Small businesses do their part to help the economy. So, it is unsurprising that many veterans want to continue to do what they can for their country by starting up their own small businesses. This article offers insights into starting a veteran-owned small business and provides small business resources for veterans.
“Veterans make up roughly 7 percent of the population and veteran-owned businesses account for 6.1 percent of all firms in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” military entrepreneur Nick Bradfield blogs. He also offers several examples of successful military business ideas. They include an intelligence analytics company helping to prevent school shootings, a toddler-friendly baby mat, and a builder developing accessible homes for disabled veterans and the general public.
Whatever your idea, you can get a leg up on the competition by drawing on small business veterans administration resources and other VA small business assistance.
This article will discuss:
- What qualifies as a veteran-owned small business
- Small business resources for veterans
- How to start a veteran-owned small business
- Best small businesses for veterans
What Qualifies as a Veteran-Owned Small Business
Before looking for small business help for veterans, it helps to know what the small business veterans administration considers a veteran-owned business.
To meet the government’s small business requirements and be at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by a veteran.
It can help a lot to identify as a veteran-owned business. Several businesses and government initiatives are offering veteran small business benefits. Additionally, qualifying as a veteran-owned small business can make your efforts eligible for certain government contracts.
You may know that you’re a veteran, but you’ll need to actually apply for the veteran-owned business designation. You’ll need a copy of your military records to fill out a Department of Defense Form 214 (DD 214). Once you have proven you have retired, separated, or been discharged from active duty, you can apply for a business from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Military personnel who were disabled in service could also qualify for the 3% of federal government contracts set aside for those in the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program.
Note: Military spouses can also take advantage of many small business resources.
Small Business Resources for Veterans
When it comes to small business for veterans and where to start, a great first step is to visit the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans Business Development. Its mission is “to maximize the availability, applicability and usability of all administration small business programs for Veterans, Service-Disabled Veterans, Reserve Component Members, and their Dependents or Survivors.”
They offer a Boots to Business “entrepreneurial education and training program for transitioning service members and their spouses,” as well as other resources to help veterans build and grow a business.
The Veteran and Military Business Owners Association is another valuable resource. The trade organization offers free membership and access to services such as:
- Connections to corporations that embrace supplier diversity
- Strategic alliances with top government agencies and the private sector
- Member-to-member exchanges, referrals, and discounts
- Potential partners for joint ventures
- Franchise opportunity discounts
- Training and certification
Find more support for small businesses that are veteran-owned from:
- National Veteran Small Business Coalition
- Veteran Fast Launch Initiative
- Veteran Entrepreneur Portal
How To Start a Veteran-Owned Small Business
Starting a new small business takes perseverance for anyone. Fortunately, veterans can benefit from a built-in community of other business owners. Additionally, those who have served in the military have already demonstrated an ability to perform under pressure and adapt to changing conditions. It’s not that civilians don’t have these traits, but the mental toughness developed in the military can come in handy for entrepreneurs.
When it comes to starting a small business for veterans, the important initial steps remain the same. You’ll want to:
- Find your niche
- Determine your market
- Make a business plan
- Develop a business website
- Identify vendor partners
- Market your product or service
Best Small Businesses for Veterans
There are many small business opportunities for veterans. You might elect to open a brick-and-mortar store or offer a service to your community. We’ve written before about the pros and cons of starting a business in your home.
We’ve also shared several great online business options, including:
- Freelance designer
- Freelance writer
- Blogging or e-books
- Software development/consulting
- Selling online
- Online assistant
Launching a Veteran-Owned Small Business
This article has discussed how to qualify as a veteran-owned small business, suggested resources for veteran small businesses, and discussed how to start your business and ones that might be a good fit.
To get more small business ideas for veterans, visit our resources on current trends. We also offer detailed articles on business planning, marketing, and more to help veterans start a small business.