United States veterans are at least 45 percent more likely to launch a small business than their fellow citizens without military experience, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Small Business Association. In fact, a full 2.5 million businesses—which is nine percent of small businesses in the United States—are majority-owned by someone with active duty status on their resume.
Experts explain this trend as a combination of military experience that renders veterans less risk-averse, combined with an abundance of resources for Americans with military backgrounds. This high participation in entrepreneurship is met with rich government and academic resources. Veterans interested in starting or growing a business can get a head start through these resources:
The U.S. Small Business Association is an excellent portal of information for entrepreneurial veterans. Key features include:
- Access Financing. This search tool helps veterans identify government loans and grants for small businesses
- Veterans Business Outreach Centers. Located throughout the country, these centers help aspiring business owners research, plan, assess, fund, and grow their ideas through training, workshops, and mentorship.
Under the SBA, the Office of Veterans Business Development program is devoted to helping veterans become entrepreneurs. Their programs include:
- Boots to Business has two-day and eight-week programs to help veterans launch and nurture new enterprises, offered at 180 locations worldwide.
- The EBV National Program is an entrepreneurship boot camp that provides training and resources for post- 9/11 disabled veterans and family members who care for them.
- Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) has annual conferences that are free-of-cost to attendees and serve as workshops for aspiring female veteran entrepreneurs.
- Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help cover business operating expenses when active duty reservists are deployed.
Some branches of the armed forces also have their own small business programs:
- Department of the Army Office of Small Business Programs
- Department of the Navy Office of Small Business Programs
- Air Force Small Business Program
Another important resource for veterans is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This agency helps small businesses earn certifications as “veteran-owned” or “service-disabled veteran-owned,” which are designations that can make a business eligible for procurement programs.