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As a veteran business owner, harnessing the right tools and connections is vital for your business’s growth. Tailored programs, specialized financing, and supportive networks exist to leverage your military experience in the business landscape. Discover practical resources, precise funding opportunities, and dynamic veteran entrepreneur communities that can fortify your business journey.


Key Takeaways

  • Veteran entrepreneurs have access to a variety of specialized resources and programs, such as those offered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Small Business Administration’s Boots to Business program, and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families.

  • Financial opportunities for veteran-owned businesses are ample, ranging from micro-grants to larger funding competitions and SBA loans, with particular support for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses in obtaining government contracts.

  • Successful veteran-owned businesses can leverage networking, community support, government resources, and the unique skills acquired through military service, consistently applying strategic planning and building robust business plans.

Empowering Veteran Entrepreneurs: Key Programs and Initiatives

The journey to entrepreneurship begins with the right tools and resources. Fortunately, various programs and initiatives are specifically designed to empower veteran entrepreneurs. For instance, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Veterans Innovation and Entrepreneurship program provides resources and insights into launching, growing, and protecting a business, with a focus on trademarks and branding. This program also offers opportunities to learn from veteran innovators and access tailored resources such as training and mentoring.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) also plays a pivotal role in educating veterans on business ownership, connecting them with valuable SBA resources through custom courses available in in-person and online formats, specifically designed for small business owners.

On the other hand, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) has expanded its scope by acquiring Bunker Labs, thus offering improved support and increased opportunities for veteran and military-spouse entrepreneurs.

Boots to Business

When it comes to transitioning to entrepreneurship, the Boots to Business program is a godsend for service members. This free, two-step education and training program offered by the SBA begins with a two-day, in-person training that provides foundational knowledge necessary for business ownership.

But the learning doesn’t stop there. Participants can further advance their entrepreneurial skills with follow-up courses such as ‘B2B: Revenue Readiness’ available online through Mississippi State University. Moreover, the Boots to Business Reboot extends the program’s reach to those who do not have access to a military installation, ensuring wider accessibility.

Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program

Government contracts can be a significant source of revenue for businesses, especially for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program is designed to help qualifying veteran entrepreneurs obtain such contracts, supported by specific policies targeting economic opportunities for them in federal contracting.

To be eligible for the program, participants must own at least 51% of a business and have a service-connected disability, as verified by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The federal government is committed to awarding at least 3% of all federal contracting dollars each year to small businesses owned by service disabled veterans as part of its initiatives to support these businesses.

Financial Opportunities for Veteran-Owned Businesses

While having a robust business plan and support network is crucial, securing the necessary funding is equally important in ensuring the success of your business. But the good news is, there are numerous financial opportunities available to veteran-owned businesses. These range from the Bizee Fresh Start Business Grant to the Southern California Job Creators Grant, offering awards from micro-grants to larger funding up to $100,000.

Apart from grants, veteran entrepreneurs can also participate in the following competitions for additional grant opportunities:

  • Military Entrepreneur Challenge by the Second Service Foundation

  • Warrior Rising’s development program

  • Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur-Lab pitch competition

Grants for Veterans

Several grants are specifically tailored for veteran-owned businesses. Programs like the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund and the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest offer financial support to veterans, enabling them to kickstart or expand their business ventures.

More opportunities abound with the following grant programs:

  • Bizee Fresh Start Business Grant

  • Venmo Small Business Grant program

  • Military Entrepreneur Challenge

  • Texas Woman’s University Veteran Woman Entrepreneur Grant

These programs provide financial incentives and support, focusing on veteran entrepreneurs and their spouses, and female veterans in Texas, respectively.

SBA Loans for Veterans

Loans can serve as a significant source of funding for businesses, especially for startups that need an initial capital infusion. The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides veteran entrepreneurs with access to comprehensive support, including:

  • Funding programs

  • Training

  • Federal contracting opportunities

  • Expert advice

One such funding option is the SBA microloan, offering up to $50,000. This is designed to be an accessible funding option for newer, smaller veteran-owned businesses. However, to be considered for eligibility, veteran entrepreneurs seeking SBA loans are required to have good credit and demonstrate strong revenue.

Networking and Community Support for Veteran Business Owners

Building a successful business is not just about having a solid business plan and adequate funding. It’s also about building meaningful connections and nurturing relationships within the business ecosystem. In this regard, networking and community support play a crucial role in the success of veteran-owned businesses.

Veteran entrepreneurs can leverage platforms like the Veterans In Business Network and the Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur-Lab, which offer a wealth of networking opportunities. The Veterans In Business Network conducts an annual Veteran Business Survey to capture the needs of veteran entrepreneurs, which directly informs the adaptation of networking and support services.

Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF)

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) is a crucial support system for veteran entrepreneurs. In 2023, the IVMF expanded its offerings to assist veteran entrepreneurs with dedicated programs.

The IVMF supports the military community through various initiatives, including:

  • The Onward to Opportunity program for career transition

  • The Veterans in Politics Program to engage in civic leadership

  • The IGNITE program that fosters entrepreneurship among veterans

In addition to these, IVMF collaborates with SBA’s Resource Partners such as SCORE Mentors, Women’s Business Centers, and more, to provide a comprehensive support network for veteran business owners.

Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE)

For female veterans and military spouses, the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) program is a godsend. This comprehensive program equips participants with the necessary skills to become successful entrepreneurs, offering a 15-day online course, a three-day residency program, and a subsequent 12-month period of ongoing support.

