While U.S. military veterans are subject to small business loan qualifiers just like any other potential small business owner, the U.S. Small Business Administration has special provisions in place exclusively for vets. The SBA, along with state Veteran’s Business Outreach Centers, provides specialized mentoring, educational and small-business advising services to vets. The SBA periodically offers special low-interest rate loan backing for qualified vets. Regular updates and eligibility requirements can be found in the SBA link in the Resources section of this article.
Operation Boots to Business
The SBA sponsors Boots to Business: From Service to Startup, a program of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program that’s available through the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. The 3-step training program teaches veterans entrepreneurial skills and helps them connect with small business resources in their own communities. Training involves key issues related to seeking small business funding, such as learning how to identify viable business opportunities, develop a business plan and apply for grants, small business loans or venture capital funding.
Veterans Business Outreach Centers
The SBA’s Veteran’s Business Outreach Program operates Veteran’s Business Outreach Centers in 16 states. The centers provide a range of resources to help vets get funding for small business ventures and provide referrals for eligible veterans who want to start or expand a business. Vets in states without such centers can contact local SCORE and Small Business Development Centers to obtain free and low-cost advice and counseling on how to analyze the viability of business ideas, research business trends and develop funding proposals.
U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs operates an online Veteran Entrepreneur Portal that helps connect vets to a wide range of small business loan opportunities. The portal lets users input details about the type of business they want to fund and then provides a list of current veteran-friendly loans and lenders. The site also provides links to other small business resources, such as government contracting opportunities.
Loan Requirements and Preparation
Veterans are subject to the same requirements as other small business owners when applying for loans. These include a strong credit history, a well-designed business plan and marketing strategy and research that demonstrates the business idea is viable and potentially profitable. The SBA provides resources, including loan preparation instructions and a loan checklist, to help ensure applications are accurate and complete.