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Help for Disabled Veterans

You may think that as a Disabled Veteran, that there are no business opportunities out there for you.  That you are destined for unemployment, but this is far from the truth.  As a Disabled Veteran, you have the same history and training as a Non-disabled Veteran and so have the same opportunities as well, and you have the drive to succeed in the face of adversity.  You can succeed in the Entrepreneurial vein, and there are programs out there to help you succeed.

Executive Order 13360 directs that at least 3 percent of all federal agencies’ contracting dollars go to businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. The good news is that agencies are actively seeking service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses as vendors. However, in the past, agencies have not been able to meet their goals in contracting with service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. This is due in large part to the lack of identified service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses in the marketplace. Through outreach and education, GSA‘s Office of Small Business Utilization (OSBU) stands ready to be a pathfinder for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses as they navigate the process of doing business with the federal government.

Federal Business Opportunities are posted at www.fedbizopps.gov, the single governmentwide point-of-entry for federal government procurement opportunities over $25,000.

Questions on the VETS GWAC may be submitted to vetsgwac@gsa.gov or by calling the Small Business GWAC Center toll free at (877) 327-8732. For further information on the VETS GWAC visit the VETS GWAC page.

The shortcut to this page is www.gsa.gov/service-disabled.

Researching Your Business Plan

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There are many differences between being a Veteran business owner, and a Civilian business owner.  These differences can include, but are not limited to,

  • Military training and mindset
  • Drive to succeed
  • Superior work ethic

One thing that does not differ though is the requirement for all those desiring to open their own business.  The Business Plan.  This sometimes daunting task is a must do for every prospective business owner, and can take some time to get complete and correct, but it is worth it.  As it is this plan that banks look at when considering loans, or potential investors read when deciding whether to back you or not.  It is the single most important part of beginning your business.

When approaching your business plan the first and most important thing to consider, is what business you will be opening.

  • What business would be both a good fit for you and the community you will be doing business in?
  • Is there some niche market missing in your area that you would be able to fill
  • Is it possible that the area you are looking into is already saturated with providers of the service you are looking into providing?

The answers to these questions could be some of the most important answers you will need to know for your fledgling business.  For example: how could you thrive as the new HVAC repair in town, if there are already numerous businesses offering the same services?  You have to find your own unique niche market, something which you can offer that no one else is able to provide.

 

After you have decided what service you are going to provide, it is time to start into deeper market research.  It is very unlikely in any area, that you will have no competitors at all, so this is the time that you need to study up on your competition.

  • What goods and services, does your competition offer?
  • Is there any service which they do not offer that you could?
  • What can you offer they community that they cannot?

Once again you must look into finding that one thing that no one else is willing or able to provide to your community.  Let’s say that you are opening a small bookstore, but there is a Big Box Store near by, who also sells books and at a discounted price.  What can the small business do to compete with this Behemoth?  In this example you could offer better customer service (which is the Number One way to succeed in any business) You could order books for individual customers, showing each that they matter to you.  Learn your repeat customers names, and show them that you care.  Always find the one thing, that makes your business stand out from the crowd, and this is what will set your business apart.

 

imagesNow that you have thought deeper about your business, and researched the market you will be opening in, it’s time to start to put everything down on paper.  Make sure that your plan looks as good, as it reads.  Bound well, even if only in a three ring binder, and printed out. Never hand written. Professionalism is the key.  Good luck out there!  And don’t forget that the more you know about the market and business that you are looking to open, the more perspective investors will sit  up and pay attention.

For complete step by step instructions on building your business plan please visit the Small Business Administration  website.

 

 

Small Business Loans for Vets

When it come to funding your small business, as a Veteran, you have several options from which to choose from.  From funding with your own saved capital, to Government subsidized loans, grants, or finding investors who will back your business with their own capital.

When it comes to Government subsidized loans if you are a Veteran and want to start a new business, search out and find the one loan that is right for your situation, and needs.  Do not forget that your application should be genuine and you must be asking for government money for a legitimate reason. You must have a good business plan to present that is backed up by proper market research.

The following links are for Government subsidized loans available to Veteran entrepreneurs like you.  If in your research you come upon one which we have missed please comment with the link so we may add it, to aid others in their search.

 

Patriot Express

The Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative allows lenders with Patriot Express authority to make offers similar to lenders with SBAExpress authority, but the business owner is more limited. To be eligible to receive a Patriot Express Loan, the business must be owned and controlled (51 percent or more) by eligible veterans and members of the military community who want to establish or expand a small business.

