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Researching Your Business Plan

businessplan

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

 

 

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!