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small business aid for veterans

Small Business Aid for Entrepreneurial Veterans

Military veterans looking for small business aid will find no shortage of options, in large part because they’re such a valuable and successful contingent of the business community.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy says veterans own more than 1.9 million businesses, which represent some $1.3 trillion in annual sales and employ almost 5.5 million Americans.

Veteran-owned small businesses span numerous industries, from professional and technical services to construction to real estate to forestry, and so much more.

If you’re a military veteran who wants to join those ranks and express your entrepreneurial spirit, several organizations want to help. The following are a number of resources for small business aid for entrepreneurial veterans.

9 Ways Veterans Can Get Small Business Aid

1. SBA Express Loans

The SBA Express loan program provides small businesses with $500,000 of working capital. While it’s part of the 7(a) program, it’s a faster delivery method; loans are processed within 36 hours and can be funded within weeks.

While this is not a veteran-specific SBA loan, veterans pay no origination or other upfront fees on these loans. But because the government doesn’t guarantee as much as a traditional 7(a) loan, interest rates might be higher, but they still may not exceed the SBA maximum.

To join the Veterans Advantage Program, a small business “must be at least 51% owned and controlled by an individual or individuals” in one of several groups:

  • Honorably discharged veterans
  • Active duty military service members eligible for the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP)
  • Active reservists and/or active National Guard members
  • Current spouse of any veteran, active duty service member, reservist, National Guard member
  • Widowed spouse of a service member who died while in service or as a result of a service-connected disability

2. Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Program

The federal government aims to award at least 5% of its federal contracting dollars annually to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs).

The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program allows service-disabled vets to compete for the program’s set-aside contracts. To qualify, your small business must be at least 51% controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans, with at least one such vet managing day-to-day operations and making long-term decisions. Other eligibility requirements also apply.

3. Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loans

The SBA also provides loans to help small businesses deal with losing essential employees to reservist call-ups.

Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loans are provided to small businesses that are not able to fund their own recovery in the event an essential employee is brought into active duty. Terms also depend on economic injury and business interruption insurance. The maximum loan is $2 million, though the SBA can waive that limit if your business is considered a “major source of employment.”

4. Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization is a resourceful outlet for veteran entrepreneurs, offering education, training and more. But its primary goal is to connect veteran-owned businesses with contract opportunities.

The OSDBU tackles most of these goals through its Veteran Entrepreneur Portal, which teaches veterans how to start businesses, how to access funding and how to access federal procurement opportunities, among many more things.

5. Warrior Rising

Warrior Rising is a nonprofit that has assisted more than 26,000 “vetrepreneurs” since 2015, including 21 veteran-owned businesses valued at more than $1 million each.

The nonprofit does provide several funding opportunities, from its own grants and loans to helping veterans apply for SBA loans or introducing them to potential investors. But it also provides training through its Warrior Academy, as well as one-on-one mentoring.

6. Boots to Business

While Boots to Business isn’t a direct source of financial small business aid, it is a well-regarded program offered up via the SBA TAP.

The program, which is for transitioning Service members (including National Guard and Reserve) and their spouses, starts with a two-day, in-person “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” course. Veterans will learn everything they need to know to start a small business, as well as what resources are available to them.

Once they’ve graduated from that course, veterans can also participate in the B2B Revenue Readiness course. This interactive virtual classroom experience teaches entrepreneurs how to take their ideas and turn them into “an executable business model.”

Boots 2 Business also offers Reboot (B2BR) Classes, which are one- or two-day courses offered off-installation to for veterans of all eras, including National Guard and Reserve, and their spouses.

7. Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE)

Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE), from the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans & Military Families (IVMF), is another training program. V-WISE is targeted toward helping women veterans, military spouses and partners learn business management and entrepreneurship skills.

The program, which boasts more than 3,400 graduates, is broken down into three phases: a 15-day online intensive (Phase I), a three-day residency (Phase II), and 12-month ongoing support on small business creation and growth (Phase III). The program offers training in business planning, financing, economics, business law and more. Speakers and instructors include Fortune 500 CEOs, successful entrepreneurs and government leaders.

Registration is $75 and includes educational materials, two nights of lodging during the residency phase, and most meals, though participants are responsible for travel.

8. Bunker Labs Veterans in Residence

In 2024, IVMF also acquired Bunker Labs, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting veteran and military-spouse entrepreneurs. Its Bunker Labs Veterans in Residence is a free business startup program that helps veterans and military spouses learn what they need to grow their business. The program is virtual-only, lasts 10 weeks, and requires five to eight hours per week.

Bunker Labs Veterans in Residence is open to veterans, as well as military spouses and life partners, who served after Sept. 11, 2001, though the program will consider pre-Sept. 11 veterans. Veterans must have an honorable discharge.

9. Hivers & Strivers

Hivers & Strivers is an angel investment group that invests exclusively in companies led by military veterans. The firm typically invests between $100,000 to $1 million in a fundraising round. And it boasts portfolio companies such as rent and security deposit insurance firm LeaseLock; speciality healthcare company VetAccel; and True Made Foods, which makes sugar-free condiments.

Need More Help Finding Financing?

McManamon & Co. is an accounting, tax, fraud, forensic and consulting firm that specializes in small and midsize businesses. And among the topics our professional consulting services can tackle is finding small business aid for veterans – everything from specialized grants to SBA loans to traditional bank loans and investment opportunities.

Join the veteran-owned-business community. Call McManamon at 440.892.8900 or contact us online today!

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