Veterans Can Enlist the Aid of Many Small Business Resources
If you’re a veteran or plan on leaving the service soon, you may be thinking about starting a career or competing for a job in today’s crowded marketplace. This could be the ideal time to consider starting a small business, especially if you already have business or management experience, or acquired new skills and interests while serving our country.
Veterans already make up a sizeable portion of the nation’s entrepreneurs. A 2004 study conducted by the Small Business Administration (SBA) found that 22 percent of veterans in the U.S. household population had either started or purchased a small business, or were considering doing so. And more than 60 percent of new veteran entrepreneurs planned to operate their ventures at least initially from home.
Along with innumerable markets to apply your energy and interests, there are also many funding assistance programs designed specifically for veterans. For example, the SBA’s Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative offers loans of up to $500,000 to help start or grow a small business via a nationwide network of participating lenders. Patriot Express loans feature the SBA’s lowest business loan interest rates—generally 2.25 percent to 4.75 percent over prime depending upon the loan’s size and maturity—as well as a fast approval turnaround time. The loan can be used for most business purposes, including start-up, expansion, equipment purchases, working capital, inventory, or business-occupied real-estate purchases.
Another valuable source of information is http://www.vetbiz.gov, established by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to assist veteran entrepreneurs with starting and expanding their businesses in the federal and private marketplace. The site also includes a database listing businesses more than 51-percent owned by veterans or service-connected disabled veterans—a valuable tool for promoting your new business to potential federal and private-sector customers.
Many SCORE chapters have established programs or outreach specifically for veterans, National Guard members, and military reservists. For example, California SCORE chapters have teamed with the state’s National Guard to help soldiers, their families, and business partners accomplish business objectives at www.score114.org/NationalGuard. Bucks County, Pa., SCORE at www.score570.org offers special services to assist returning soldiers and their spouses with starting a new business or reviving a current one. And, SCORE Counselor Louis Celli, Jr., who is also president of the Northeast Veterans Business Resource Center, provides a wealth of information for veteran-owned businesses at www.nevbrc.org.
SCORE Lancaster is a nonprofit organization of more than 50 volunteer business mentors who provide free, confidential business counseling, and training workshops, to small business owners. Call us at 717-397-3092 or find us online at www.scorelancaster.org.