Table of Contents
- Small Business Loans for Military Veterans
- Office of Veteran Business Development Overview
- Boots to Business
- Boots to Business Reboot (B2BR)
- Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) Program
- Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP)
- Resources for Female Veterans
- Service-Disabled Veterans Small Business Loans
- StreetShares – Small Business Loans for Veterans
- Small Business Loans for Military Spouses
For many veterans and soon-to-be retirees, the idea of opening a business helps combine the years of leadership skills they’ve developed in the military with the ability to be their own boss. But for many in the military community, knowing where to start can be difficult.
This guide can show you some of the options that are available to you as a military veteran or a military spouse.
Small Business Loans for Military Veterans
We’ll break this guide into two parts – one covering small business loan options for military veterans, and one covering options for military spouses. Some of these programs are run by the government, while others are operated by non-profit groups or private organizations. As always, do your research to fund the best option for you and your business.
Office of Veteran Business Development Overview
While the VA doesn’t provide loans for businesses, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has a specific loan program for veterans. The program is managed by the SBA, in conjunction with the Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD).
OVBD wants to ensure that small business programs are available to members of our military community, their dependents, or survivors. OVBD serves as a SBA liaison with the veteran business community. It aims to assist aspiring and existing veteran entrepreneurs with resources they need, like training, counseling, and mentorship.
SBA programs are designed to help veterans succeed. These programs feature customized curriculums as well as in-person and online coursework. OVBD is also responsible for the oversight of federal procurement programs for Veteran-Owner and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses.
Veterans, servicemembers, and military spouses can all take advantage of the following programs.
Boots to Business
Boots to Business (B2B) is a training and entrepreneurial education program offered by the SBA as part of the DoD’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP). B2B gives participants in the program an overview of business ownership. It’s open to all service members transitioning out of the military and their spouses. B2B is generally offered at installation as part of TAP briefings. However, if you’re unable to access an installation, the B2BR might be best suited for you.
Boots to Business Reboot is similar in its structure and intended function as B2B – except that it happens in person near installations, rather than part of TAP out-processing.
Boots to Business Reboot (B2BR)
This is a one- or two-day in-person course that’s offered to provide participants with an overview of business fundamentals. B2BR classes introduce techniques for evaluating business concepts’ feasibility to help veterans, spouses, and survivors explore business ownership and self-employment opportunities.
Participants are introduced to a broad spectrum of entrepreneurial concepts and resources are available to help access start-up capital, technical assistance, and contracting opportunities. Registration is simple, and courses are held in-person throughout the country. B2BR recommends checking with local offices before registering for as long as COVID-19 impacts in-person gatherings.
Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) Program
The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) Program connects veterans interested in starting or growing a small business with the resources they need to be successful. Entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling, and resource referrals are provided to servicemembers, veterans, National Guard, and Reserve members, as well as military spouses.
From pre-business plan workshops to concept assessments, VBOCs help clients develop and maintain five-year business plans and offer a comprehensive feasibility analysis to help veterans understand whether or not their plan is a good one. VBOC also provides entrepreneurial training and counseling by working with other SBA resource partners. These tailored training sessions address the needs and concerns of service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs. VBOC coverage is split into regions, and detailed information can be found on the individual websites.
Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP)
VIP, the National Center for Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP), is a veteran entrepreneurship program that specifically targets the procurement of federal contracts. VIP offers three accelerator-in-residence educational training programs for owners, principals, and C-level executives (CEOs, CFOs, etc.) of veteran-owned small businesses (VOSB) and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSM).
Instructors of VIP courses are professional service experts, government officials, and federal agency representatives who understand the unique challenges for VOSMs and SDVOSMs owners. These programs are offered at no charge to the military community, but fill up quickly, so advanced registration is required.
Within the VIP program are three training tracks:
- VIP Start – Designed for veteran-owned businesses to enter or expand their businesses into the federal marketplace
- VIP Grow – Designed for to help VOSB become competitive when bidding for government contracts
- VIP International – Designed for VSOBs aiming to enter federal and commercial contracting opportunities overseas
All VIP programs use real-time, market-based instruction tailored to accelerate VOSM success.
Resources for Female Veterans
The Women Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program (WVETP) offers training to female veterans, servicemembers, and female spouses of servicemembers/veterans as they begin to grow a business. SVA helps fund these programs through grantees from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF)’s Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship and the Lift Fund. Both of these organizations understand that female business owners face a specific set of challenges.
Service-Disabled Veterans Small Business Loans
Service-Disabled Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program (SDVETP) offers funded (AKA FREE) training programs through several partnerships with experiential training programs, including the IVMF Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, the Veteran’s Entrepreneurship Program through the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University, and the St. Joseph’s University Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans. These programs, although free, do require those interested to apply for spots within the programs so be sure to take a look at the requirements.
The Veteran Owned Small Business Growth Training Program is a no-cost peer-to-peer training program to help veteran-owned small businesses grow their professional network and presence. More information can be found here. Additional information relating to resource partners and information on small business loans for Reserve and National Guard members can also be found on the OVBD page.
StreetShares – Small Business Loans for Veterans
StreetShares is an organization that offers small business loans and lines of credit to the military community.
Unlike some organizations, these loans are not designed for starting a business. Loans through StreetShares are for companies that are already in operation. To be eligible for a loan or a business line of credit through StreetShares, your business must also have been in operation for at least a year before applying and you need a minimum of $75,000 per year in annual business revenue to qualify.
Small Business Loans for Military Spouses
As one of the most transient employment sectors in the civilian workforce, military spouses are constantly faced with reinventing their careers and repurposing their skillsets. For this reason, military spouses make excellent entrepreneurs. Small business ownership can be transportable, while remaining flexible. OVBD provides the same counseling, training, and access to capital for military spouses as it does for servicemembers and veterans.
Military spouses are eligible to take the same SBA-led training programs, free of charge. OVBS will also help connect military spouses with other spouse business owners and DoD-certified career counselors through the Military Spouses and Entrepreneurship group on LinkedIn.
To help prepare military spouses for government contract bidding, SBA and OVBS offer specific military spouse training, including resources relating to women-owned small businesses, 8(a) (mentor-protege) businesses, and HUBZone businesses that operate in underserved communities.
In addition to these community-specific programs, SBA and OVBD also have curated specific training programs for groups within the broader military community.