There are an astonishing 18.2 million military veterans in the United States, and many veterans go on to use a different skill set and open their own business.
The good news is, veterans, veterans with disabilities, and reservists can raise capital through loans and grants just like other small businesses do. You can invest this money into the growth of your company or use it to purchase new equipment.
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It could be your chance to start or improve your dream business; however, it requires hard work and a lot of organization. Understand the options available to veteran-owned businesses and find out how to benefit from these loans and grants.
Who Can Apply?
Before pursuing federal or private veteran grants, you must make sure that you are eligible. To qualify, you will need to fall into one of these categories:
- Honorably discharged veterans
- Service-disabled Veterans
- National Guard members
- An active member of the military service participating in the Transition Assistance Program (TAP)
- Current spouse of any veteran, reservist, or member of the National Guard
- A widowed spouse of a serviceman who died during service or was victimized by a disability related to military service
After confirming your status, it’s important to think about your loan’s purpose (short or long-term investments) and how much money you need. This will determine the best place to look for resources.
Currently, the most comprehensive loan guarantee program for veterans is offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), with the lowest interest rates and the most favorable loan terms.
In 2020, the CARES Act was created as one of the economic relief measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s aimed at military and civilian candidates and offers resources to keep a small business’s payroll.
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Many different programs also help with training on the fundamentals of business activity. There are several options for veterans:
- Boots to Business– This is a free business program offered in an online format. For those just starting in the business world, the training curriculum includes the steps to create and develop a business plan, which is needed in the search for any loan later on.
- Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE)– This program offers training exclusively to veteran women or wives of military and veteran service members.
- Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV)– Offers training for veterans with disabilities who want to start their small business or improve an existing one.
Different small business grants are available for veteran business owners. You can stay updated on these opportunities through GrantWatch, a website where you can find all federal, regional, and local grants for veteran-owned businesses in one place. Other popular grant opportunities are:
- Warrior Rising Small Business Grants– Warrior Rising is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting veterans turned business people. It offers grants to help cover business expenses. To apply, you need to become a member of the organization and complete a virtual course.
- Nav’s Small Business Grant– Nav is an online business company offering a $10,000 grant called “Legitify Your Small Business.” Click here to find out how and when to apply.
- The National Association for the Self-Employed Growth Grants– NASE offers small grants of up to $4,000 to veteran-owned businesses. The goal is to help small companies in advertising, expansion, hiring, and training. You must become a member of the association to apply.
Tips for Applying
Applying for a grant is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. Eligibility requirements vary, so be sure to do your research before applying.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services provides a complete list of how to complete your application. There are several basics you need to keep in mind:
- Prepare your application well in advance
- Be concise and clear in your proposal
- Use tables, graphics, images, and other attachments only if necessary
- Check everything to prevent spelling and grammatical errors
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Securing Grants Shouldn’t Be a Battle
In 2018, more than 300,000 veteran-owned businesses represented 5.9 percent of all companies operating in the United States, with an estimated revenue of $ 947.7 billion and approximately 3.9 million employees.
Veteran business owners have a significant presence in the business landscape, and this is reflected in a large number of opportunities for loans, grants, and free training. After years of defending the nation, this return is more than deserved.
At first glance, obtaining grants is not a simple task. This doesn’t mean that it is impossible, and veterans have certainly faced more challenging tasks before. You just need to understand the grants available, know the requirements, and start applying.