Many people join the Armed Forces to gain valuable skills, training, and personal growth. The opportunities need not end when it’s time to return to civilian life. In exchange for serving our country, several programs help veterans transition to new roles as owners of their own small businesses.
For example, the U.S. Small Business Administration has partnered with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, SCORE, Small Business Development Centers, and other resource partners to create the Boots to Business (boots2business.org). This program provides transitioning service members the knowledge, tools and resources they need to evaluate opportunities and become successful entrepreneurs.
Following its successful launch in 2012, Boots to Business aims to make the nuts and bolts of starting and growing a business to the 250,000 service members from all branches of the military that transition each year.
For veteran entrepreneurs who need financing, the SBA’s Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative offers loans of up to $500,000 to 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 an expedited 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.
To help veteran-owned businesses connect with public- and private-sector customers for their products and services, there’s the Department of Veterans Affairs’ http://www.vetbiz.gov. 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.
And don’t forget the Veteran Fast Launch Initiative. This collaboration of SCORE and the Wal-Mart Foundation provides provide veterans and active duty military members (plus spouses and immediate family members with free or significantly discounted business start-up resources such as software and business services (provided by major corporate partners); scholarships to attend SCORE small business start-up workshops; Web-based workshops, tools, templates, and white papers; and, of course, access to SCORE’s mentoring program.
Veterans and civilians alike can profit from the extensive small business resources offered by Raleigh SCORE. We provide free, confidential business mentoring and training workshops to small business owners. To schedule a free appointment with our experienced counselors, go to http://raleigh.score.org, or call us at 919-856-4739.