As service members complete their militarycareers and transition back into civilian life, many may initially struggle toadjust to life in the private sector. However, the rigor, discipline, andpractical skills obtained in the armed forces can actually translate perfectlyto the business world. In fact, many veterans find a new fulfilling vocation assmall business or franchise owners in their local communities. With increasedopportunities and incentives to step into franchise ownership, many veteransare taking to the challenge.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)reports that 2.5 million, or 9.1% of U.S. businesses are owned by veterans —and these businesses employ a full 5.03 million people. Clearly, thesestartups, franchises, and small businesses stimulate their local economies andoften become major players within their respective industries. Some of theseventures may encompass military-adjacent businesses like security systems,sales of firearms and outdoor equipment, or emergency preparation. Otheropportunities, like owning a top commercial cleaning franchise, leverages someof the same skills honed from the individual’s time in the service.
A handful of programs specifically assist veterans and activeservice members in all aspects of entrepreneurship. These resources provide awelcome kickstart for many veteran business aspirations and franchiseinvestments. Suddenly, that vague entrepreneurial notion becomes a concreteundertaking as the right financial direction sets the project in motion. Let’snow take a look at a few of the top business-building programs and services forveterans.
Veteran Entrepreneur Portal
An exceptional resource from the U.S.Department of Veterans Affairs is the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal. The portal partnerswith Business USA to disseminate a range of tools and information veterans canuse during the early phases of establishing their business. Veterans receiveeducational material and advice under headings like Start a Business, Grow YourBusiness, Find Opportunities, Access Financing, and Resources for Veterans.
Operation Boots to Business
Offered through SBA, the Boots to Businessprogram offers entrepreneurial training for veterans that covers thoseessential business fundamentals like how to develop a business plan, where tolook for capital, and more. These lessons equip future business owners with theintel required to get started — clarifying the right steps and considerationsto set them up for success.
Hivers and Strivers
Hivers and Strivers is an angel investmentgroup aimed squarely at young veterans, including U.S. Military Academygraduates looking to launch their own startups. Hivers and Strivers frequentlyinvests between $250,000 to $1 million in promising ventures, also calling onother groups within their network to provide needed capital.
SBA Express Loan
The Express Loan program helps smallbusinesses through loan opportunities of up to $350,000. The program is inplace to assist any aspiring entrepreneur, but also provides a special offerfor former military personnel — one that allows for a low-interest loan with noupfront fees. This serves as a great option for new business owners looking forconvenient, low-risk ways to cover much of their initial overhead costs.
Street Shares Foundation
Street Shares is its own veteran-ownedorganization created to link entrepreneurs with investors. The foundationcaters to a range of projects and startups looking for funding. And while theydon’t serve veterans exclusively, they provide particularly strong support forveteran small business owners looking for funding opportunities. They evenoffer benefits like term loans, contract financing, and their “Patriot Express”line of credit. Street Shares prides itself on its transparency whileeliminating much of the financing red tape that causes a slow and cumbersomeprocess.
V-Wise stands for Veteran Women Igniting theSpirit of Entrepreneurship. It’s a training program set up to support femaleveterans starting on the path of creating or managing a small business. Theprogram offers its services to female veterans and female active militarymembers, along with veterans’ female spouses. The program does not offerfinancing but instead provides a detailed 15-day online course and 3-day livetraining event with instruction and mentorship opportunities to helpmilitary-affiliated women launch the business projects that will help them shapetheir future and the future of their families.
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