How to Start a Veteran-Owned Business

how to start a veteran owned business

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 338,000 veteran-owned businesses in the United States¹. Collectively, they employ 3.9 million employees and generate $948 billion in sales receipts each year¹. Veteran-owned businesses are positively impacting small towns and big cities nationwide, creating jobs and fueling our nation’s economy.

Whether you are a veteran, reservist, or active-duty service member who dreams of becoming an entrepreneur, now is a great time. Several programs are available to help you with business planning, marketing, networking, financing, etc. This Balboa Capital blog post explains how to start a veteran-owned business.

Step 1: Come up with a business idea.

You are not alone if you want to own a business but do not know where to start. Many veterans have been in the same situation before starting their business ventures. So, write down a list of things you are interested in which might translate into a good business idea.

Once you have narrowed down your list and selected your favorites, decide your primary motivation. For example, do you want a part-time business or a full-time business? Do you want to start small and be a big cash-flow-positive business? Do you have an exit strategy, such as selling or merging your business in 5-7 years? The last step of this process is to choose the best idea for your veteran-owned business so you can begin the planning phase.

You were taught to follow orders in the military on your first day of basic training. This continued throughout your tenure and helped you finish tasks and projects quickly and without surprises. When starting a veteran-owned small business, you should continue following orders, only this time from a business attorney.

A lawyer can help trademark your business name, register your business with the local and state government, draft customer contracts and employment agreements, and help you choose the best corporate structure, to name just a few. In addition, a business attorney can provide good strategic advice to help you mitigate personal and financial risk.

Step 3: Write a business plan.

The cornerstone of your veteran-owned small business is a complete plan that explains how you will launch and grow your small business. Your plan should contain a mission statement, executive profile, business name, business description, competitive analysis, and marketing plan. Additionally, you should include a section that outlines your financial information, including budgets, cash flow projections, and monthly sales forecasts for up to three years.

Step 4: Use your military skills.

As a veteran, you have learned many skills during your time in uniform, and they can transfer to your role as a small business owner. Things like leadership, respect, loyalty, teamwork, problem-solving, and resiliency can prepare you for entrepreneurial success, even if you do not have any prior business experience.

These skills and traits will prove invaluable when negotiating contracts, working with consultants, hiring and training employees, and talking to customers or vendors.

Step 5: Obtain capital.

To get your small business off the ground, you need capital. Otherwise, you will not be able to stock up on inventory, purchase equipment, hire employees, or cover the costs of daily business expenses. Well, do not worry. You have many financing options, such as Veteran’s Administration (VA) business loans, veteran small business grants, bank loans, Small Business Administration (SBA) microloans, and small business loans for veterans.

The loan requirements will differ from lender to lender, so do your homework online to determine the best option based on your individual needs, budget, and time frame. You will have a better chance of qualifying if you have a solid personal credit score and minimal debt. So, stay on top of your bills and avoid making late payments.


Balboa Capital, a Division of Ameris Bank, is not affiliated with nor endorses the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, or the Small Business Administration. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.