With National Veterans Small Business Week starting at the end of October, it’s a great time to take a closer look at veteran-owned small businesses and their situations, statistics, and struggles. A crucial part of the small business economy, veteran-owned businesses account for over 350,000 businesses in the United States, with tens of thousands in Wisconsin alone. According to research conducted by the Small Business Administration, nearly 7% of all businesses were majority owned by veterans, employing approximately 4 million people nationwide. Most veteran business owners are older, with the Small Business Administration also reporting that about 74% of them are over the age of 55. Veteran-owned small businesses are present in nearly every industry, but the Census Bureau reports that they are mostly concentrated in the transportation, utilities, mining, quarrying, and oil/gas extraction industries.
Veteran-owned small businesses are particularly vulnerable, statistically even more so than the average small business. Recent years have been very difficult for veteran-owned small businesses, with most veterans reporting a lack of support from governments at every level. Nearly 60% reported a lack of federal support, 76.9% reported a lack of state support, and 78.5% reported a lack of support from their local governments during the pandemic. They applied for COVID relief funds at the same rate as their non-veteran counterparts but were denied far more frequently than non-veteran business owners. Most veteran business owners rely on their personal capital to start or acquire their businesses, with the second most common source of funding being business loans from banks and other commercial lenders.
Given their especially vulnerable state, veteran small business owners are entitled to several SBA programs that help compensate for these issues and keep them in business. The Office of Veterans Business Development provides much needed access to capital alongside connections to federal and commercial procurement and supply chains. It also facilitates connections between veteran business leaders and lenders for direct financing opportunities. Furthermore, the SBA provides entrepreneurship and business leadership training programs (or one-on-one counseling) with customized curriculums specially designed to help veterans in every situation navigate the difficulties of starting a business. Lastly, it connects veteran business owners to federal contracting opportunities, with the federal government allocating a portion of its annual contracting dollars to veteran-owned small businesses. All of these services combine to make a complete package of assistance to veteran-owned small businesses, and can help veterans start their business, sustain it, and make up for gaps in support compared to non-veteran businesses.
As a whole, veteran-owned small businesses are an integral part of the U.S. small business landscape. They display great staying power by persevering against the odds and through tough times like the pandemic. To even those odds, veteran small business owners can utilize programs offered by the SBA tailored to their needs. We’re all rooting for veteran small business owners to succeed and look forward to National Veterans Small Business Week.
“Facts about veteran owned businesses” [Article]. Veteran Owned Business. Available at: https://www.veteranownedbusiness.com/veteran-owned-businesses-facts.php [Accessed Aug 29, 2022]
“Highlighting America’s Veteran-Owned Small Businesses” [Article]. U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy. Available at: https://advocacy.sba.gov/2020/11/27/highlighting-americas-veteran-owned-small-businesses/ [Accessed Aug 29, 2022]
“Veteran-owned business” [Webpage]. U.S. Small Business Administration. Available at: https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/grow-your-business/veteran-owned-businesses [Accessed Aug 29, 2022]
“Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Play Significant Role in U.S. Economy, but Encounter Difficulties” [Article]. U.S. Small Business Administration. Available at: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/veteran-owned-small-businesses-play-significant-role-in-us-economy-but-encounter-difficulties-301416741.html [Accessed Aug 29, 2022]