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Nominations Are Open for Connecticut Small Business Week Awards

Do you own a small business, or know someone who does? Do you know of a small business owner with a compelling success story to tell? If you do, you should submit your nomination for the 2014 SBA Small Business Week Awards.

For over 50 years, National Small Business Week has recognized the contributions and achievements of America’s small businesses and their owners, for their contributions to their communities and to the national economy.

Small Business Week award categories include:
•        Small Business Person of the Year
•        Small Business Exporter of the Year
•        Family- Owned Business of the Year
•        Micro-Enterprise Award
•        Minority Small Business Champion of the Year
•        Veteran Owned Small Business of the Year
•        Women Owned Small Business of the Year
•        Young Entrepreneur of the Year

You can find nomination information by visiting the SBA website. Forms can be downloaded as a PDF by using the latest version of Adobe reader. The “Small Business Person of the Year” and the” Small Business Exporter of the Year” awards nominations can be submitted online, by accessing the SBA online portal.

Local award winners will also be eligible to advance to the regional level and regional winners will become eligible for the national level awards. Winners of  national awards will be announced during National Small Business Week May 12-16, 2014.

Self-nominations are accepted. Nominations must be received no later than 11:59 pm ET on Friday, January 17, 2014.

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), Veterans are 45% more likely to start their own business. The desire to choose their own path, instead of following orders, and the confidence gained from a career filled with mission accomplishment all factor in to Veterans choosing the entrepreneurial path. Additionally, the Veteran unemployment rate that consistently remains near 10% makes starting a business more attractive. And beginning next year, Veteran entrepreneurs will have an easier beginning on their path to financial independence.

The SBA recently announced that beginning January 1, 2014, through the end of the fiscal year, the borrower upfront fee will be set at zero for all Veteran loans that are authorized under the SBA Express program. While SBA Express only supports loans that are $350,000 or less,  the SBA Express Loan Program is the SBA’s most commonly used loan program. Approximately 60% of all 7(a) loans over the past 10 years have come through the SBA Express Loan Program.

Those eligible for the SBA Express Loan include: Veterans (other than those who were dishonorably discharged), active-duty service members who have completed the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP), reservists, National Guard members, any spouse of the previously stated, or any widowed spouse of a service member who died while in service or of a service-connected disability.

Like all 7(a) loans, Express loans are granted to businesses, not individuals. Eligible Veterans or spouses must own and control 51% of the business or more in order to qualify.

In addition to loans, the SBA provides Veteran entrepreneurs with access to small-business counseling and training, focusing on how to develop your small business through opportunities such as government contracts. In 2013, SBA supported $1.86 billion in loans for 3,094 Veteran-owned small businesses.  For more information about zero-fee SBA Express loans and other programs and benefits, visit the SBA website at, or contact your local SBA field office.

Veteran Entrepreneurship, the Road to Success

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Veteran Entrepreneurship

Veteran entrepreneurship is great for Veteran employment, and great for the economy. The Small Business Administration (SBA) contends that there are 2.4 million Veteran owned businesses and they make up 9.1% of all U.S. businesses. Veteran businesses also employed 6 million people, and generated over $1 trillion in 2012.

The SBA believes that Veteran entrepreneurship is on the rise, especially among Veterans of the Global War on Terrorism. The number of Veteran business owners under the age of 35 rose from 4.6% in 2007 to 7.1% in 2012.

Many speculate that the rise of Veteran entrepreneurship is due to Veterans’ desires to no longer take orders from someone else, and decide their own fates. This could be true for some, but there is a lot more to be read into the situation.

Military service breeds a sense of confidence in those who have served. After completing training, deployments and campaigns, many servicemembers believe that they can accomplish any mission that they are assigned. Another reason that Veterans go into business for themselves is the cruel job market. Veterans who find it hard to get someone to hire them find other ways to earn a living. But the biggest factor that contributes to Veterans choosing the uncertain road of business ownership is the benefits that Veterans are eligible for to help them on their road to success.

Beginning with the Post-9/11 GI Bill, there is a multitude of benefits for Veteran Entrepreneurs. Veterans can use their GI Bill to earn vocational certifications and licenses, as well as degrees that will lend credence to their new business. Veteran entrepreneurs are also eligible for various loans and grants through the VA, and also discounts, waivers and tax breaks from federal, state and local agencies. Veterans are also offered discounts on franchising through many private corporations. The VA offers training for Veteran entrepreneurship in whatever field they choose.

Whatever the reason, Veteran entrepreneurs have a proven track record for durability and vitality. Data from the Census Bureau’s 2012 Survey of Business showed that 88.9% of Veteran owned businesses were at least 3 years old.

All Veterans interested in joining their comrades on the road to success by owning their own business should research the benefits and discounts that they are eligible for. With an anthology of helpful links and information, the VAMBOA website is a great place for prospective Veteran business owners to take their first steps on the road to self-employment.

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.