If you’re a veteran and you’re interested in opening your own business, there are some advantages you have and resources available to you that you should know about. It’s estimated that about one in 14 businesses in the United States is veteran-owned, so the veteran business presence is significant. The countless skills learned in military service can be surprisingly transferable to the business world, and that’s just the start of the resources you can take advantage of. To learn more about some things you should know when starting up your business, read on.
1. You Can Apply for Special Funding
As an entrepreneur, all the typical routes of financing are open to you, including working with venture capitalists, crowdfunding and securing traditional bank loans. However, there are also some loans and grants open only to veterans that you could apply for, such as the Veterans Business Fund. Check the Veteran Business Outreach Centers for grant referrals – if you manage to secure a grant, you don’t have to pay the money back!
2. Consider Becoming a Government Contractor
You already have extensive experience with the government, and now you can benefit by registering as a government contractor. When you run a veteran-owned business, the General Services Administration will actually consider you for contracts before considering any civilian-owned businesses, giving you a leg up against larger, more powerful companies. This work is often stable, lucrative and can even be long-term, so it could be worth looking into. If you’re interested in this route, there are several resources available to help you secure some contracts. For instance, the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal offers financing and training tips; the National Veteran Small Business Coalition helps you get first consideration; and the Vets First Verification Program lets you register for unique federal government business opportunities.
3. Network With Other Veterans
Finally, another advantage that you have as a veteran is your wide range of connections, which go a long way both personally and professionally. Try joining an organization that helps veterans connect with each other, as well as with other entrepreneurs, professionals and potential mentors. The nonprofit Bunker Labs, for instance, helps link up veteran business owners.
As a veteran, you have countless transferable skills and numerous resources available to you that can provide a big boost when you’re starting your own business. Keep these tips in mind, and you can feel confident you’re doing all you can to make your veteran-owned business a success story.