 

Eligible military community members include:

  • Veterans
  • Service-disabled veterans
  • Active-duty service members eligible for the military’s Transition Assistance Program
  • Reservists and National Guard members
  • Current spouses of any of the above, including any service member
  • Widowed spouses of service members or veterans who died during service or of a service-connected disability

 

Military Reservists Economic Injury Loans

The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL) provides funds to help an eligible small business meet its ordinary and necessary operating expenses that it could have met, but is unable to, because an essential employee was called-up to active duty in his or her role as a military reservist.

Eligibility and Terms

Businesses with the financial capacity to fund their own recovery are not eligible for MREIDL assistance.  Federal law requires SBA to determine whether a business has credit available elsewhere — that is, if credit in an amount needed to accomplish full recovery is available from non-government sources without creating an undue financial hardship.

The filing period for MREIDL assistance begins on the date the essential employee receives a notice of expected call-up and ends one year after the essential employee is discharged or released from active duty.

Collateral is required for all MREIDL loans more than $50,000. SBA accepts real estate as collateral when it is available. SBA will not decline a loan for lack of collateral, but will require the borrower to pledge collateral that is available.

The MREIDL interest rate is 4 percent and has loan repayment terms up to 30 years. SBA determines the term of each loan in accordance with the borrower’s ability to repay.

SBA provides loans to businesses — not individuals — so the requirements of eligibility are based on aspects of the business, not the owners. As such, the key factors of eligibility are based on what the business does to receive its income, the character of its ownership and where the business operates.

SBA generally does not specify what businesses are eligible. Rather, the agency outlines what businesses are not eligible.  However, there are some universally applicable requirements. To be eligible for assistance, businesses must:

  • Operate for profit
  • Be small, as defined by SBA
  • Be engaged in, or propose to do business in, the United States or its possessions
  • Have reasonable invested equity
  • Use alternative financial resources, including personal assets, before seeking financial assistance
  • Be able to demonstrate a need for the loan proceeds
  • Use the funds for a sound business purpose
  • Not be delinquent on any existing debt obligations to the U.S. government

 

 

10 Veteran Friendly Franchises

As an American Veteran, you have an excellent chance of being able to own your own business.  One of the easiest, and most accepted, ways to break into small business for yourself is to invest in and open your own franchise.  Franchises are much easier way to open your own successful business as you are able to rely on a well none company with an already successful business plan.

The following ten companies are known for being Veteran friendly Franchises, maybe one will be the one for you.

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Matco Tools

Matco Tools is a manufacturer and distributor of quality professional automotive equipment, tools and toolboxes. Through their mobile tool franchise owners they offer over 13,000 products, including hand tools, power tools, diagnostics, tool storage, heavy-duty tools, shop equipment, OEM-specified service tools and much more

  • Offers Discounted Franchise Fee
  • Website had Military Recruitment Page
  • Financing Assistance to Military Veteran Franchises
  • Team Dedicated to Supporting your Veteran Franchise Program

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Re-Bath LLC

Re-Bath is the world’s largest full bathroom remodeler

  • Offers Discounted Franchise Fee
  • Financing Assistance To Military Veteran Franchisees
  • Financing Assistance To Military Veteran Franchisees

 

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Liberty Tax Service

Liberty Tax Service is the fastest-growing retail tax preparation company in the industry’s history.  Founded in 1997 by CEO John T. Hewitt, a pioneer in the tax industry, Liberty Tax Service has prepared over 10,000,000 individual income tax returns, and has over 4100 offices in the United States and Canada.

  • Implemented Programs For Educating and Recruiting Veteran Franchises
  • Efforts To Promote Current Military Veteran Franchisees To Consumers
  • Financing Assistance To Military Veteran Franchisees
  • Assistance When A Franchisee Is Called Up For Guard Or Reserve Duty

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The UPS Store

With nearly 4,700 locations in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, The UPS Store® and Mail Boxes Etc. network comprises the world’s largest franchise system of retail shipping, postal, printing and business service centers.

  • Offers Discounted Franchise Fee
  • Website Has Military Recruitment Page
  • Implemented Programs For Educating and Recruiting Veteran Franchises
  • Efforts To Promote Current Military Veteran Franchisees To Consumers
  • Financing Assistance To Military Veteran Franchisees
  • Team Dedicated To Supporting Your Veteran Franchisee Program

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Godfather’s Pizza

Godfather’s Pizza , founded in 1973, is a family friendly restaurant company offering a wide range of high quality products.  We believe in serving the best pizza in the industry while treating our guests like family.  We offer three different franchise opportunities, Express, Delivery-only/Carry-out,  and Traditional units.  Based on the demographics and the amount of money you want to invest, we will find which option best fits your needs.

