OP-ED: SBA supports Montana's Veteran entrepreneurs and their families
November 3, 2021
It’s no surprise that current and former members of the military make great entrepreneurs.
The resilience, determination, and fortitude they acquired while in uniform was a great training ground for becoming a successful small business owner.
Working in collaboration with our government and community partners, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) plays an important role in supporting service members as they exit the military and become entrepreneurs.
During National Veterans Small Business Week, Nov. 1-5, the country celebrates those veterans, service members, and military spouses that realized their dreams of entrepreneurship.
This year we give special recognition to those veteran business owners that overcame, and recovered, from the hardships caused by the COVID 19 pandemic.
Historically, veterans have been more likely to start a small business than non-veterans. Nearly ten percent of all American businesses are owned by a veteran. Montana is home to more than 91,000 veterans, and many of them see entrepreneurship as a pathway to earning a good living and a way to support their families. Nearly 12,000 Montana veterans have made the jump to small-business ownership.
SBA encourages veterans, and transitioning service members, to utilize its programs and services. Here are five SBA resources veterans can leverage when starting their own business.
1. Transition Assistance: SBA and its resource partners support active duty and transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses through the Boots to Business program, part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program. This program provides free, high level business training to participants.
2. Entrepreneurial Training: Whether you’re a female veteran, service-disabled veteran, or looking to learn business fundamentals, you can tap into SBA’s entrepreneurial training programs for help. Resource partners include Women Business Outreach Centers that assist women in starting and growing small businesses; Small Business Development Centers that offer free, one-on-one counseling and low-cost training services; SCORE a network of thousands of volunteer business counselors around the country that provides free in-person and online counseling as well as educational workshops; and Veteran Business Outreach Centers nationwide which focus their training and counseling resources on veterans and their spouses.
3. Access to Capital: SBA, and its network of resource partners, understand that access to capital may be a barrier for veterans starting or expanding their business. The first step is to find a commercial lender that participates in the SBA’s loan guaranty program. SBA’s Lender Match is a free online referral tool that connects small business owners with SBA participating lenders.
4. Government Contracting: Are you looking to pursue federal government contracting opportunities to help grow your business? SBA and its partners have a number of programs to help veterans access both competitive and non-competitive federal contracts.
5. Your local SBA district office is an excellent place to start your journey in starting or expanding your business. The Montana District Office located in Helena.
Brent Donnelly is the SBA’s Montana district director based in Helena. He oversees the agency’s programs and services across the entire state.