Serving in the military requires strength and resilience. Military veterans employ these traits. They act in service to a nation that owes them gratitude for their commitment. Veterans know they have grit and determination to start a small business. This small business will be a success. However, the only thing veterans may not know is how to start.
Fortunately, simple tips help veterans join the ranks of more than 3 million military veteran small business owners. Veterans receive a wide range of benefits and incentives. Here are a few resources that will help your small business succeed.
Veteran’s Business Outreach Center (VBOC)
The Veteran’s Business Outreach Center (VBOC) has locations across the United States. The VBOC helps get a jump start on your veteran-owned business. They provide training, mentoring, and counseling services.
This resource works with veterans to determine talents and expertise. Then, they help you decide on a business path to pursue. You will learn how to write a business plan. A business plan is the foundational brief that defines your business’s purpose.
Additionally, you will discover how your product or service may satisfy customer demand. Information about domestic and international trade, franchising opportunities and internet marketing is also available.
Boots to Business
What is Boots to Business? This program is offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). It is part of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for veterans interested in becoming entrepreneurs.
Boots to Business introduces veterans to necessary skills, knowledge, and resources. These are needed to launch a business. This includes steps for developing business concepts. You will learn how to create a business plan. Additionally, there is information available on SBA resources. This two-day program is facilitated by subject matter experts from the SBA. Additionally, the SBA’s network of business advisors provides advice.
The Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV)
The Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) is a program for the early stages of your business. This program helps veterans quickly gain traction. It takes a small business to the next level. It is a three-phase experience.
EBV helps you learn more about financing, management, marketing, and strategic planning. It includes a workshop led by top entrepreneurs. EBV partners with some of the leading university business schools in the nation. Doing this helps veterans gain real-world entrepreneurial experience. Veterans may immediately apply that to a small business.
Funding Programs Help Veterans March Forward
Getting the financial resources you need is essential to your small business success. Additionally, you may also qualify for these funding opportunities designed specifically for veterans.
Small Business Veterans Advantage
The Small Business Veterans Advantage is available through the SBA. This funding resource is for U.S. veterans, reservists, and National Guard members. Active-duty military members participating in the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) qualify. Spouses may also qualify for eligibility.
This program provides funding for business startup expenses. Loans are available up to $5 million for applicants that qualify. In addition, discounts are also available on loan fees.
Hivers and Strivers
Hivers and Strivers is an investment group. They provide funding for startup companies created by U.S. military academy graduates.
Investing in a wide variety of business industries, Hivers and Strivers offers loans up to $1 million for qualifying applicants. What else do they offer outside of loans? This organization provides expert advice during the startup process. In addition, Hivers and Strivers continues to offer guidance. This goes throughout the lifespan of your company.
The Streetshares Foundation
If you are a U.S. veteran or spouse of a vet, you may qualify for business funding from The Streetshares Foundation.
Each month, the Streetshares Foundation provides grants. These grants go towards companies with a positive social impact in their communities. Eligibility is also based on the strength of their business ideas. In addition, veterans may benefit from short- and long-term loans. These are specifically designed for veterans and the needs of small businesses.
The Benefits of a Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) Certification
The U.S. government awards nearly $20 million a year to companies. These companies must be designated as veteran-owned small businesses. Do you have a company that does business with the U.S. government? Do you work with companies that do? A VOSB certification may provide you with leverage during the contract bidding process. Therefore, the federal government is required by law to award a percentage of projects to VOSBs.
Who is eligible? You must be a veteran who owns 51 percent of the business. In addition, you must control the day-to-day aspects of your business. You should also be the highest-ranking officer in your company. If you qualify, certification may be issued by the SBA or the Veterans Administration (VA). Services including the Federal Award Management Registration may help guide you through the process.
Online Marketing Supports Your Mission
Once you form your company, you’ll want to create an online presence to build brand awareness in the competitive marketplace. Start by securing a domain name and developing a website. Your site will serve as the hub of your business, giving your customers a way to learn more about your products and services anytime, anywhere.
A professional business email address gives you instant credibility and makes it easy to interact with your customers and vendors. Plus, with over 90 percent of customers searching online to find local businesses, search engine optimization (SEO) content on your website makes it easier for customers to find you when they search online directories like Google, Yelp and Bing.
Finally, as we’ve all seen during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, having an eCommerce page on your website is critical to generating revenue even when your store is not open.
Starting a new business is always a challenge. But by leaning on the resources available to you as a military veteran, you’ll be well-positioned to establish your small business and achieve lasting success.
Zach Tidwell is a marketing content editor for Web.com Group. They are a leading web technology company that service millions of customers around the world. Through a portfolio of brands – Web.com, Network Solutions and Register.com – Web.com Group helps customers of all sizes build an online presence that delivers results. Connect with Zach on LinkedIn.