  • Offers Discounted Franchise Fee
  • Website Has Military Recruitment Page
  • Team Dedicated To Supporting Your Veteran Franchisee Program

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Anytime Fitness

Anytime Fitness is the #1 co-ed fitness club franchise in the world.  Anytime Fitness now has more than 2,000 clubs open in all 50 states and a dozen countries serving nearly 2-million members worldwide.

  • Offers Discounted Franchise Fee
  • Website Has Military Recruitment Page
  • Efforts To Promote Current Military Veteran Franchisees To Consumers
  • Financing Assistance To Military Veteran Franchisees
  • Assistance When A Franchisee Is Called Up For Guard Or Reserve Duty
  • Team Dedicated To Supporting Your Veteran Franchisee Program

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Merry Maids

Merry Maids is a recognized name in the home cleaning business with over 30 years of franchising experience. Excellent support services, training and marketing to the ever increasing dual-family work force.

  • Offers Discounted Franchise Fee
  • Financing Assistance To Military Veteran Franchisees
  • Assistance When A Franchisee Is Called Up For Guard Or Reserve Duty

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TSS Photography

TSS Photography has been the leader in Youth Sports, School and Event Photography since 1983. Our unique home-based franchise opportunity offers comprehensive in-field and classroom training, national alliances, a Marketing Growth Fund, Franchisee Advisory Panels, over 250 innovative products and much more all in a recession-resistant business. TSS offers a fun home-based business involving sports and children with no royalties!   TSS participates in IFA’s VetFran program offering veterans a 25% discount on franchise fees for most plan sizes.

  • Offers Discounted Franchise Fee
  • Offers Other Franchise Fee Discounts to Military Veteran Franchisees
  • Efforts To Promote Current Military Veteran Franchisees To Consumers
  • Assistance When A Franchisee Is Called Up For Guard Or Reserve Duty
  • Team Dedicated To Supporting Your Veteran Franchisee Program
  • Considered a portable home-based business

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Huddle House

Serving guests “Any Meal, Any Time” since 1964, Huddle House is a full service, quick casual family restaurant, serving delicious meals cooked to order … a place where hungry folks gather to enjoy good food, good friends, and good hospitality in a warm and friendly environment.

  • Offers Discounted Franchise Fee
  • Offers Other Franchise Fee Discounts to Military Veteran Franchisees
  • Assistance When A Franchisee Is Called Up For Guard Or Reserve Duty
  • Team Dedicated To Supporting Your Veteran Franchisee Program

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7-Eleven

With 7-Eleven®, you can enjoy being part of one of the world’s strongest brands. With close to 49,500 stores in 16 countries and more than 10,000 in North America alone,  7-Eleven® is the world’s leading convenience retailer, and is still growing. 2011 was the strongest growth year for 7-Eleven® since 1986, and in 2013 7-Eleven® is planning on adding hundreds of stores in the U.S. and Canada, and thousands worldwide. Our brand is recognized and trusted around the globe. On average, a new 7-Eleven® store opens every three and a half hours.

  • Offers Discounted Franchise Fee
  • Offers Other Franchise Fee Discounts to Military Veteran Franchisees
  • Website Has Military Recruitment Page
  • Implemented Programs For Educating and Recruiting Veteran Franchises
  • Efforts To Promote Current Military Veteran Franchisees To Consumers
  • Financing Assistance To Military Veteran Franchisees
  • Team Dedicated To Supporting Your Veteran Franchisee Program

 

 

 

If none of these businesses are what you are searching for please click here for the complete list of Veteran friendly Franchises.

 

 

Veterans Succeeding in Todays Marketplace

It has been said time and time again, that a Veteran’s work ethic, is much greater than a civilian’s.  Though training, and experience, they know what hard work and dedication can bring to them.  After coming home from active duty, so many of today’s Veteran’s find themselves sitting at home unemployed in today’s tight job market.  Now more than ever, these Veteran’s are turning to self employment, and entrepreneurship to make ends meet, and are becoming highly successful in the process.

