According to a Small Business Administration report on veteran-owned businesses and their owners, released in 2017, nearly 2.52 million businesses in the U.S. were owned by veterans. The report further revealed that over 9% of all U.S. businesses were veteran-owned, highlighting the significant contribution veterans make to the overall economic well-being of the U.S.
While veterans may seem uniquely qualified to become successful business owners by virtue of their training and discipline, in fact all business owners face sometimes difficult and unpredictable challenges. From daily operational issues to workforce management to raising capital, being a business owner is no walk in the park. Add to this the challenges of the pandemic that have hurt businesses in many industries, and you have a difficult situation for the modern vet-owned business.
To help veteran-owned businesses and self-employed veterans during these challenging times, we have put together this collection of public and private organizations.
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Resources Through the Government
The federal government has a handful of resources and programs that are helpful for veterans:
Small Business Administration
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal agency that provides help to entrepreneurs. The Veterans Advantage 7(a) loan is created specifically to help veterans get the funds they need to start a small business. These loans offer longer terms and smaller down payments than traditional business loans and have less stringent credit requirements. Certain loan fees are also reduced for qualified veterans who apply for the loan program.
The SBA also has a coronavirus-specific option. The SBA Economic Injury Disaster Assistance offers some states and territories disaster loans that small businesses can use if they are hurting due to the coronavirus. While these aren’t specific to veterans, they are helpful in this unique economic situation.
Veterans Affairs Veteran Readiness and Employment Program
The Veterans Affairs Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program provides vets with service-related disabilities the help they need to reach their professional goals. It has a self-employment track for entrepreneurs who can’t find employment because of their disability. To receive assistance starting your own business through this program, you must first enroll in VR&E and confirm that your disability prevents you from finding traditional employment. If you qualify, you will get the training necessary to handle small-business operations, finances, and marketing.
Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)
The OSDBU is part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and assists vet-owned businesses that are facing economic hardship. The OSDBU does not provide funding directly, but it will connect these businesses with government agencies that need their services. It is easy to get help through the OSDBU. Simply register and verify your business and your business’ information will be added to the directory. Your business can then be matched with suitable government projects. If the pandemic has caused your business to lose some opportunities, getting some of these government contracts could help.
Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (MREIDL)
MREIDL gives businesses access to loans if they have a vital employee who gets called to active duty. Many veteran-owned businesses are prone to hiring military professionals, and they can be hurt when those employees are called away. Adding the loss of a key employee to the losses sustained during the pandemic could be more than a business can handle. MREIDL loan money allows the business to hold the position for the soldier until he or she can return home. Though this program isn’t directed at veterans specifically, it is one many veterans can utilize.
Private Organizations Helping Veteran Entrepreneurs
In addition to these government organizations, you can get help for your business through these non-government groups:
Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA)
VAMBOA is an organization that provides business coaching, financial information, mentorship, and contracts to veteran-owned businesses and their owners. It is a great place to connect with other veteran entrepreneurs or to get your business seen by those who wish to support it. Through VAMBOA, you could potentially find more contracts to get you through the pandemic.
Veterans Launching Ventures
Veterans Launching Ventures is a program from Farleigh Dickenson University that provides a certificate course on how to launch and grow a successful business for veterans and their families. Vets are partnered with other vets who serve as mentors for ten months. In the midst of the pandemic, this coursework could provide the foundation to overcome the challenges of the coronavirus and build a new, thriving business.
In these unprecedented times, veterans who are also small business owners need all the help they can get. If you’re a veteran whose business was impacted by the coronavirus, Rocket Lawyer can help. We’re proud to help small businesses with their business goals, whether that is starting a business, incorporating, or making business contracts. Rocket Lawyer can also help you connect with an attorney today for legal advice and answers to your specific questions.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.