As small-business owners, veterans are an important part of the U.S. economy. Veteran-owned small businesses employ more than 5.5 million people and pay about $221 billion in annual compensation, according to 2012 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Still, all startups and new businesses need assistance at some point, and that’s where small-business loans, grants and other financing resources for veterans come into play.
If you’re a veteran hoping to get your small business off the ground, start with the Veterans Business Outreach Center Program. VBOCs provide business training, counseling and mentoring at 15 locations throughout the country. You can also contact Score, a nonprofit association of volunteer business counselors who offer free business workshops and in-person appointments.
Financing advice and training are highly beneficial for vets-turned-entrepreneurs.
“If they know of somebody who has transitioned out of the military ahead of them and who went through the experience of starting their business and getting financing, that information can be invaluable and help steer these young men and women in the right direction,” says Jim Salmon, vice president of business services at Navy Federal Credit Union and a Navy veteran himself.
To help you start and grow your business, we rounded up the best small-business loans for veterans. And below, we’ve compiled great small-business grants and other resources for veterans.
Institute for Veterans and Military Families: This institute at Syracuse University provides education and training programs for business-minded veterans, including the Small Business Administration’s Operation Boots to Business program, the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans With Disabilities (EBV) and the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship program.
“We’ve put about 39,000 people through [our programs],” says James Schmeling, co-founder and managing director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at the university. “Part of what we do is educate them on access to capital, financing their business or bootstrapping a business.”
Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan: These SBA loans help small businesses meet “ordinary and necessary” operating expenses if an essential employee is called to active duty.