After former Marine Staff Sgt. Chris Cassese, the fifth member of his family to enlist in the Military, was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, he drew unemployment for three month before finally finding employment.  Starting out as an employee of Viking Pest control, he quickly began to become interested in the business.   Taking a little over five years, he obtained his general commercial pesticides applicator license with a sub-category in wood destroying pests, and Semper Fi pest control was born.  Now a successful business, with a loyal customer base, Chris has no plans of expansion.  Though he has said if expansion was ever an option, he would hire other transitioning Veterans as a help to others like himself.

Barry Hill, 36, and his wife Maranda, 34, have been stationed on bases from Hawaii to Georgia to their current base of Camp Pendleton in Southern California, the U.S. Marine Corps couple endured four deployments before Hill was wounded in Afghanistan. Now, after being forced into an early retirement they had to find another way of life.  Noticing that there was a shortage of free standing ice machines on the West Coast, they quickly stepped in to help fill that void.  The Hills opened their first unit on the San Onofre Beach near Camp Pendelton and have approval for soon adding three more on the base, as well as other locales. The couple’s goal is to expand to 20 machines on various bases.  After looking into car washes and the like the Hill’s were always drawn back to Ice House of America,  a business model that allows the couple to be self-employed while still living and maintaining their lifestyle.

And so it has been proven again, that Veteran’s are able to run a successful business, in part, thanks to their rigorous training.  These were but two examples of innumerable Veteran’s succeeding in business.  It can be done, and Veteran’s are supplied with the knowledge of knowing just what hard work can do for someone.

 

5 Veterans Who Started Successful Businesses

As success strategies go, modeling is one of the best. Think about it – If you want to do something, do you learn and take your advice from a bunch of people who have never done it before, or do you look at someone who’s done it successfully and see what you can learn from that person? If you answered with the second option, you’ve got the right idea. When you start a business, unsolicited advice is everywhere. It seems like everyone thinks they know how to run your business. Unless they’ve done it before, though, it’s best to smile and nod, then look elsewhere for your advice.

The individuals below are some great places to look. Each of them spent time in the United States military, later using that discipline to succeed in the world of business.

  • Amit Kleinberger of Menchies Frozen Yogurt - He may be slinging froyo these days (and smiles), but at one point, Kleinberger did a 3-year tour as a ground force combat sergeant. He says, “I have to say a “thank you” to the military. In the military you deal with life-and-death situations, and you learn that people do things best when they believe in the common vision and in what you as a leader stand for.”
  • Dave Liniger of RE/MAX – Liniger was actually still IN the military on active duty when he took the first steps towards building what would become a real estate empire. unsatisfied with his pay as a senior airman on hazardous duty, he got inspired to start fixing up houses to make a little extra money. We all know how that turned out.
  • Gordon Logan of SportClips Hair Care - Logan was an aircraft commander in the USAF before his career in “beauty salons” for men and boys. As CEO, he’s put a lot of time and effort into helping other veterans succeed through franchise ownership.
  • Joseph Kopser of RideScout – Kopser is a West Point alum and CEO of the startup RideScout, and he only left the military this year. Today, he lives in Austin and works on his startup.
  • Fred Smith of FedEx – Smith spent time in the marines observing military logistics before founding FedEx – the business no one thought could succeed.

So next time Veterans Day rolls around, remember to give thanks to our veterans not just for their service in the military, but in many cases, for their service as outstanding leaders and job creators.

3 Great Articles on Military Entrepreneurship

This is going to be a quick post, but there’s a lot of meat in the links below.  We’ve been working on gathering a massive list of resources for active and retired military, but we couldn’t resist sharing a few of the best articles.  For your reading pleasure…

Know of any other good articles on military members and entrepreneurship? Or – are you a case study all by yourself? We’d love to write about you and your business if you are. Let us know in the comments!

Starting Your Business As A Veteran

As a veteran,  you’re in a unique position to start a new business. The SBA and many other organizations recognize that military experience develops a lot of skills that translate well to running a business. You learn discipline, teamwork, and respect. You learn the importance of sticking to your commitments, and you learn strength.

All those things make you a much safer bet than a lot of other potential business owners. As a result, there are quite a few programs you can look towards as you seek funding for your new venture.

The SBA has a page dedicated specifically to funding options for both veterans and disabled veterans, and you can access it here.  Depending on where you’re located,  you may also be close enough to utilize a Veterans Business Outreach Center.

Know of any other good resources for veterans looking to start a business? Or, if you’re a veteran who started a business, do you have any good tips for a first timer?  Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!