Empowering Florida’s Veteran Entrepreneurs
Empowering Florida’s Veteran Entrepreneurs
What does the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) do?
The VBOC’s mission is to provide business training and counselling services to active duty personnel, veterans from any era, and military spouses who want to learn more about, then start and grow a small business of their own. The VBOC network has 22 centers spread across the US to serve veterans and military spouses in all 50 states and US territories. Our office serves the entire state of Florida from its office in Panama City with counselling in person, by phone and online. To locate a VBOC other than Florida, go to https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/vboc
Is the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) a part of the Veterans Administration (VA)?
No. The VBOC is an U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Resource Partner, operating under the SBA Office of Veteran Business Development. For questions regarding benefits or disability claims, please go to http://www.va.gov to find the VA office nearest you.
How do I qualify for VBOC services?
All U.S. military veterans, including Active Duty personnel and those with any prior military service, as well as military spouses, and surviving military spouses qualify for VBOC services. This VBOC serves the entire State of Florida. If you are in another state or U.S. Territory, please consult the list of https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/vboc to determine which regional office to contact.
How much does it cost?
NOTHING! You have earned access to the VBOC’s services through your military service or your personal relationship to a military member. VBOC’s business counseling, training and resources are provided at no cost to you. All you have to do is register here: www.VBOC.org
Why do I have to register?
First, the VBOC is legally required to get your written consent to receive counseling, training, and advice. Consequently, we can only give you general information until you have submitted the Electronic Request For Counseling (ERFC). The EFRC also serves as our Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest Agreements provided for your security.
Does the VBOC share my information with or sell it to anyone?
No. The Electronic Request For Counseling (EFRC) form is a non-disclosure statement that assures that we will not share or sell your personal or business information with any outside commercial entities.
Where can I get training to help me start and run a small business?
Check out our BASIC TRAINING page where we cover many of the topics entrepreneurs need to know. On our BUSINESS RESOURCES page, you will learn more about the federal Small Business Administration’s many training programs and business counseling partners, like the VBOC, SBDC, SCORE and Women’s Business Centers.
If you are still active duty and eligible for the DoD’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) or a military spouse, we encourage you to register for the “Boots to Business” Intro to Entrepreneurship track. Check with the TAP manager at your base for a schedule of classes. The TAP schedule for bases in Florida is posted on our HOME page.
Are there any grants to start a for-profit business?
No. Currently, the VBOC is unaware of specific grants for veterans, or anyone for that matter, to open a for-profit business. Typically, grants go to non-profit social services, research and educational institutions. However, the VBOC advises anyone interested in grants to search www.grants.gov and other financial publications for information. There might be state or local funding for small businesses where you intend to operate but be aware of and research thoroughly the legitimacy of any organizations stating they can “get you a grant” – these are usually scams! If the VBOC becomes aware of legitimate grants for veterans to start a business, this information will certainly be posted.
Does the VBOC lend money to businesses?
No. The VBOC is not a lending institution and does not lend money to small businesses. A veteran will have to obtain financing through a bank or credit union, other lenders, or by other means. The VBOC can help you understand the lending process, become familiar with SBA loan guarantee programs and traditional business financing, then help you prepare the documents you will need to take to a lender.
What is the SBA? Do they give loans for individuals to start businesses?
The US Small Business Administration (SBA), established in 1953, provides technical, financial, and management assistance to help Americans start, run, and expand their businesses. With a portfolio of business loan guarantees, surety bond loans and business disaster recovery loans, the SBA is the nation’s largest single financial backer of small businesses. However, the SBA does not give direct loans to start businesses. Much like the VA guarantees home loans for veterans, the SBA guarantees a portion of the loan to the lender, if you qualify. Learn more about the SBA business loan programs at https://www.sba.gov/loans-grants
Does the Veterans Administration (VA) provide loans for veterans to start businesses?
