The federal government and non-government organizations provide all sorts of information to help Veterans start and grow businesses. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans are 45% more likely than their civilian counterparts to become successful entrepreneurs.
If you want to start a business, but don’t know where to begin, the SBA’s Business Plan Resources is a great place to start. It walks you through how to set up an organizational and management structure, develop marketing and sales plans, and provides information on how to request funding and create financial projections. SBA also offers information specifically tailored to veterans such as growing a business, mentoring and training and selling to the government.
Veteran Business Outreach Centers
SBA Veteran’s Business Outreach Centers: VBOCs provide veterans with entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and mentoring. The Veterans Business Outreach Program (VBOP) is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and mentoring, and referrals for eligible veterans owning or considering starting a small business. The SBA has 15 organizations participating in this cooperative agreement and serving as Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC).
Boots to Business
Boots to Business, an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by the SBA as part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP), is offered at 165 military installations around the world. The program offers curriculum to help entrepreneurs understand the steps to use when evaluating business concepts, how to access start-up capital and additional technical assistance.
Veteran Fast Launch
The Wal-Mart Foundation sponsors the Veteran Fast Launch Initiative. It provides: SCORE’s mentoring program, where Veteran Fast Launch participants are assigned, a highly experienced mentor to guide them every step of the way. Services such as computer software and business services are free or significantly discounted. Organizations such as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants also support this initiative.
Veteran Entrepreneur Portal
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a Veteran Entrepreneur Portal that provides information on starting a business. The portal includes an online tool that guides you through a series of questions and ultimately provides information that’s tailored to your needs. The tool will provide you with specific information on how to conduct market research, what business licenses and permits you may need to secure, guidance on how to build a business plan, articles, and finally a link to find business counselors that work nearby.
Each federal agency sets participation goals for small businesses in procurement contracts. Regulations require Federal purchases over $3,000, but less than $150,000 to automatically reserve, or set-aside, a portion of the contract dollars for small businesses. There are exceptions–full details are available on the SBA website. These contract set-asides allow government agencies to easily procure products and services from certified veteran-owned businesses. To become certified, a veteran-owned business must submit an online application to the VA Center for Evaluation and Certification (CVE). Once certified, the veteran-owned business is qualified to compete for work and limit competition to only veteran-owned businesses.
GSA’s outreach efforts are demonstrated through a “21-Gun Salute” strategy, an action plan to help the agency meet and exceed procurement goals for SDVOSBs. Other Federal opportunities for veteran-owned businesses can be found on one of the government’s largest databases for procurement opportunities, Fedbizops.
Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE)
Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) provides tools, courses and ongoing mentorship to women who are already in business, and a start-up track for potential entrepreneurs.
Syracuse University offers the VetNet Entrepreneur Track, +Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), the first national center in higher education focused on the social, economic, education, and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service.
The SBA is an independent federal agency that works to assist and protect the interests of American small businesses. The agency delivers the answers, support and resources small businesses need to start-up, grow and succeed through district offices throughout the U.S. and a network of resource partners including SCORE.