After their service to the country has ended, many veterans take up service to their local economies. According to NerdWallet, veterans own more than 7 percent of the nation’s businesses. Those businesses range from local breweries to burgeoning technology start-ups – and just like the men and women who serve in the armed forces, veterans’ small businesses deserve the support of the American people.
Fortunately, support is out there. From financing to education, helpful resources exist to give veterans an edge in the competitive, increasingly homogenized national economy. These resources come from the federal Small Business Administration, patriotic nonprofits and other like-minded organizations. Like the various branches of service, all of these resources serve a single mission: to support veterans who make the American economy vibrant and resilient.
Perhaps the riskiest part of launching a small business is putting your hard-earned (and borrowed) money on the line. For veterans, financing a small business can be relatively affordable, thanks to these valuable resources:
- Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan: Offered through the Small Business Administration, these loans encourage small businesses to employ military reservists. If an employee is called up to active duty, the small business can secure a loan of up to $2 million to cover operating expenses that otherwise could not be met during the employee’s absence.
- Lender Match: Available to all small business owners, Lender Match connects entrepreneurs with Small Business Administration-approved lenders. The free, online tool asks users to enter some basic information about themselves and their business, then sends information about complementary lenders.
- Veteran Entrepreneur Portal: The Veteran Entrepreneur Portal comes from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. The portal is a central place where veteran small business owners can stay up-to-date on the financing resources that are available to them from various agencies, including the Small Business Administration.
No matter what industry you’re jumping into, making the transition to civilian life can be difficult. These educational programs help veterans learn how to become entrepreneurs and connect veterans with the agencies they can rely on as they enter the civilian world.
- Getting Veterans Back to Business: The Small Business Administration offers a free small business resource guide for veterans online. The guide covers need-to-know topics like business planning and financial organization. Plus, a handy checklist keeps veteran business owners on track to success.
- Boots to Business: This Small Business Administration program can guide veterans before they even leave the service. The Boots to Business course provides entrepreneurship lessons in-person at various military bases or online.
- Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship: Also known as V-WISE, this program caters specifically to female veterans and military spouses. The training includes an in-person component and an online module with opportunities for future mentorship and guidance.
Veteran-owned small businesses help to build what many have called the backbone of the American economy. It’s the small and locally owned businesses on Main Streets across the country that keep the U.S. economy strong and protected on the home front. With these resources, veterans can continue their service to the country in a different, but still valuable, way.