There are nearly 22 million veterans in the U.S., and they own 9% of all U.S. businesses, according to Census.gov. Further, 5.8 million people are employed by roughly 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses, which generate an estimated $1.2 trillion in sales. Statistics show that veterans are more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans
Unfortunately, former service men and women often face challenges in raising capital when the return home from duty. Although they many times are given positions of responsibility at a young age, lenders look long and hard at financial information. Frequently, veterans enter the service as teenagers or in their early 20s and have not had much time to build a solid credit history in the private sector.
Fortunately, the SBA has made helping veterans a priority. The agency's Office of Veterans Business Development offers a Boots-to-Business training program for transitioning military personnel. Additionally, the SBA's Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides funds to eligible small businesses to meet operating expenses that can't be met due to an essential employee being called to active duty. These loans are intended to provide the amount of working capital needed by a small business to pay its necessary obligations until operations return to normal after the essential employee is released from active military duty.
On its website the SBA offers the many different types of assistance for veterans covering:
Starting a Business (Writing a Business Plan, Registering a Business, Obtaining Licenses & Permits)
Growing a Business (Hiring Workers, Employee Benefits and Incentives, Marketing, Exporting)
Financing a Company (Estimating Startup Costs, Financing Basics, etc.)
Mentoring & Training (Online Training and Local Resources)
Returning to Your Business
Government Contracting Resources
The SBA boasts numerous Veterans Business Outreach Centers nationwide and has partnerships with 1,000 Small Business Development Centers and 12,000 SCORE ("Counselors to America's Small Businesses") volunteers. The SBA reports that it helps more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans and reservists.
As America says thank you to the members of its military who keep the country safe, it is important that the government offers assistance to help them transition back into the private sector. The U.S. is a land of great opportunity that owes a debt of gratitude to its armed forces. Enabling them to pursue the American Dream of business ownership is the least we can do for them.