Veterans, we salute you! We thank you for your bravery, selflessness, and dedication to preserving our way of life in the U.S. As a veteran, you have earned the right to receive certain benefits from the government. For example, our government gives you access to a multitude of resources for veterans who own a business or want to start a business for themselves.
ZenBusiness can help you grow your business as well. We offer services designed to help veteran entrepreneurs like you take advantage of the resources you have earned so that you can get your business up and running or help you grow your existing business. Our mission is to help you achieve your goals as easily and efficiently as possible while relieving you of some of the stress small business owners endure.
Available Business Resources for Veterans
Armed Forces veterans learned many skills during their time in service. Many of these translate well to the small business environment. However, cultivating skills such as leadership, self-discipline, self-motivation, and responsibility in a branch of the military doesn’t necessarily mean a veteran will know how to use those skills to grow a small business. Fortunately, there are many programs and services available to help veteran entrepreneurs.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), through its Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD), along with other governmental agencies, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and private organizations offer a multitude of programs to help veterans. Programs are available to veterans who want to:
- Start their business;
- Improve their business;
- Obtain a business loan;
- Obtain other business funding like grants; and
- Bid for U.S. government contracts.
These resources are readily available for veterans who are small business owners. If you need help with your small business, ZenBusiness will also be there for you to lend a hand when you need it.
How to Register as a Veteran-Owned Business
Understanding how to register your business as a veteran-owned business is the first step toward taking advantage of the programs available to you as a U.S. veteran. Essentially, a veteran-owned business is one in which a veteran owns at least 51% of the company. Proving you’re a veteran is easy. All you need to do is have a copy of your DD214.
The OVBD helps veterans connect with SBA programs that can help them become entrepreneurs after separating from the military. Through the SBA, the OVBD can help:
- Service-disabled veterans,
- Active-duty members, and
- Transitioning service members.
The OVBD also offers assistance to spouses, dependents, and surviving family members. Furthermore, your business might qualify for benefits through the Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU). The OSDBU will work with you to verify that you’re eligible for government contracts.
Financial Resources Available to Veteran-Entrepreneurs
Grants are widely available through many government agencies as well as private organizations. As a veteran-entrepreneur, you could be eligible for a number of grants for your veteran-owned business. The process of applying for grants while trying to open and run your business may be overwhelming. A partner like ZenBusiness can help you with many of the startup tasks required to launch a successful business.
Consider business grants to fund and expand your company
“It takes money to make money,” is an adage that continues to resonate with entrepreneurs. When you think about running your business, you probably think mostly about the product or service you would offer and how to best deliver it to your customers. But when you’re finally ready to start your business, you’ll soon realize that you need money just to get started.
Initial funding for your business could come in the form of a loan, venture capital, or personal savings. A fourth option — grants — can help you fund your start-up and operational costs while you grow your business.
Grants are a valuable resource for all small business entrepreneurs. Grants offered by the government could be the lifeboat you need in raging waters during times of economic trouble.
Grants Available to Veteran-Entrepreneurs
Many grants are available to veteran entrepreneurs. But the organizations that provide grant assistance don’t simply give you money to run your business. Instead, you must apply for funding. Grant applications, along with other funding options, require detailed business plans. You need to make sure you have a solid business plan in place before applying for any funding.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the funding programs available to veterans and their families.
The StreetShares Foundation is a nonprofit organization that offers grants to veterans through their Veteran Small Business Award. This grant allows veterans to start businesses that flourish in their communities. Additionally, StreetShares offers veterans educational opportunities, mentoring programs, coaching, and networking opportunities.
Combat veterans with an entrepreneurial spirit instituted this foundation to help other combat veterans return to civilian life and start a business for themselves. Warrior Rising offers start-up grants along with access to other sources of funding. Warrior Rising offers leads to other funding sources as well.
The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (MREIDL)
MREIDL is one of the loan programs available to companies who employ a reservist when the reservist receives an activation order. The SBA operates this loan program. MREIDL funds may be used to pay utilities, payroll, and other operating expenses if you’re called up. Reservists aren’t eligible to use MREIDL financing to replace lost income.
SBA Veterans Advantage 7(a) Loan
Veterans Advantage 7(a) loans assist veteran-owned small businesses in obtaining start-up capital and capital for expansion. The SBA acts as a lending partner for you and the lending institution. The SBA helps reduce the risk for the lending institution by guaranteeing your loan up to a set amount depending on the amount you financed.
You can use a 7(a) loan for a variety of reasons such as refinancing, equipment purchases, constructing or renovating a building, and purchasing real estate. The repayment terms favor the borrower, as does the interest rate.
Veteran Entrepreneur Portal (VEP)
The VA operates the VEP. The VA designed the VEP to act as a repository for veteran-entrepreneurs and job-seekers. The VEP doesn’t offer a grant or loan program. Instead, the VEP connects veterans to a wealth of resources to help them spring from military service members to civilian business people.
