Veteran Business Owners Benefit from a Marketing Makeover


Military members have access to an array of benefits and opportunities earned by their service. Credibility and marketability in the business world just happens to be an added bonus.

There are more than 25 million veterans nationwide. Those who become entrepreneurs and small business owners can use their military service as a springboard to new customers and repeat clients. About 7 in 10 Americans would rather patronize a veteran-owned business than one owned by a civilian, according to the National Veteran-Owned Business Association, or NaVOBA.

But scores of veterans fail to capitalize on the power of their stories and service. Part of it may be an unwillingness or uncertainty about touting that record. In other cases, it's simply an awareness issue. The reality is that veteran-owned business owners who take steps to tout their backgrounds can reap significant rewards, from government contracts to increased industry recognition.

For some, it's a matter of seeking certification and official declarations. But for thousands of others, the key is a basic shift in the way they present their business to the world.

Veteran Contractors

Veterans who own small contracting firms should strongly consider registering with the Department of Veterans Affairs. As with having a minority- or woman-owned business, a veteran-owned business has access to a dedicated pool of federal contracts.

The VA coordinates an official registration process that includes verification of a veteran's military service. The base requirements are that a veteran must own at least 51 percent of the company or its stock and directly control the daily operations. Along with that comes a long, hard look at the business's finances, management structure, inventory, tax documents and other key data.

Now, not every small contractor is in a position to compete for large government contracts. But those that are can boost their chances by obtaining formal certification as a veteran-owned business. There's also a special certification class for veterans with service-connected disabilities. Veterans with a documented disability rating have access to their own pool of contracts, which the government is required to set aside.

Small contractors must also register with the government's main contracting clearinghouse, the Central Contractor Registration.

Veteran-Only Business Loans

Veterans who qualify have perhaps the most potent home loan program on the market: the VA Loan Guaranty program. But you can't use a VA home loan to purchase a commercial building or inject capital into a business.

To help cover the gap, the U.S. Small Business Administration created a pilot program that provides funding for veterans seeking to start or expand small businesses. The Patriot Express loan program offers low-interest loans for up to $500,000, which can be used for a host of purposes, including equipment purchases, working capital and real-estate buys.

Small Steps, Major Impact

Veterans outside the construction sector might still want to take the time to register with the VA. Consider it the first step in a marketing makeover designed to broadcast your service record and credibility.

But there's certainly no requirement if you're more of a mom-and-pop operation. What's essential, though, is making sure prospective and existing consumers clearly understand they're dealing with a veteran-owned operation. That might include revamping your suite of marketing materials and signage — both brick-and-mortar and online — to incorporate that "veteran-owned business" tagline. Embrace it in emails, mailers and promotions. Heck, don't be afraid to mention it when you answer the phone.

This isn't about "cashing in" on a veteran's proud service. This is about recognizing and celebrating it.

American consumers are clamoring for the chance to support veterans and their families. Why not make it easier for them to do so?

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Guest's picture

Great article! I am with We have a free directory of over 5,000 VOB and SDVOSB members. Our site gets 1000s of daily visitors; many of whom are searching specifically to see if a product and/or service is offered by a veteran owned and/or service disabled veteran owned business. Site traffic is growing daily. While we credit many factors for the continued growth, what we really hope is happening is more and more government agencies, contractors and just every day shoppers are starting to include "veteran owned business" when they are purchasing. We aren't just talking about government work but also about every day Americans who for one reason or another are looking for businesses that are owned by veterans. Many of the people we talk to tell us they would have never thought to search for a veteran owned business had they not seen something about "veteran owned businesses" in the news, read an article about it or been alerted by some online resources. In short, the more awareness about it the more likely it is to become a regular shopping activity. And wonderful articles like your article are definitely helping this movement.

Guest's picture

First of all great, informative article. I wrote NaVOBA this week regarding our local chamber. Sure enough this article is linked with their Chamber news letter. I think you would certainly be interested in the current BRAC RTF (Base Realignment and Closure Regional Task Force) It's a huge endeavor once you read the information: BRAC RTF North Carolina Military Business Center

You'll see the mass expansion of what it termed "All American Defense Corridor". Covering 11 Counties and 73 Muncipalites. Overall I and many others feel that an "outside looking in" approach is needed. For example, the Patriot Express Loans sounds great. However at the Defense Trade Show in Fayetteville this week, those speaking of it coudn't refer to a proven case study.

We seem to have in town memberships to get into memberships. The constant claim of supporting Vet owned business. Not to say that people don't. However when it's difficult to provide proof, it's still only a claim and not fact.

I think alot of information and external oversight would keep honest people honest. I couldn't imagine if we had a NaVOBA logo outside of an office to go to. We do have a "Stay NC" and "I Hire Vets" program as part of BRAC. It would just be better of there were updates, talks, and more importantly, in person representation.

With Patriotism,
MSG Joe Roberts

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