First published by the Oregon SBDC Network here.
If you are a former service member who owns an Oregon business—or is thinking of starting one—read on. There are many valuable state, regional, and national resources that apply directly to you. Here are some of the best resources for veteran entrepreneurs.
National Resources for Veteran Business Owners
The Veteran Entrepreneur Portal
Business owners can easily access the resources needed to help their business succeed via the federal government’s Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veteran Entrepreneur Portal (VEP). With a layout that is simple to understand and use, this website should be one of your very first stops as a military veteran looking to start a business in Oregon.
Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD)
The OVBD is part of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The office assists former service members, service disabled veterans, reservists, active-duty service members, transitioning service members, and their dependents or survivors with accessing capital and preparation for small business opportunities. Veteran small business owners can also seek assistance with federal procurement and commercial supply chains.
From pre-business planning workshops to classes on how to expand into international exports, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Veteran Business Outreach Center (VBOC) can help. The VBOC offers training and expertise to business owners at every stage of getting a company off the ground. Whether you’re a vet long out of uniform, a reservist, or a military spouse, they’re here to offer a variety of help in building, maintaining, and expanding your business.
Access the OVBD’s official website here.
Vets First Verification Program
An initiative of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Vets First Verification Program is more than just a certification system. Any enterprise that qualifies as a veteran-owned small business (VOSB) or service disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) and receives certification through Vets First will be considered first for contracts with the VA. It’s a great way to make sure veteran entrepreneurs get priority access to any VA work their company may be able to carry out.
State and Regional Resources for Veteran Business Owners
Business Impact NW
Business Impact NW is a great resource for veterans and small business owners in Oregon and throughout the Pacific Northwest. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to helping people in traditionally underrepresented communities, including former U.S. service members, to successfully create and run small businesses.
It provides both training and advice for entrepreneurs, as well as technical and financial support, and it works directly with the VBOC, serving as its regional partner. So while this is a regional organization, it has national support and connections to help Oregon business owners succeed.
At the state level, veterans in Oregon can access business resources through Oregon’s government website. This site lets you easily reference organizations that can help with certifications, financing, and understanding the state and federal procurement process.
Oregon’s Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity (COBID) is a statewide initiative that mirrors parts of the Vets First Verification program, providing those who qualify with special access to government contracts. It also shares Business Impact NW’s goal of helping business owners from underrepresented communities.
For your business to qualify for assistance, you must have a VA disability rating letter demonstrating any percentage of disability, between 0% and 100%. Learn more about the application process and get yours started at Oregon’s Service Disabled Veteran (SDV) Certification site.
Make the Most of the Benefits You Earned
This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are many other organizations and resources, both national and regional, aimed at helping small business owners succeed. Some are targeted at veterans or other specific communities; others are available to anyone who has that quintessential American dream of running their own business.
So take these tips as just a starting point to seeking out all the resources for veteran-owned businesses, and remember that you’ve earned this assistance through your selfless service.
Need More Advice?
The PCC Small Business Development Center is here to support you with no-cost business advising and comprehensive business training programs. Get started by requesting your first no-cost business advising session here.