Veteran Readiness and Employment Program for Disabled Vets
The VA offered this program previously as the VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. Some may refer to this program as Chapter 31 as well. Veterans with service-related disabilities need to obtain a disability rating before applying for access to this program.
Veterans with service-connected disabilities can learn how to regain employment with a previous employer, seek help with job placement, and get help with starting a business from scratch.
Veterans Business Fund
The Veterans Business Fund (VBF) operates as a non-profit organization whose purpose is to connect veteran entrepreneurs with loans. The VBF will issue loans to small businesses that have zero or negative equity and can’t obtain financing through traditional lenders.
The VBF is in the fundraising phase right now and isn’t accepting applications. Despite that, veterans might consider checking with veteransbusinessfund.org for more information.
Hivers and Strivers
Hivers and Strivers is an angel investment group. The fund offers investment capital to military veterans. In many cases, their clients are graduates of the service academies. Service members founded the group and offer their guidance and expertise to young veterans with an entrepreneurial spirit. They strive to reach deals that benefit the company they fund and the investors who participate in the funding.
American Corporate Partners
American Corporate Partners (ACP) assists veterans to find their next career. ACP operates on the premise that most service members entering the civilian workforce are underemployed rather than unemployed. ACP guides veterans and their spouses to find suitable employment that turns into lifelong careers.
Veteran-entrepreneurs have access to government contracts
Government contracts are an excellent source of income for veteran entrepreneurs. The steady stream of income generated by government contracts frees business owners up to expand their customer base.
One of the most popular initiatives for veterans who want to do business with the U.S. government is known as PL 109-461, or the Vets First Contracting Program. The VA Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) operates this program. The Vets First program allows veterans to bid for VA contracts. Veterans and service-disabled veterans can apply. Veterans must obtain verification of eligibility to bid for VA contracts.
VETBiz is a service run by the VA that grants access to veterans to learn about procurement opportunities. Vetbiz also assists veterans with training, communication, and IT upgrades. Additionally, Vetbiz helps veterans obtain verification to conduct business with the VA.
Training Programs Dedicated to Helping You Achieve Your Goals
Veterans can look to many of the resources referenced to find training programs. However, there are a couple of programs that we should highlight. The first is the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship program (V-Wise). V-Wise is a program designed to help women reach their full potential in the business world. V-Wise focuses on helping women develop entrepreneurial skills and business acumen. Female veterans and female spouses of veterans are encouraged to participate.
Additional Resources for Veteran Business Owners
You can obtain additional assistance by contacting your local Veteran Business Outreach Centers (VBOC). VBOC offices may be found throughout the country. You can find your nearest location at sba.gov.
BUSA.org is another valuable resource. This website provides links to numerous resources that will guide the small business owner to obtain grants, financial assistance, and business loans.
Where can you turn for help starting your business?
ZenBusiness can help veterans and their families start, run, and grow their businesses. With services like Worry Free Compliance service, registered agent service, domain name registration, Employer Identification Number (EIN) filing, and other services, ZenBusiness will focus on the details so you can think big and take your veteran-owned business to the next level.
The content on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional in your state.
What qualifies as a veteran-owned business?
Qualifying as a veteran-owned business is simple. An eligible veteran must have at least a 51% ownership stake in the business to qualify. You’ll need a copy of your DD214 to prove that you’re a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Can the VA help me start a business?
The VA has a tremendous resource called the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal (VEP). The VEP can help you on your mission to start a business, locate financing, and grow your business, among other things. The VEP can also connect you to information on how you can contract with the VA and other government agencies.
How do I qualify for a VA business loan?
The VA doesn’t offer loans. Instead, veterans need to contact the SBA. The SBA runs a program called “Veterans Advantage.” A branch of the SBA, called the Small Business Development Center, will guide veterans through the application process. Additionally, the SBA offers resources called 7(a) loans. These loans provide financing for small businesses as well.
Are there resources available for disabled veterans who own a business?
There are many resources available for a disabled veteran who owns a business. You could apply for any of the benefits available to veterans. Additionally, the VA runs a program through many colleges and universities across the country called Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities. Also, the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program facilitates government contracts. The federal government set a goal to have 3% of its contacts serviced by service-disabled veteran business owners.
Can spouses of veterans get resources for starting a business?
Yes, most programs are open to spouses of veterans who own a business. Specifically, the SBA opened their Veterans Advantage 7(a) loan program to current spouses of veterans as well as widowed spouses of a military member who died while in service or as a result of a disability connected to their military service.
Other training programs available to veterans include:
Boots to Business
Vet to CEO
Veterans Business Resource Center
Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans
Veterans and their families can contact the SBA for training and education opportunities as well