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Veterans Small Business Trends

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The national unemployment rate has been above 7% since 2008, and the unemployment rate for Post-9/11 Veterans has been above 10% for most of this year. The president has made a vow to help Veterans find work. The government has implemented programs, such as the Vow to Hire Heroes Act, which helps Veterans find employment, while rewarding the companies that hire them. But while hundreds of companies have pledged to hire more Veterans, many former military prefer to go into business for themselves.

Men and women who have served in the Armed Forces have several key attributes which make them ideal candidates for business ownership. Veterans know how to work hard, but more importantly, they know how to delegate tasks. Veteran Entrepreneurs won’t try to shoulder the load alone, but instead will use their military leadership experience to train their employees to run the business as they themselves would run it.

One of the most important attributes that Veteran-Entrepreneurs possess is often over-looked and seldom mentioned. But the fact is, that no matter what a Veteran’s rank was when they separated from the military, they spent a career taking orders, and now want to call their own shots as civilians. This desire to be independent, combined with the confidence gained by a meritorious military career, make Veterans ideal aspirants to be successful business owners.

A growing trend in the community of Veteran Entrepreneurship is the utilization of opportunities found in franchise companies. Many franchise companies offer Veterans discounts on buy-in and start-up fees. Here are a few of the many notable companies that offer special franchise opportunities for military Veterans:

Little Caesars offers qualified Honorably Discharged Veterans $5,000 off the franchise fee, and $5,000 in credit for equipment. They also offer qualified Disabled Veterans up to $68,000 in benefits, including a waived franchising fee, and up to $10,000 credit for equipment and additional financing.

The UPS Store offers qualified Veterans and spouses of active duty service members $10,000 off the franchising fee, and up to 50% off the application fee.

7-Eleven offers qualified Veterans up to $35,000 off on franchises, and up to 65% in financing.

AAMco offers Veterans who purchase a franchise an $8,000 credit, and direct SBA loans.

Veteran Entrepreneurs are not limited to franchising with existing companies. This is just one of many ways that Veterans can go into business for themselves. There are many programs and benefits available for Veterans who are interested in starting their own business, or buying into a franchise company. The first place that potential Veteran Entrepreneurs should look is the VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.

SBA Assists Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

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Making sure that small business owners can easily access the capital they need to start and grow their business is priority one for the Small Business Administration (SBA). Some 260, 000 small businesses and entrepreneurs have benefitted from $126 billion in lending since 2009.

Entrepreneurs and small businesses have consistently proven to be drivers of jobs and innovation, and are often the major contributors to most local economies. Reaching their third highest year of lending in FY 2013 (more than $29 billion), the SBA has contributed to the strength and resiliency of America’s 28 million small businesses. As they continue to recover, they are driving the economy forward.

It’s no coincidence that many small business owners and entrepreneurs have served in the military. Data from the SBA shows that Veterans own about 2.4 million businesses, or 9 percent of all U.S. businesses, employing 5.8 million workers.

Small businesses help stimulate economic growth by providing employment opportunities. Additionally, entrepreneurs and small businesses tend to attract talent who invent new products or implement new solutions for existing ideas. Many small businesses also possess the ability to respond and adapt quickly to changing economic climates. This is due, in part, to the fact that small businesses are often very customer-oriented. Local customers will remain loyal to their favorite small businesses, especially those that are “Veteran Owned”, in the midst of an economic crisis. This loyalty means that small businesses are often able to stay afloat during tough times, which can further strengthen local economies.

The Small Loan Advantage (SLA) program, first launched in February, 2011, and revamped in June, 2012 produced dramatic results by providing loans under $350,000 to small businesses and entrepreneurs in underserved communities.

Streamlining the loan process helped the success of the CAPlines program. This program provides working capital lines of credit designed to help small businesses with their short-term working capital needs.

So far this year, the SBA has supported more than 7,700,504 loans, providing small businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing to acquire real estate and major fixed assets, for a total of more than $11.7 billion.

For more information about these and other SBA programs, visit the SBA website at, or contact your local SBA field office.

Veteran Owned

There is a community of men and women in our nation that take great pride in all that they do. The members of this group can be recognized by the way that they walk a little straighter, with their fists balled at their sides. They never lock their knees when standing for long periods of time. When members of this community recognize another member, they often feel an instant bond with one another. These men and women live among us. They are our parents, our siblings, our cousins, our neighbors and our friends. They are the Veterans of the US armed services.

Already proven to have the courage needed to answer the call to duty, Veterans are also armed with a confidence that stems from their completion of extensive training.  These attributes, when teamed with their accelerated life experience, help to distinguish Veterans from other civilians. Veterans are leaders and stalwart members in their communities.  Their courage, confidence, training, experience and leadership abilities empower Veterans to not shy away from the trials and tribulations of business ownership. Instead, they attack entrepreneurship with the same dutiful service that they gave their country.

According to the Small Business Administration’s task force on Veterans Small Business Development, Veterans are 45% more likely to start their own business. The SBA also claims that Veteran Entrepreneurs own 2.4 million businesses, roughly 10% of the businesses in the nation. That number could even be as high as 5.5 million.

