested in conventional SBA financing for business start-up or expansion are targeted under SBA's Community Express program. This program provides streamlined and expedited loans and includes management and technical assistance.
- Debt relief - If your small business now has an SBA direct or guaranteed loan, you can ask for repayment deferrals, interest-rate reduction, and other assistance. See the SBA's Veterans and Military Families page for more information.
Firms participating in government contracting 8(a)/Small and Disadvantaged Business
If a call to duty requires that the day-to-day management of a company be transferred to a person other than the one to whom the original certification was granted, the transfer will not disqualify the firm from program participation. Visit the SBA's 8abd site to find out more.
Small Business Innovations Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)
If a call to duty means that a firm can't complete a grant's objectives within the original timeline, that timeline can be extended. See the Small Business Innovations Research site for more information.
Individuals who are employed by HUBZone firms and called to military service will continue to be counted as employees when calculating the 35 percent HUBZone residency requirement or determining the firm's principal office - assuming they continue to be employed by the firm.