Veterans have been hailed for their acumen in corporate leadership thanks to their experiences in the service that prepare them for the challenges of decision making and even business ownership. With this in mind, and considering the fact that tens of thousands of troops have returned home from overseas in need of employment, it only makes sense that so many organizations and government agencies have pushed to support veterans in their entrepreneurial goals.
The U.S. Small Business Administration estimates that there are roughly 2.4 million veteran-owned firms in the country today, with 5.8 million members of the workforce employed in such companies. There have been several programs launched through the SBA, VA and other government departments to ensure that veterans have all of the tools and financing they need to get their business ideas off the ground and through the challenges of the startup period.
A little perspective
Toledo ABC affiliate 13 Action News recently explained how the programs in place to help veterans get employed or start a business have come a long way. According to the news provider, Gil Goldberg was a serviceman in the Vietnam War and witnessed how difficult trying to be an entrepreneur was decades ago. Now, Goldberg is a district director at the SBA.
"We have special financing programs for veterans and special government contracting programs for veterans and we have technical assistance to help them with their business plan to get started," Goldberg told the source.
He then proceeded to state some of the reasons why loans provided through the SBA's veteran-focused programs are so competitive, including the fact that disbursements ranging from $350,000 to $5 million have their fees reduced by 50 percent. What's more, 13abc noted that the forum Goldberg spoke at brought together minds in various portions of the private sector, including contractors that do work with the military.
Importantly, the news provider pointed out that many veterans do not necessarily know the services and opportunities they are offered through the SBA and other entities, so raising awareness is key to ensure these programs play out effectively and help the servicemember community.
Stories of success
There have been countless veterans who have successfully launched startup companies and cultivated them into successful businesses. Tech Cocktail listed some of these examples, including Paul Sperry, the entrepreneur responsible for the highly popular Sperry Shoes, who was a veteran and eventually manufactured the U.S. Navy's official footwear.
According to the source, there is also Marine Fred Smith who launched FedEx and watched it grow into a $3.7 billion success. Veterans interested in taking advantage of the many programs in place to fund and support their business objectives should consider evaluating those of the SBA first, as they tend to be the most competitive and matured, but can also consult other resources to get more information regarding alternative opportunities.