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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.

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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.

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 www.sba.gov, 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.

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.

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