Three Opportunities for Veterans Eager To Start, Run or Grow a Small Business

For those actively serving, returning home from duty or looking to leverage skills gained as veterans from different service eras, we’d like to thank you for your service—and help you on your tour of duty in the private sector. 

You’re likely already familiar with the 100,000 Jobs Mission, a military-private sector initiative to place veterans and military personnel into full-time employment. In addition, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act offers tax credits for employers that hire unemployed and service-disabled veterans. So finding a job in corporate America is, hopefully, becoming less difficult for former military personnel.

But what if you have that insatiable itch to strike out on your own? If you’re a burgeoning entrepreneur, check out these three opportunities unique to veterans, all designed to help you start your new business or grow its operations.

1. SBA loans guaranteed by the VA

Before you can open shop, you’ll need financing to get your business running. Even if you’ve saved a considerable amount, keeping those funds as a cash reserve and securing financing to start your business may be a wise option.

Through the SBAExpress and Patriot Express programs, you can secure loans at lower interest rates than offered by most banks and credit unions. In some instances, you will even receive a response to your application within 36 hours.

The Patriot Express program is available to all veterans, active-duty service members eligible for the Transition Assistance Program, reservists, National Guard members. . . and even current spouses. It can help with financing startup or expansion costs.

2. Preferred contracting with the government

Previous employers can be your best customers. They already know your talents and appreciate your knowledge of their operations. Be sure to check out your local Procurement Technical Assistance Center for more information on how to effectively compete for government contracts. Many PTACs offer access to special veterans’ services.

To explore contracting opportunities available through the Veterans Administration (VA), visit the VA Forecast of Contracting Opportunities Website.

Even better than working for your old boss, you can obtain seed money from Uncle Sam. The Department of Labor may be able to help through its VETS’ Guide to Competitive and Discretionary Grants (PDF). Although this guide clocks in at nearly 150 pages, as your drill instructor might have said, “No pain, no gain.”

3. Exclusive franchising discounts

Many entrepreneurs choose franchises for the brand stability and support for the day-to-day and administrative operations offered by the larger organization.

VetFran has located more than 400 International Franchise Association (IFA) franchisors offering discounts, trainings and more to veterans who want start their own franchises. For example, 7-Eleven cuts 10 percent off its franchise fee for honorably discharged veterans, in addition to providing up to 65 percent of the financing for startup.

According to VetFran’s statistics, over 2,100 veterans have used this service to become franchisees.

With these programs and your unique talents obtained during your military tenure, you can make your mark as a battle leader-turned-business leader.

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