According to national survey data collected by the US Small Business Administration, there are about 2.5 million businesses owned by military veterans in the US. Veteran-owned businesses employ more than 5 million people; they are an integral part of the American workforce and the lifeforce of many communities across the country.
Many veteran business owners have taken advantage of the resources exclusively available to military service members to help their ventures find success. From business education programs to loans and financing, these are the business resources every veteran entrepreneur should know about.
Veteran Business Loans and Banking
It’s no secret that veterans often have the leadership and other qualities necessary to find success as a business owner. Veteran-owned ventures are arguably more successful than the average start-up.
However, every entrepreneur needs mentorship, funding, and support to get take their idea from concept to market. Check out these loan, grant, and banking resources exclusively available to small business merchants who have served (or in some cases, are actively serving) in the military.
- Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan: from the Small Business Administration, this loan helps small businesses meet operating expenses if an “essential employee” is called to active duty. The interest rate on these loans is 4%, with a loan amount limit of $2 million and max loan term of 30 years.
- Service-disabled Veteran-owned Small Business Program: another SBA program, apply for government contracts of up to $5 million if you own at least 51% of the business and have a service-connected disability.
- StreetShares Small Business Award: in partnership with JP Morgan Chase, online lender StreetShare is hosting a business competition to give away a total of $10,000 in three monthly awards to veterans, reserve or active-duty members who qualify, as well as military-spouse small merchants.
- SBA 7A Express Loan Program: this is a replacement of the popular Patriot Express Loan Program from the SBA, which granted up to $500,000 in as little as 36 hours. Now, the replacement 7A program gives veterans access to as much as $350,000 if approved.
- Hivers and Strivers: this angel investment fund provides support to start-ups founded and run by graduates of the U.S. Military Academies.
- UPS Franchise Opportunities: not ready to make the leap into being a full entrepreneur? Consider becoming a UPS franchise owner. This company offers discounted franchise fees to veterans. Cut your teeth on running a business with the support of a big corporation backing you up.
- Learn about applying for government grants with this comprehensive guide on Business Grants for Veterans.
Organizations for Veteran Women
There are many consulting opportunities available to women who are former military service members, as well as some organizations geared towards specifically helping veteran women. If you’re a woman-owned, veteran-owned business, you may be interested in some of these resources.
- Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE): this organization provides business education to women veterans and female military spouses or partners to turn an idea into a successful business venture.
- Resources for Women Veteran-Owned Businesses: check out this list of resources from Self Made to learn more about what women veterans can access.
- Women’s Business Centers: this network of more than 100 educational centers run by the SBA assists women who seek to start and grow their own business.
- Check out this index from the American Women Veterans Organization for everything from childcare to employment opportunities and education and training.
Business Mentoring, Guidance, and Advice
If you have a goal in mind and just need some guidance on how to achieve your next milestone, some of these training programs and mentorship opportunities much be just the thing you’re seeking. Check out the American Corporate Partners program for advice from Fortune 500 companies, or Patriot Boot Camp for developing your own tech startup.
- Veteran Business Outreach Centers: run by the Small Business Administration, these centers are geared toward providing assistance to transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses looking to start, purchase, or grow a business.
- Veteran Fast Launch Initiative: this initiative, run by the nonprofit association SCORE, offers free software, mentoring, and other support to military veteran entrepreneurs.
- Boots to Business: another SBA initiative, Boots to Business (B2B) is a two-part entrepreneurial training course with classroom elements and online modules to teach participants elements of early business ownership and forming a business plan.
- American Corporate Partners: we like this organization, which pairs companies like Allstate, GM, Coca-Cola, and IBM with US veterans for mentorship and career advice.
- Patriot Boot Camp: this program is an accelerator focused on assisting military veterans and their spouses to build technology companies.
- EBV Foundation: this foundation partners with the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans training program to help graduates develop business plans, find a mentor, and grow their business. They also host a business plan competition that may be right for your business idea.
- VetToCEO: this free online course prepares former military members to prepare for the challenges of owning and running a business.
- Clover’s blog has a ton of resources for getting started as a business owner, no matter what your background. Check out this comprehensive guide to launching a business and read our blog for more ideas!
Finally, it’s worthwhile to check out these FAQs from the US government about starting a business as a US veteran. For more guidance and tips on getting your business off the ground, follow Clover on Facebook and Twitter.
Clover is sold by leading U.S. banks including Bank of America, BBVA, Citi, PNC, SunTrust and Wells Fargo. You’ll also find Clover at our trusted partners including CardConnect, Restaurant Depot, and Sam’s Club. For more information, visit us at clover.com.