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How to Get Support For Your Veteran-Owned Business

For many of our nation’s veterans, making the transition back to civilian life is hard work. Combat vets and service-disabled veterans come home with physical and mental burdens they will bravely carry for many years. That same bravery is an asset for entrepreneurs who aspire to own their own businesses. However, it sometimes takes more than entrepreneurial spirit to get a new business off of the ground.

There are a ton of programs out there for veteran-owned small businesses that can deliver the support you need to get established and move forward under your own power. It’s one of our nation’s ways of giving back and showing appreciation for all of the sacrifices made by military families.

If you’re a vet looking for your best options as you launch a new veteran-owned business, here’s what you need to know.

The Vets First Verification Program

If your Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) is in a sector that regularly takes on government contracts, the Vets First Verification Program is a great option that’s run by the Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU). It’s worth checking to see if you qualify for advantages when bidding on government contracts. You may be eligible if you’re a Veteran and you (or another vet) at your company meet all of the following criteria. At least one of you must:

  • Own 51% or more of the company you want to register
  • Have full control over the day-to-day management, decision-making, and strategic policy of the business
  • Have the managerial experience needed to manage the business
  • Be the highest-paid person in the company (or can provide a written statement explaining why your taking lower pay helps the business)
  • Work full time for the business
  • Hold the highest officer position in the company

Anyone who has served on active duty in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard — and was not dishonorably discharged — will be considered a Veteran. In addition, Reservists and members of the National Guard that have been called to federal activity duty or disabled due to disease or injury while training or in the line of duty would also qualify as Vets.

There’s also a possibility that you can register for the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program if you (or another veteran owner of the business) have at least one of the following:

  • A disability rating letter from us confirming that you have a service-connected disability rating between 0 and 100%
  • A disability determination from the Department of Defense

You can learn more about the Vets First Verification Program and how it can help your VOSB (or SDVOSB) here.

What Kind of Support or Advantages Could My VOSB Receive?

The ability to do business with the VA depends on your registration as a VOSB or SDVOSB. In addition, registration can give you tax advantages, more access to capital, exclusive resources and training on being an entrepreneur or doing business with the VA, support on VA procurements, and priority when bidding on federal or state government contracts.

Are There Other Resources to Help Vets Start or Grow a Business?

Yes, the Vets First Verification Program is just one of many public and private resources dedicated to promoting veteran-owned companies and showing appreciation with small business support. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a range of programs for vets to explore. Make sure to also look for a Veteran Business Outreach Center near you.

Syracuse University works in partnership with the SBA and other organizations to deliver valuable training programs for veteran entrepreneurs, such as Boots to Business and Entrepreneurship Bootcamp For Veterans With Disabilities.

Nonprofits are the third pillar of valuable veteran support. Check out the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association — which is free to join — for resources that range from business coaching and discounts to member networking.

There’s a free virtual program called VetToCEO that was designed specifically to help military vets to kickstart business ventures. Finally, don’t skip the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Veteran Entrepreneur Portal, which houses a wealth of info and easy-to-use resources.

Troop Industrial is rooting for our nation’s ambitious veteran entrepreneurs. Your bravery and sacrifices have made an enormous difference for our country. Now, your country is stepping up to make a difference for you.