No. However, the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) services may be provided to assist Veterans in starting their own businesses or independent living services for those who are severely disabled and unable to work in traditional employment, due to a service related injury. For more information, go to http://www.benefits.va.gov/vocrehab/index.asp
I am interested in government contracting. How can the VBOC help?
The Florida VBOC is uniquely qualified to guide you through the process of doing business with the government at any level (federal, state and local). We have easy-to-understand and field-tested training tools on our Basic Training page on this website. First, review this information, and then watch our “Introduction to Government Contracting narrated presentation” and review the other resources there. For personal assistance, register for counseling or call 800-542-7232.
Can the VBOC assist or intervene with Government Contracting issues?
No. We have no direct standing or authority in the contracting process (see Federal Acquisition Register, Part 33). You must seek the guidance of a trained Government Procurement Agent or qualified attorney.
Empowering Florida’s Veteran Entrepreneurs
Empowering Florida’s Veteran Entrepreneurs
Looking Ahead: How to Set Your #VetBiz Up for Success in 2021
The year 2020 has been tough for small businesses across the nation, including veteran and military owned. Thanks to years of service, veterans are well-equipped to navigate difficult situations, adapt to new environments, and pivot against the unknowns. But that doesn’t change the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous challenges for entrepreneurs during this time.
We recognize that many of you have had to shift operations, adapt your business plan, layoff your valued staff, and much more. The SBA and our extensive veteran resource network is here to give you the tools you need to strengthen your business in the new year.
Here are some ways you can set your veteran-owned business up for success in 2021.
Get your business finances back on track. At the SBA, we want to make sure small businesses can access the capital they need to move forward and rebuild. Preparing your business for lending prospects and finding the right lender are important first steps if you’re looking to acquire additional funding. We’ve made it easier for entrepreneurs to access lenders through Lender Match, our free online tool that connects small businesses with SBA-approved Community Development Financial Institutions and small lenders.
SBA also offers a variety of loan programs for small businesses, including the Economic Injury Disaster Loan which is designed to economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue due to COVID-19.
Sharpen your business knowledge and acumen. Now is the perfect time to touch up on your business knowledge, and the good news is the SBA offers a number of free or low cost entrepreneurial education and training programs. For example, the Boots to Business program is a great way to get back to the basics of business and brush up on the fundamentals of business planning, opportunity
recognition, market research, financing, and more. Classes are offered on military installations worldwide or in your local community through Boots to Business Reboot.
Thanks to our network of grantees, SBA also provides entrepreneurial training programs for veteran and military entrepreneurs, including specialized programs for women veterans, service-disabled veterans, and veterans interested in federal procurement. The majority of these programs are conveniently offered in a variety of formats which makes it easier to find a program that works best for you.
Team up with SBA’s extensive resource partner network. As you work to strengthen your business in the new year, you don’t have to do it alone. SBA has a nationwide ecosystem of resource partners in over 1,400 locations with more than 13,000 business advisors who are ready to assist you especially during times like these. Our Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC) are a great place for veteran entrepreneurs to find tailored business trainings, workshops, counseling, and more. Plus, VBOC services are offered in-person, virtually, and over the phone.
In addition to VBOCs, SBA’s network of District Offices, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and SCORE Chapters help bring all of SBA’s programs and resources right to your local community. Think of this network as your team or unit in the military – we have your back and we’re committed to helping you accomplish your mission successfully.
For more tips to help you set your veteran-owned small business up for success in 2021 and beyond, visit https://bit.ly/Dec20VetBiz1.
December 1, 2020
SBA’s top priority is to continue to support the small business community, including the military and veteran small business community, through the COVID-19 pandemic. Please visit sba.gov/coronavirus for information.
Originally written by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans Business Development.
The Florida Veterans Business Outreach Center is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the US Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.
Updated: April 16, 2021 06:23 PM
Created: April 16, 2021 03:26 PM
When transitioning from active duty to civilian live, many veterans find themselves struggling to find a new career path in life. For those looking to start their own business after the military, there are resources available to get started by the U.S. Small Business Administration targeted specifically to those who have served.