The V-WISE program has nurtured a robust network of fellow entrepreneurs with over 3,400 graduates, 81% of whom are actively operating their businesses. Continually enhancing its offerings, V-WISE maintains a strong commitment to providing service-oriented training, mentorship, and resources for women veterans in entrepreneurship.

Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP)

Securing federal contracts is another way for businesses to boost their revenue. The Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) offers training programs specifically designed for veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses. These programs aim to assist participants in securing contracts from the federal government. With the federal government aims in mind, VIP also offers educational events, networking opportunities, and community support.

In 2023, VIP offered five distinct programs for applications from veteran-owned small businesses, each specialized to meet the needs of businesses at various stages of their development.

Government Resources and Assistance for Veteran-Owned Businesses

Government resources and assistance can be a boon for veteran-owned businesses. From federal surplus property acquisition to tailored resources, the government provides several programs and initiatives to support veteran entrepreneurs. One such resource is the Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), which provides:

  • Webinars

  • Training sessions

  • Small-business liaisons

  • The Veteran Entrepreneur Portal

  • Funding and franchising opportunities

  • Government contracts

  • Networking connections

These resources can be invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their businesses.

Apart from federal resources, state and local governments also offer unique programs for veteran-owned businesses. These programs provide specialized resources and support, and sometimes even offer:

  • reduced fees

  • expedited services

  • certifications for veteran-owned businesses (available in certain states) that can make them more competitive and visible in the marketplace.

Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)

The Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) provides the following services to assist veterans in navigating the federal procurement landscape:

  • Strategic outreach

  • Communications

  • Educational sessions

  • Facilitating access to procurement decision makers

OSDBU supports small and disadvantaged veteran businesses by engaging with them at outreach events and conferences to strengthen their procurement readiness and aid them in selling products and services to the VA. Additionally, veteran-owned small businesses have an avenue to acquire federal surplus personal property through the General Services Administration’s Federal Surplus Personal Property Donation Program.

Tips and Strategies for a Successful Veteran-Owned Business

Veteran business owner developing a solid business plan

Now that we’ve explored the resources available for veteran entrepreneurs let’s delve into some practical tips and strategies for running a successful veteran-owned business. These strategies include:

  • Strategic planning

  • Developing a solid business plan

  • Building a strong support network

  • Leveraging military skills in business

Successful businesses are not built overnight. They require meticulous planning, careful execution, and most importantly, a readiness to seize opportunities for growth. Veteran entrepreneurs, with their unique set of skills and experiences, are well-positioned to navigate the complexities of the business world and achieve their entrepreneurial dreams.

Developing a Solid Business Plan

A detailed business plan serves as a roadmap for your business. It provides a clear direction for daily operations and becomes a critical tool when seeking funding. A solid business plan for a veteran-owned enterprise should encapsulate:

  • The business goals

  • Target market insights

  • Competitive analysis

  • Detailed financial projections

Veterans often have a distinct advantage in creating effective business plans due to their skills in strategic planning and execution. Educational programs tailored for veteran business owners, like the IVMF, provide essential knowledge in diverse areas of business ownership, which aids in developing comprehensive business plans.

Building a Strong Support Network

In the business world, relationships are key. Building a strong support network can significantly contribute to the success of your business. Veterans’ background in teamwork and community service positions them well for networking and team-building in their business ventures.

The pre-existing network of military veterans can be a significant asset in:

  • Attracting customers

  • Accessing capital

  • Forging partnerships

  • Recruiting staff

Engaging with fellow veteran business owners and industry professionals can create valuable partnerships and lead to unique opportunities that offer a competitive edge.

Leveraging Military Skills in Business

Veterans possess a unique set of skills forged through their military experience. Some of these skills include:

  • Discipline

  • Determination

  • Leadership

  • Problem-solving

  • Adaptability

These skills serve as a strong foundation for veteran entrepreneurs when facing the challenges of business ownership.

Skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving, honed during military service, are essential for business owners to navigate the complexities and daily challenges in the business environment. A solid business idea can greatly benefit from these valuable skills, especially when applied to daily business operations.


In conclusion, the journey to entrepreneurship for veterans, while challenging, is paved with rich resources and opportunities. From key programs and initiatives to financial opportunities, networking, and community support, and government resources, there are numerous avenues available to support and empower veteran entrepreneurs.

Remember, the key to a successful veteran-owned business lies not just in accessing these resources but in effectively leveraging them. This involves strategic planning, developing a solid business plan, building a strong support network, and most importantly, leveraging your unique military skills in your business. As you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, let these resources and strategies guide you, and may your business flourish!

Frequently Asked Questions


Why do veterans make good business owners?

Veterans make good business owners because they are trained to lead and motivate others, set goals, delegate tasks, and build strong teams, making them essential for spearheading successful businesses.

Can a 100% VA disability own a business?

Yes, a 100% VA disability recipient can own a business without any income restrictions.

Are there benefits to being a veteran owned business?

Yes, being a veteran owned business can provide benefits such as access to government contracts and support through programs like VetCert, administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

What is the purpose of the Boots to Business program?

The purpose of the Boots to Business program is to provide free education and training for service members looking to transition to entrepreneurship through a two-step program offered by the SBA. Through in-person training and online courses, participants gain foundational business knowledge.

What services do Veteran Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs) offer?

Veteran Business Outreach Centers offer a range of services, including business plan workshops, concept assessments, mentorship, and training to support the development and growth of veteran-led businesses. These services are designed to provide comprehensive support for veteran entrepreneurs.