OP-ED: SBA supports veteran Montana entrepreneurs and their families


It’s no surprise that current and former military personnel are great entrepreneurs.

The resilience, determination and courage they gained while wearing the uniform was a great training ground for becoming a successful small business owner.

Working in conjunction with our government and community partners, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) plays an important role in supporting military personnel as they leave the military and become entrepreneurs.

During National Veterans Small Business Week, November 1-5, the country celebrates veterans, service members and military spouses who made their entrepreneurial dreams come true.

This year, we give special recognition to seasoned business owners who have overcome and recovered from the hardships caused by the COVID 19 pandemic.

Historically, veterans were more likely to start a small business than non-veterans. Almost ten percent of all American businesses are owned by a veteran. Montana is home to more than 91,000 veterans, and many see entrepreneurship as a way to earn a good living and a way to support their families. Almost 12,000 Montana veterans have made the leap to small business ownership.

The SBA encourages veterans and military personnel in transition to use its programs and services. Here are five SBA resources veterans can tap into when starting their own business.

1. Transition Assistance: The SBA and its resource partners support active duty and transitioning members, veterans and military spouses through the Boots to Business program, which is part of the Assistance Program. the transition of the Ministry of Defense. This program provides free high-level business training to participants.

2. Entrepreneurial Training: Whether you are a female veteran, a veteran with a disability, or looking to learn the fundamentals of business, you can tap into the SBA’s entrepreneurial training programs for help. Resource partners include the Women Business Outreach Centers which help women start and grow small businesses; Small Business Development Centers that offer free and one-on-one counseling and training at low cost; SCORE a network of thousands of volunteer business advisors across the country who provide free in-person and online advice as well as educational workshops; and nationwide ex-combatant outreach centers which focus their training and counseling resources on ex-combatants and their spouses.

3. Access to Capital: SBA, and its network of resource partners, understand that access to capital can be a barrier for veterans starting or expanding their businesses. The first step is to find a commercial lender who participates in the SBA loan guarantee program. SBA Lender Match is a free online referral tool that connects small business owners with participating SBA lenders.

4. Government Contracting: Are you looking to pursue federal government contracting opportunities to help you grow your business? The SBA and its partners have a number of programs to help veterans access competitive and non-competitive federal contracts.

5. Your local SBA district office is a great place to start or grow your business. The Montana district office located in Helena.

Brent Donnelly is the District Manager for the SBA in Montana, based in Helena. He oversees the agency’s programs and services statewide.

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