Veteran business owners play a significant role in the US economy. In 2016, the US Census Bureau reported that veterans own a whopping 7.5% of small businesses in the US – that’s 405,235 businesses out of 5.4 million nationwide! The best part is that not only do these brave entrepreneurs have an incredible drive to pursue their dreams, but there are also dozens of local, state and federal programs to help them do it.
Here is a list of small business loans, grants, training programs and other important resources for budding veteran entrepreneurs:
OVBD is the Small Business Administration’s liaison with the veteran community. Together, they offer extensive programming for veteran small business owners and their dependents, including access to free training, counseling, mentorship and help with federal small business grants and other financial tools. Through the OVBD and other partnerships, the SBA helps more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans and their families each year.
A nonprofit resource partner of the SBA that offers free mentorship and counseling for entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners. There are over 10,000 SCORE mentors and 300 chapters nationwide. Plus the organization offers free virtual mentoring and online workshops, all of which can be accessed via their website.
This free, two-part SBA training program teaches veterans and military spouses about starting their own business. It includes a two-day training course that is available at more than 165 military bases worldwide and an eight-week online training program that teaches participants how to develop a business plan and other tips for starting a small business.
All aspiring and current veteran business owners should take a look at this innovative startup incubator. Created by veterans to help other veterans, Bunker Labs offers different programs for every stage of business development, including securing capital, market analysis and ongoing support for existing business owners.
Don’t forget to apply for a veteran-owned small business certification through the Department of Veteran Affairs. You’ll need it to qualify for federal contracts!
V-WISE is an SBA-backed program offered through the Institute for Veterans Military Families. V-WISE offers a three-phase program that teaches female veterans and female military spouses the skills necessary to start a small business. The program includes a 15-day online training class, a 3-day entrepreneurship training course and the ongoing support of mentors and training opportunities to ensure success.
The SBA’s VFPETP program distributes up to $2 million annually to veterans and service-disabled veterans seeking procurement and entrepreneurial training.
Military service personnel and their spouses can use this government search engine to find active grant opportunities. Some of them apply to small business development, while other may be related to continuing education, home construction and research programs.
Looking for a financial backer? StreetShares may be able to help. This unique veteran-owned platform puts veteran business owners in touch with investors interested in backing businesses that will offer social and financial returns. StreetShares offers three convenient financing options, making it easy for entrepreneurs to find the right fit for their new business.
Similar to SCORE, Hiring Our Heroes is a Chamber of Commerce Foundation initiative that seeks to connect veterans and military spouses with free mentoring. The program is more geared towards helping veterans find gainful employment, but its mentor program features hundreds of entrepreneurs ready to give advice on starting a small business.
Use VEP to find federal, state and local resources for starting and growing a successful veteran-owned small business. VEP is a great resource for learning about financing opportunities, training programs and government grants and incentives.
This venture capital fund was created specifically to help entrepreneurial vets on the East Coast start and develop high-growth businesses. The fund invests up to $3 million in new companies, and has already invested in nine high-growth business opportunities.
Individuals that have graduated from West Point, Coast Guard or another military academy and are in the early stages of starting a business may be eligible for funding from Hivers and Strivers, an angel investment firm. Hivers and Strivers invests between $250,000 and $1 million per round, and will connect business owners seeking more than $1 million with other investment opportunities.
This free 8-week startup incubator is dedicated to helping veterans develop small businesses. After 8 weeks of training classes and learning from guest speakers, participants have a chance to pitch their business plan to nonprofits, investors and local business leaders.