Financing and Other Opportunities for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
Any veteran and/or retired service member knows that the transition to civilian life can be a difficult transition. There are bills to pay, and they quickly learn that the pension and separation pay is slowly drying up. Fortunately, there are multiple programs available so you can start your own business or gain the skills to get a career job in a field of industry you love.
According to the Small Businesses Administration, veterans own about 2.45 million of small businesses in the US. That’s a measly 8.7% of the total 27.9 businesses in the country. Although a good chunk of them have been successful, the percentage is not nearly enough.
The US Veterans Affairs Office is a rich trove of information, including links to financing assistance, procedures on how to begin dealing with government, starting a business and learning about complex federal contracts.
Assistance for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
The US Department of Veterans Affairs actually has a separate office that addresses the concerns of small businesses, small business training, and small business financing. This is the Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization. The main goal is to assist, provide counsel and give protection to veteran-owned businesses to make sure they thrive and are not swallowed by the competition.
The VA is also working closely with the US Small Business Administration for financing access, capacity training, technology-transfer and contract opportunities for federal projects. Both the VA and the SBA also provides assistance to those who want to start their own businesses.
Help from Non-Profits Organizations
In the same vein, non-profits also have similar programs that assist veterans in business development. For instance, Score.org provides mentorship to increase the chances of the beneficiaries to succeed. The organization has over 10,000 volunteers so it can easily tap somebody that can match your needs.
VeteransCorp is another organization that facilitates access to financing, technical expertise and other resources for veterans and their families. It also has an extensive mentoring program to help veteran-owned businesses take off.
Meanwhile, WarriorCare focuses on helping the wounded, injured and sick veterans as they reintegrate into society. Aside from education and medical assistance, one program of note is the military caregiver support, which assists the wounded, injured and ill service members in the areas of financing, employment, transportation, psycho-social interventions, and housing.
Small Business Set-Asides for Government Contracts
This is a federal program that mandates government agencies to put a ceiling on some contracts to selected small businesses so they don’t unnecessarily clash with larger companies with a lot of resources. This is not a dole-out. Veteran-owned small business or service-disabled veteran businesses are expected also to compete within the parameters of this program; hence, the term “set-aside.”
It’s intimidating to wade through the complicated world of government procurement, but the Procurement Technical Assistance Center can help veterans through workshops, one-on-one mentoring as well as alerting them if new contracts that match their capabilities are posted.
RELATED ARTICLE: “The Ins & Outs of Set-Asides in Government Contracts”.
Financing for Government Contracts
Account receivable financing or invoice factoring for government contracts are some of the options you can consider on the side of contract financing. In case of cash flow issues, you can free up cash immediately, or quickly release the value of outstanding invoices to as much as 90% within a 24-hour time frame.
With invoice factoring, you still have a say on the sales ledger and are responsible for transaction delegation. In invoice factoring, the financier will control that specific receivable until all invoice obligations are settled or paid in full. There are great benefits to factoring your invoices that help grow your business. Better ask finance professionals like Meridian PO Finance to better explain the factoring process for government contracts.
Finding Business Opportunities
One of the many challenges of newly formed small businesses is finding business opportunities. For newbie veterans who own businesses, there are programs that assist them in this area considering their lack of experience. Such projects include the following:
- Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern Program – this initiative stems from the passing of the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 and aims primarily to assist the business of service-disabled veterans to compete and receive government contracts. Under this program, federal agencies are authorized to set procurements aside for exclusive competition among service-disabled veteran-owned businesses and to award business provided that specified conditions are met.
- Vets First Contracting Program by the Department of Veterans Affairs – this initiative is in line with the Veterans Affairs mission to care for the welfare of US veterans. Through this project, companies owned and controlled by veterans and service-abled veterans that have been verified are accorded the opportunity to compete and win VA procurement contracts.
- VetFran by the International Franchise Association – this program that started in 1991 is useful for veterans who want to start a business venture but do not know what kind of business to explore. Through VetFran a veteran who is keen on owning a franchise is provided with support, education, and financial assistance to start a franchise business. Apart from assisting veterans to start an already established business, the veterans themselves are directly helping the economy not only by contributing to the GDP but by providing employment as well. According to a study carried out by the International Franchise Association Education Foundation, over 800,000 Americans are employed by franchise ventures owned by veterans.
Building Strategic Partnerships
Not all veterans who start their own small business knows how to connect with stakeholders and other partners that can help push their business forward, which is why the Department of Veterans Affairs has an office for this purpose – the Strategic Outreach and Communications for Small Business Utilization.
This office is generally responsible for ensuring that veteran-owned small businesses know how and have access to all initiatives and services that will aid them in increasing their participation not only in government agencies but even among commercial partners. One of the major tasks of this office is to create events and carry out opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses to network and meet procurement decision makers, contracting professionals, and relevant players that will help them to do business with VA in the future.
The US Small Business Administration (SBA) provides numerous online resources that will assist veterans and their dependents who intend to start a small venture as well as vets who have existing small businesses that they intend to develop further such as the Office of Veterans Business Development, Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-Wise) by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, and the National Center for Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP), among others.
With the current economic milieu, and despite various federal programs with the private sector, corporations are still reluctant to hire veterans because of the stigma of PTSD. But former service members and service-disabled veterans can start a business of their own. All it takes is a good idea, and as you can see above, there are countless avenues for assistance that you can tap to boost your business. The US government is the world’s biggest customer. So dealing with the federal government usually means there’s a lot of the proverbial pie to share. In fact, the VA ensures that there’s a piece of a pie just for you.
There are also many alternative financing options available to small business owners whom service the government. For more information about Purchase Order Finance of Invoice Financing, contact Meridian PO Finance at 1-866- 988-6868.