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Government and Private Sector Programs Provide Tools for Veteran-Owned Businesses

November 11, 2014 is Veterans Day. Although this day is set aside to pay special tribute to those men and women who have served in our armed forces, our economy owes a large debt to veterans day-in and day-out. This is especially true in the small business sector.

According to the Small Business Administration, veteran owned businesses

  • Are responsible for nearly one out of every ten small businesses in America
  • Employ nearly six million workers
  • Generate over 1.5 trillion dollars in receipts each year
  • Are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans

In recognition of the value vets bring to the business world, the SBA offers a variety of programs to ease the transition from military service to entrepreneurship by providing training in the skills required to run a successful small business. Boots to Business is an SBA-sponsored program that is offered on military bases throughout the world. The three-stage program is free of charge teaches participants how to identify a solid business opportunity, develop the business plan, obtain the necessary financing and other resources and launch the business.

In addition, to address the persistently high-employment rate among veterans, the SBA has developed Boots to Business: Reboot. Unlike the Boots to Business program which is geared to active service personnel who are about to transition to civilian life, Reboot is designed for all honorably discharged veterans and their dependents. While the programs have concluded for 2014, it is anticipated that additional sessions will be held next year.

Nearly two million women are veterans, and women account for 15 percent of active military personnel. Women veterans can take advantage of an innovative program designed to empower and equip them to launch their own business. Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) is a joint program between the SBA and the University of Syracuse that provides online and face-to-face training in all aspects of business.

Government programs are not the only resources available to veterans. Venture capitalists are starting to recognize that the skills and personal characteristics that lead to success in military service translate into success in business ventures.  For example, Hivers and Strivers, are angel investors that focus solely on early-stage financing of start-ups founded by graduates from the five United States Military Academies.  According to their website, single round financing generally ranges from $250,000 to $1,000,000, but when larger funding amounts are warranted, the group will actively seek syndication opportunities from other investors. The growing availability of venture financing positions vets to move beyond a small local business.

Finally, all veterans—whether they seek to start a local business, the next game-changing technology company or purchase a franchise—can find resources and support from the National Veteran-Owned Business Association.  By taking advantage of a variety of resources, veterans can use their skills and training to start and grow a successful business. 

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