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What You Need to Know Before Starting a Veteran-Owned Business

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Changing careers can be stressful for anyone, but the transition from military service to civilian life is a change like no other. Many Veterans experience “culture shock” when they discover that the civilian workplace is less organized, less structured, and less disciplined than the military environment. Others have reported frustrations with the relaxed delineation of job duties, inefficient business systems, and civilian colleagues not showing up on time for work. With daily tasks now focused on turning a profit versus protecting lives, it’s not uncommon for Veterans to experience a lack of a sense of purpose.

As a result, many Veterans decide to make a difference in the world and become their own boss. They consider entrepreneurship as a way to channel their skills, discipline, organization, and military experiences into a new career path. 

If you're a Veteran looking to start a business, congratulations! Many of your skills acquired through military service can seamlessly translate to the civilian world. There are important factors to consider, though, including financing options, grants, certification, and loans. At AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust LLC (AWM&T), we applaud you for considering entrepreneurship and would like to share key financial aspects of starting a Veteran-owned business. 

Look For Financing Options (Veteran Owned Business Funding)

Starting a business often requires a significant financial investment. As a Veteran, you have access to various financing options tailored to support Veteran-owned businesses.

Veteran-Owned Business Grants

Warrior Rising

Warrior Rising is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering “U.S. Military Veterans and their immediate family members by providing them opportunities to create sustainable businesses, perpetuate the hiring of fellow American Veterans, and earn their future.” They offer a variety of coaching programs and resources, including grants, to assist Veterans in launching and growing their businesses. These grants can be a valuable source of funding for your startup.

The Second Service Foundation

The Second Service Foundation is another nonprofit organization committed to supporting Veterans, military spouses, and Gold Star Families in their entrepreneurial endeavors. They’re dedicated to helping you “grow your ideas and small business from startup to the stars.” The Second Service Foundation provides coaching, resources, and capital, as well as a mentorship program. They provide grants and host both pitch and military entrepreneur competitions that result in grants and other resources for winners.  Exploring opportunities with organizations like these can give your startup the financial boost it needs.

Veteran Readiness & Employment

The Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program, also known as Chapter 31, is a program offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This initiative offers education and employment services to Veterans with service-connected disabilities. While not a traditional grant, this vocational rehabilitation program can provide financial support for education and training that can be beneficial when starting your business.

Veteran-Owned Business Certification

Make Sure You Qualify

To access certain benefits and opportunities, it's important to become certified as a Veteran-owned business. Primary certifications include:

  • Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB)
  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB)
  • Veteran Administration (VA) Certified Veteran Enterprise (CVE) Veteran Owned Small Business.
  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern (SDVOSBC) Program.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)2 cites Title 38 CFR Part 74 and 13 CFR Part 125 and defines eligible veterans as follows:

1. “A Veteran is a person who served on active duty with the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard for any length of time and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.”

“Reservists or members of the National Guard called to federal active duty or disabled from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty or while in training status also qualify as Veterans.”

2. “A Service-disabled Veteran is a Veteran who possesses either a disability rating letter issued by VA establishing a Service-connected rating between 0 and 100 percent, or a disability determination from the Department of Defense.”

3. Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria, which typically involves proof of Veteran status and majority ownership by a Veteran.

Complete Application

The certification process may require documentation, such as your DD Form 214 and business ownership records. It's essential to gather and submit all necessary paperwork accurately and promptly to streamline the certification process.

Take Advantage by Displaying Your Certification

Once you're certified as a Veteran-owned business, proudly display your certification on your website, marketing materials, social media, and business proposals. Many government agencies and corporations prioritize working with Veteran-owned businesses, so this certification can open doors to new opportunities.

Loans for Veteran-Owned Businesses

In addition to grants and certification, you may need to explore small business loan options to fund your Veteran-owned business. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides funding resources including loan programs and a Lender Match tool that connects you with authorized lenders in your area.  

AWM&T for Trusted Military Financial Guidance

Starting a Veteran-owned business requires careful planning and access to the right resources. By seeking financing options and grants, obtaining certification, and exploring loans, you can position yourself for success in the world of entrepreneurship. 

When you choose AWM&T for financial guidance, you’ll receive specialized planning solutions, a dedicated Relationship Manager, and financial planning solutions to reduce the stress of your career change. We’ll analyze your income needs, tax strategies, budgets, investments, and retirement plans to create a personalized action plan to help you adapt and succeed as a Veteran entrepreneur. To start the conversation, email or call 910-307-3500, today.

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