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Veteran Benefits: Want to Start a Business? The SBA is Here to Help

Why Start a Business?

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are more than 1.9 million veteran-owned businesses (VOB) in the United States, employing over 5 million people with total sales topping $1.3 trillion. Many service members find themselves at a crossroads once they complete their tour of service about what they will do next. The VA and SBA have partnered up in recent years to provide vital information for those interested in starting their own business. Through free seminars, online training, and the Boots to Business class that tours the United States all year round, many programs are available free of charge. These programs and courses are also available to military spouses who want to start a business, providing the family flexibility to earn extra income in a less-than-stable lifestyle.

Where and When Do I Start?

If you have wanted to start your own business either now or in the future, the best place to start is by referring to the SBA business guide (see footnote). It provides some simple planning tools to get you started on researching business ideas, planning, launching, managing, and growing your business. As a veteran or military spouse, many resources are available to you, including specific loan programs and expert advice from veteran business outreach centers (VBOCs) that can provide workshops, mentorship, and training to eligible service members (see footnote). The question of when is up to you. Do you have an idea that has been nagging you for years and you want to explore? Maybe you already have a side hobby that you want to expand into a real business. Anytime is the right time to reach out and think about starting a business if it can provide you with some personal satisfaction and create a better situation for you and your family.

What about starting a non-profit?

The SBA can help you with that, too. Remember working with contractors and civilians in your office during your time in service? You can start a contracting company, too, and the SBA has resources to determine eligibility and get you started with the process. How about franchising opportunities? There are thousands of franchise businesses in the United States, and many of them have separate opportunities that they reserve for veterans who might not have the initial capital to invest in a franchise outright. This can give you a turnkey business with a proven success model to begin your journey rather than starting from the ground up.

Why Are Veterans Successful Business Owners?

At a young age, we have been conditioned with structure, discipline, organization, and an innate ability to get things done. Whether it be through ingenuity or sheer force, we know that the mission can’t fail because we are part of something bigger than ourselves. It doesn’t matter if you are delivering beans and bullets, cooking meals for the warfighter, or a door kicker. We all serve a purpose to keep the immense war machine turning to protect against enemies, foreign and domestic. The military also provides you with leadership, supervision, and mentor training at many stages in your career. Many large companies pay millions every year to send their employees to similar training, and we receive much of it for free. If you have taken advantage of tuition assistance or used your GI Bill to further your education, then you are achieving something that isn’t available to the average American without incurring large amounts of debt. Raising your hand and swearing an oath to defend is something only around 20% of the population is eligible for service, and around 1% join. We choose to serve for different reasons, but we provide an essential service to our nation and its people.

Why Should I Use These Resources?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years, 45% during the first five years, and 65% during the first 10 years. Many initial business owners don’t have any formal training or education; some take over family businesses passed down to them and must learn on the fly about just how difficult it can be. The VA and SBA realize the potential success of more veterans taking control of their future by starting businesses while either still active or retired. More jobs add much-needed growth to the economy and thus add to your service to the nation and the people you once served in uniform. These programs are another example of providing resources to those who sacrificed their time away from loved ones and, in many cases, their health. Service members could have spent that time creating opportunities for themselves and making a living that more than likely would have been more profitable to them than what they were paid while in service. Simply put, this is a way that the government can give back to veterans and veteran spouses who have sacrificed so much for the nation.

Conclusion: The Vital Role of Veteran Business Owners

Veterans' unique blend of discipline, leadership, and resilience cultivated through military service are indispensable assets in the entrepreneurial landscape. Their ability to navigate challenges, coupled with a steadfast commitment to excellence, not only drives business success but also enriches the fabric of our society. By harnessing their skills and experiences, we empower veterans to realize their entrepreneurial aspirations and tap into a wellspring of innovation and economic growth. Moreover, supporting veteran-owned businesses is not only a strategic investment in our economy but also a moral imperative. These individuals have selflessly served their country, often at great personal sacrifice, and enabling their success in the business world is a tangible way to honor their service. Furthermore, veteran-owned businesses play a pivotal role in fostering community cohesion and creating employment opportunities, particularly for fellow veterans. By providing the necessary resources and support, we not only strengthen our economy but also uphold the values of loyalty, duty, and service that define the military ethos. In essence, by championing veteran entrepreneurship, we ensure that their contributions continue to shape and enrich our nation for generations to come.


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