The program is called Veterans Business Outreach Center or VBOC. The program is operated in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota in collaboration with the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. It provides veterans, active-duty members and their family members free entrepreneurial development services like business training, counseling and resource partner referrals.
Dan Newberry, the co-director of VBOC, served his county and now has his own business operating a gym for veterans. He is helping veterans like him who want to start their own business after personally knowing the challenges many of our military members face after serving.
“When I was getting out I personally have struggled with my own transition for three years. I was trying to find adequate work and I was trying to kind of figure out my way,” said Newberry.
That’s where Newberry says VBOC comes into play by providing the guidance, support, counseling, and training needed to start a business.
“It’s really great to see service members take those skill sets that they acquire when they’re in the military. Attention to detail, leadership and managerial skills, all those things are required to be a successful entrepreneur,” said Newberry.
In the middle of a health pandemic, it’s even more challenging and daunting to start a business. That however didn’t stop veterans Matt Caple and Ben Gipson. They used services like VBOC to get help on their business journey called Warrior Brewing Company. It’s located at the former location of Lake Superior Brewing Company on 2711 W. Superior St.
“Having an outlet such as entrepreneurial opportunities like this is great for veterans that are looking for an opportunity to be their own boss,” said Caple.
“We went through the SBA and they put us in contact with different organizations to help us prepare for our business,” said Gipson.
They are set to start production of their brewing company next week. They’ll be brewing up imperial stouts, a golden honey ale, IPA’s and plan to be in local liquor stores by June. Now that they have overcame the hurdles of starting a business, they offer advice to other veterans who want to get started.
“Find mentors, find a network of people who can help and assist you. Trying to do it alone is definitely a lot of burden on your shoulders and kind of difficult. There’s a lot of resources out there,” said Gipson.
“You’ve served your country. Now it’s our chance to really get to serve you and help you start a new journey,” said Newberry.
If you would like to learn more about the program and how you can get help, click here.
The Agriculture Community and Rural America Rely on Veterans
Track I > From Farm to Fork – Veterans in Agriculture and Agribusiness
Track II > Opportunities for Veterans in Rural Business
From Farm to Fork – Veterans in Agriculture and Agribusiness
As a veteran, you may find it challenging to determine what to do after military service, and to figure out how your experience can transfer to other career fields. USDA wants you to know that your experience and skillset can immediately and directly transfer to the field of agriculture. New and Beginning Farmers are veterans who are part of the community of beginning farmers and are therefore eligible for programs to help start – and continue – a career in farming.
Access to Capital, Land and More – USDA can help veterans transition into farming, ranching, and other agricultural opportunities by connecting you with financial, educational and training resources, and business planning support. These resources include:
USDA’s Discovery Tool can help you identify which programs might be right for you.
Opportunities for Veterans in Rural Business
For those veterans who are from rural America and chose to return home after service, or for those who choose to move to a rural area, USDA wants to help you sustain and strengthen your communities.
Rural Business – USDA offers support to entrepreneurial veterans who want to strengthen and develop your rural communities through starting or growing a business. To do this, USDA wants to empower trained leaders like you who know and love your local communities. USDA’s Rural Development is here to help with more than 40 loan, grant, and technical assistance programs that you can use to get started. These programs include support to:
- Purchase and develop land and facilities
- Purchase equipment and supplies
- Refinance for job expansion
- Finance for energy efficiency improvements
Get help with your business plan by visiting your local Veterans Business Outreach Center.
Community Development – You may choose to continue to serve as a leader in your local rural community. USDA can help you in the revival and redevelopment of your community by buying, building or improving a community facility. This support is available through USDA’s Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program and can include direct loans, grants and loan guarantees, which support large projects such as hospitals, health clinics, schools, and fire houses, or other facilities that provide an essential service to the local community. These funds can be used to purchase, construct, and/or improve these types of facilities.