Resources for Veteran Entrepreneurs

As of the latest U.S. Census count in 2012, there were approximately 1.7 million veteran business owners, accounting for roughly 9% of all business owners in the U.S. This makes sense since many of the skills learned in the military can be directly applied to the business world. Self-motivation and leadership are just two that come to mind that can be particularly important to starting and running a business. Below you’ll find expert advice in the form of webinars, podcasts and more, on how to successfully run and grow a veteran-owned business.

Becoming an Eligible Veteran-Owned Business

In order to become a certified veteran-owned business (VOB), a venture must meet the following criteria:

  • Your enterprise must be classified as a small business under the North American Industry Classification Code System (NAICS) code
  • A veteran must unconditionally own 51% of the venture
  • The veteran business owner must control the management and daily operations of the venture
  • A veteran must hold the highest officer position in the venture
  • If you want your business to be classified as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small-Business Concern, then you must have a service-connected disability that has been verified by the Department of Veteran Affairs

Growing Your Business While Mitigating Risk

Growth is a goal for many veteran small business owners and entrepreneurs. As a company grows, it may be necessary to help mitigate risks and in some cases the more a company grows, the greater the risk involved. This can be a challenging cycle for some business owners to address and overcome. Most veteran business owners are no strangers to challenges, but everyone could use some help along the way; here are a few things to keep in mind while planning for growth.

1) Keep Your Business Credit File Up-To-Date and On Track

For many veteran business owners, the opportunity for growth may come in the form of landing a contract with a large corporation or with the government. When these organizations are deciding which company to award the contract to, they may take into consideration an applicant’s Dun & Bradstreet business credit report. This may be in addition to checking to make sure the company is indeed veteran-owned and reviewing any other required documentation. Checking D&B® scores and ratings may help those making contracting decisions act with confidence about the potential supplier’s stability and discipline to fulfill the contract.

Another step toward growth may be securing outside funding.  Some use an influx of cash to fulfill existing orders, cover capital expenditures, or address a range of other needs that may contribute to growth. Many traditional lenders may also pull an applicant’s D&B® business credit report as part of the approval process. A strong business credit file may also help a business negotiate better terms and conditions, not only with lenders, but also with other vendors or landlords when looking to expand or get in a new physical space.

construction-main-icon3 Tip: Work to help ensure that your business credit file reflects your credibility before it’s pulled in the application process. An easy way to do this is to help make sure your business credit file information is up-to-date. To help impact your D&B business credit file, you should consider signing up for CreditBuilder™ offered by Dun & Bradstreet.

2) Choose Your Partners Wisely (With the Help of Information)

Frequently, the more a company grows, the more it may interact with and rely on other partners and organizations. Two examples of these types of relationships include company’s suppliers and clients. As a veteran business owner, you’ll want to work with the most reliable vendors and customers.

When you rely on other companies to deliver a product or service, you should choose these partners wisely. Beyond having the goods you need and being a company that’s easy to do business with, you might also want to consider their financial stability. If a potential or existing supplier has poor business credit scores and ratings, they might be a potential risk for closure or non-delivery.

When partnering with new clients, it can be important to know about their payment history and check their business credit report to help assess their financial health. There are different strategic considerations to keep in mind if you are waiting 90 days for a payment as opposed to 30 days.

construction-main-icon3 Tip: Whether you’re getting supplies from a company or supplying to them, it can be helpful to monitor their D&B business credit file so that you can plan accordingly. This information may be accessed through CreditAdvisor™.

3) Get Informed About the People and Organizations you are Approaching

When forming a new business relationship, it can be beneficial to do some research on the company. Getting the basic information, like strategic goals and company history, to the more nuanced, like the backgrounds of key individuals, may help you plan for the type of meeting you want to have as well as help ensure that you are prepared for a range of conversations. You only get one shot at a first impression and research may be one of the best ways to make the most of that opportunity.

construction-main-icon3 Tip: If you want to research beyond general Internet searches, hoovers.com has data and information on a range of organizations.

Targeting Set-Aside Opportunities

Some Fortune 500 companies award millions of dollars per year in exclusive contracts and subcontracts to underrepresented suppliers — typically, women, minorities, and veterans. But it isn’t always easy for veteran business owners to identify private sector set-asides. Unlike the government, Fortune 500 companies do not necessarily publicize their set-aside targets, in part because pressing financial concerns may cause them to deviate from their stated goals. To discover veteran set-asides in your industry, contact the U.S. Small Business Administration or the Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Concern Procurement Program.

Boots to Business

Operation Boots to Business is a U.S. Small Business Administration-sponsored global program offered as a component of the Department of Defense’s transition assistance program (TAP). The goal of TAP is to help strengthen former active-duty service members transition from military to civilian life, and to prepare them for success in the private sector.

Currently, there are three optional tracks offered under the TAP banner: educational training, technical training, and Boots to Business, a comprehensive entrepreneurship training program operated by the SBA and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families.

Three Steps to Success

Boots to Business is a three-step training program developed to introduce and train transitioning service members who express an interest in owning and operating their own businesses. Boots to Business provides vets with access to a rigorous, standardized entrepreneurship training track, as well as various small-business resources in their local communities.

Graduating service members will have the skills and knowledge to draft a business plan, connect with other vetrepreneurs and potential business partners, and launch a small business venture. To participate in the program, transitioning service members should contact their local Small Business Administration office or their TAP coordinator. Interested vets will be required to complete an online 2-day intensive workshop before enrolling in the program.

Webinars

Mastering the GSA Schedule

Learn what you need to know about GSA schedules from Scott Davidson of GOVCON OPS, so you better understand government contracting.

Suspension & Debarment Pitfalls

If you contract with the government but aren’t in compliance with regulations, you can become suspended or disbarred from contracting. Heed the advice of these experts to keep your veteran-owned business in good standing.

Leveraging Veteran-Owned Status to Help Win Government Contracts

Learn how you can leverage your status as a veteran business owner to help get government contracts.

Podcasts

Veteran Entrepreneurs: Certification, Contracting & Legal Issues

2016 Opportunities for Veteran Entrepreneurs

Other Resources

There are also many different organizations that offer assistance to Veteran business owners:

Working With The Government

Help From the SBA

 Help For Service-Disabled Veterans

Additional Resources

Featured Photo Credit: three tails, Twenty20