As Veteran's Day draws near, I thought it would be a great time to direct attention to the number of veteran-owned businesses operating in the United States. Recent estimates show over 2.45 million small businesses in the United States are owned by veterans, representing over 9% of all U.S. businesses. Most of these businesses specialize in technology, consulting or construction and require less start-up capital than a typical small business. Fortunately, the process of obtaining veteran funding is becoming much easier, which should be beneficial because the unemployment rate for veterans is currently higher than for the general population.
Where Do I Start?
If you are a veteran or you know a veteran who is seeking a business loan, a great place to start is with the Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD), an offshoot of the US Small Business Administration (SBA). The OVBD offers a wide variety of programs designed to assist veterans - counseling, training, and business support are all within the OVBD scope of services. The organization actually maintains dozens of localized resource centers around the country so veterans can receive one-on-one, in-person business assistance when they are ready to start a business.
The Center for Veterans Enterprise, a subsidiary of the Veterans Affairs office, dedicates itself full-time to assisting military personnel with achieving their business goals. From information on veteran funding to healthcare to team business ventures, the Center for Veterans Enterprise is an excellent resource for any military member wishing to go into business for him or herself.
What Funding Options Are Available for Veterans?
Funding for veteran-owned businesses is becoming easier to procure. The government recently expanded the Patriot Express Loan Program through the SBA, cutting bureaucratic red tape and expediting the loan process for past and active-duty military members. Under Patriot Express, eligible veterans who apply to receive a small business loan can receive approval in as little as ten days. This type of funding is ideal to cover start-up costs, growth and expansion, inventory expenses and payroll.
There are several options available to veterans who are trying to obtain financial assistance when starting a veteran-owned business. Traditional banks offer small business loans to veterans, but it is often more difficult to get approval. However, alternative lenders offer veteran loans from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars at surprisingly low rates and are a great choice in cases where a veteran may have been turned down by a traditional bank. The SBA also offers some specialized small business loans to veterans, though many conditions frequently apply.
Who Should I Talk To?
If you are looking for more information on how to start your veteran-owned business, contact your local chapter of the Office of Veterans Business Development.
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