Any person can dream up an idea and create a business from it; that doesn’t mean that their business will be successful. Having a sound business plan and sticking to that plan is what often determines whether or not a business will succeed. Veteran Entrepreneurs are often successful because they won’t make any move without a plan. Veterans were trained to gather intelligence, develop a strategy, and then follow the plan, only modifying when necessary, in order to complete a mission.

Like the Veterans themselves, their businesses are usually more disciplined, more ethical, more goal-oriented and more successful. Americans should make it a point to support, promote and patronize Veteran-owned businesses. Veteran Entrepreneurs and their businesses positively affect the communities and the marketplace they inhabit. Veteran Entrepreneurs and Veteran Businesses promote the “can do” attitude that embodies the American way of life. Veteran Entrepreneurship could even help boost the current economy. According to the SBA, Veteran-owned businesses generated $1.2 trillion in receipts, and employed nearly 5.8 million people for fiscal year 2012.

VA Implements New Verifying Program

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vets first

Veteran Entrepreneurs and Disabled Veterans looking to start their own businesses have sought assistance, advice & funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) since its official formation in 1930.  The VA gained its authority to aid and assist Veteran Entrepreneurs with obtaining government contracts through the “Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006”. This legislation was enacted by congress in order to expand and improve benefits for Veterans, Disabled Veterans and their survivors and dependants. Recently, under this statute, the VA has created the Veterans First Contracting Program.

Section 502 of the act establishes the VA’s role for setting goals for the participation of  Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB’s) , and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSB’s) in procurement contracts. And Section 503 establishes that the VA will grant priority to SDVOSB/VOSB‘s that meet requirements set forth by the VA.

As part of the Veterans First Contracting Program, the VA has made one of its participation requirements to be the entry of the SDVOSB/VOSB into its small business database. To ensure that this requirement is met, the VA is making entry into its database part of their verification process. And in order to qualify for participation in the VA Veterans First Contracting Program, eligible business owners must first be verified.

Along with adding businesses into their database, the VA has implemented a new procurement hierarchy which places their highest priority with SDVOB followed by VOSB. In the hierarchy, these businesses are followed by businesses in the Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program, Woman-Owned Small Business, and then all other small businesses. This procurement hierarchy is an extension of VA’s mission to care for Veterans.

In order to prevent Veteran Entrepreneurs from being disqualified for VA assistance solely due to incorrect/incomplete applications, the VA has made the VA SDVOSB/VOSB Verification Application Guide available on their website. The VA has also developed a Verification Assistance Program designed to help Veterans understand the Verification policy and walk them through the process. The goals of the programs in these links are to help reduce the risk of denial due to lack of understanding and misinterpretation of the new regulations. Veteran Entrepreneurs can also find step-by-step instructions in the VA’s Verification Process Briefing.

vet owned

Effective September 30, 2013, The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will utilize the rights given to the VA under the “Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006” (Public Law 109-461); which authorizes the VA as the final say on all acquisition protests as to whether a company is a service-disabled veteran small business, a veteran-owned small business or not.

On Sep. 30, the VA issued an  Interim Final Rule into the Federal Register which states that the VA would no longer cede the authority to decide status protests, which determined whether a business is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) or Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB), to the Small Business Administration (SBA). Instead, the VA stated the decision to remain in charge of deciding status protests would be under the VA’s control.

Also under the interim final rule, the decision authority will now fall under the authority of the director of the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE). Formerly, that authority was granted to the director of the Office of Small and Disadvantage Business Utilization (OSDBU). Now, the OSDBU only will have authority over status appeals after the CVE gives applicants their initial decision.

According to the previous interim rule, put in place back in 2009, the VA and SBA were supposed to come to an interagency agreement as to the process for status protests and appeals. But the two agencies couldn’t reach an acceptable agreement and VA decided to retain the task.

The oversight of the status of service-disabled and veteran-owned small businesses has been the subject to debate and controversy since the pervious interim final rule was established in 2009. There are many critics of the VA’s handling of the status certification program, saying that there are vulnerabilities in the program that could lead to the misuse and abuse of the system, fraud and even righteous would-be recipients being excluded from the program. Veterans have called the application and appeals process burdensome and frustrating.

Under the new rule, the VA believes that it is improving the process by adopting procedures that are similar to what the SBA uses to solve status protests for the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program.

The VA will be accepting comments through the month of November. Written comments may be submitted through; by mail or hand-delivery to: Department of Veterans Affairs, c/o Director, Regulation Policy and Management (02REG),  810 Vermont Avenue NW. Room 1068,  Washington, DC 20420 , or by fax to (202) 273-9026.

Comments should indicate that they are submitted in response to “RIN 2900-AM92-VA Acquisition Regulation: Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned and Veteran-Owned Small Business Status Protests.” Copies of comments received will be available for public inspection in the Office of Regulation Policy and Management, Room 1068, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (except holidays).

Please call (202) 461-4902 for an appointment. (This is not a toll-free number.)