“A small business set-aside designation can be a valuable tool if adequately documented, registered, certified and prudently used for bidding work that your enterprise is capable of performing successfully.“
“The following are the small business set-aside designations in federal government contracting:
1. Small Business – Established by North American Industry Classification (NAICS) Code for all categories of government business (Please download the “SBA Small Business Size Standards” at the “Box Net” Cubicle on the right margin of this web site for further information). Federal contract solicitations have a NAICS Code assigned to them when they are registered at the below web site:
7. Historically Under-Utilized Business (HUB) Zone Located – Pertains to small businesses located in geographic areas with a historical record of low government contracting. This designation requires application at the following HUB Zone Site Web Site:
QUALIFICATIONS, REGISTRATION, CERTIFICATIONS AND REPRESENTATIONS
To qualify as a small business for a given solicitation an enterprise must have registered at the System for Award Management Web Site under the applicable NAICS code for the procurement and meet the SBA eligibility size standards for that code.
A small business certifying under the above must have individuals qualifying for the designations with at least 51% ownership interest and an operating role in the company. 60% is recommended to avoid the appearance of a front. Silent partners and investors without qualifying status or an operating role in the firm do not count toward the designation. It is suggested that ownership interest be specified by name on the articles of incorporation with the state and by % of ownership in an operating agreement or similar document.
To qualify as a HUB Zone Enterprise the business must be located in a HUB Zone and a qualifying percentage of the members (owners or employees) of the business must also live in the applicable HUB Zone.
Carefully select your small business designations when preparing your business and marketing plans for federal government contracting. Keep in mind that self-certifications are verified through records checks and site visits by contracting officers, DCMAO and Source Selection Boards for federal procurements before contract awards are made.
A small business set-aside designation can be a valuable tool if adequately documented, registered, certified and prudently used for bidding work that your enterprise is capable of performing successfully.”
“If you’re a veteran who wants to be your own boss, it may not be obvious how to get started. Here’s what they told us:
1. Take advantage of the help available to you
Vets who want to start their own businesses can run into a unique problem: There are so many programs and resources out there to help, they may not know where to start.
Misty Stutsman, director of entrepreneurship at Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, said there are several hundred programs developed to help vets start their own businesses.
“There’s a huge navigation issue that veterans are now facing,” she said. “With all of those resources, you can kind of spin your wheels.”
Stutsman suggested that vets start by finding local groups and resources, as well as consulting their network of fellow vets to see what groups they found most helpful.
The military’s transition assistance program, or TAP, includes a section focused on entrepreneurship called Boots to Business, which can help vets learn the basics of entrepreneurship and get a grasp on the support programs available to them. Vets who have already separated from the military can get a version of this training by signing up for its sister program, Boots to Business Reboot.
“SBA has this amazing myriad of resources,” Stutsman said.
Larry Stubblefield, associate administrator for SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development, said his organization can help veterans find mentors, navigate lenders, learn how to market themselves and much more.
“We have 22 Veterans Business Outreach Centers located around the country,” Stubblefield said. “They’re like a one-stop shop for transitioning service members, veterans, military spouses.”
And the cost is already covered by your tax dollars, typically.
“The vast majority of our resources are free to the recipient.”
3. Find a mentor
“The folks who go out and connect … you’re much more likely to be successful than going at it alone,” Stubblefield said. “Entrepreneurship is definitely a team sport.”
If you know fellow vets who started their own businesses, reach out and ask them for advice. If you don’t, look into the SCORE program, a volunteer initiative associated with SBA that helps vets find business mentors.
“SCORE’s been around 56 years, now, and it’s what is called a resource partner of the SBA,” said Jay Gladney, a certified SCORE mentor. “We actually extend their … personnel resources to allow them to better serve SBA clients.”
SCORE connects budding entrepreneurs with mentors who have successfully grown their own businesses, often in the same field. The mentors can help budding entrepreneurs hone their ideas, improve their pitches to lenders and plan for growth and next steps.
“There are very few brand-new ideas out there,” Gladney said.
But the fact that someone has probably already tried your business idea in some form can work to your advantage – it gives you the opportunity to learn from their successes and failures.
“Learn as much as you can about the industry, the product and the service that you’re going into, so that you’re going in with a much better possibility of success,” Gladney said.
Gladney and other entrepreneurship experts told Military Times that it is important to make sure that your idea has enough target consumers who are eager to buy what you’re trying to sell. This probably means doing more than just asking your friends and family what they think.
Gladney suggested that entrepreneurs create surveys using free online tools to help them better understand what the consumers they’re targeting really want.
“You can actually create a small survey to ask people about what it is that you’re creating, whether they would be interested in buying that, and even ask them the price points,” he said.
5. Build a business plan
You’ve surely heard that you need to make a business plan before you launch your own company. But what exactly is a business plan?
You should be making a “fairly robust document” in the range of 15 to 20 pages, Gladney said. And it’s important that you physically write it out, rather than just having a vague sense of it in your head.
“Getting it written down is important, because it forces them to be specific and to make it make sense,” he said.
Ask your network of mentors and advisors to help.
And once you write the plan down, it doesn’t become an infallible document that should never be changed again, said Stutsman of Syracuse’s IVMF.
“A business plan becomes a living document,” she said. “ It’s not something that’s set in stone.”
Stutsman said that business owners should go back to their mentors and advisors, even long after getting their businesses off the ground, for advice and help adjusting their business plans to meet changing conditions.
6. Figure out financing
Launching a business will require money. Depending on your business, it could be a lot, or it could be a relatively modest amount. But regardless, you’re probably going to need to find a lender.
One of the first things that any lender will want to see is a business plan and market research that shows that your idea is viable.
“Lenders are going to be looking at that,” said SBA’s Stubblefield. “They’re not just going to, you know, hand you money.”
Even once you have all that material together, chances are that you’ll still have a hard time getting a loan by just walking into your nearest bank.
“Banks are generally a little difficult for startups,” said SCORE’s Gladney. “There’s no track record for success of the business for a startup, and so therefore the bank has less data on which to evaluate the risk that they’re taking.”
Another great resource is the SBA’s Lender Match program. Just fill out some forms online and the service connects you with possible funding sources, all of which have been approved by the SBA.
7. Talk with your family
Your personal and family finances – credit scores, debt, collateral, etc. – will affect your ability to get a business loan, Gladney said.
And of course, the inverse is true as well: Whether your business succeeds or fails will have a big impact on your family’s financial situation. So starting your own business needs to be a family decision.
“You absolutely must have … partner/family buy-in, or you’re doomed to fail,” said Janet Harris, director of recruitment for Dream Vacations, a franchise brand that helps entrepreneurs launch their own travel businesses.
One way to minimize your personal financial risk is to start slow, said Stutsman of Syracuse’s IVMF.
“Don’t quit your day job … Don’t cash out your 401k on an idea,” she said. “It’ll take a while to get to cash flow. It’ll take a while until you can take an income without hurting your company.”
In addition, Gladney recommended setting up a separate legal structure for your company, such as an LLC, so that the company bears more of the financial risk, not you. But even if you take all these steps, starting your own business is still a big risk.
“You have to assume the risk if you want the reward,” Gladney said.
8. Consider franchising
Starting a business from scratch will require you to do marketing, accounting, website building and much more. Are you an expert in all of those areas? Are you ready to pay someone else to help?
If not, franchising might be a great option.
“If you have a franchise, it’s like a box with a big bow on top,” said Janet Harris of Dream Vacations. Inside that box, you’ll find marketing, accounting, training and other help.
Of course, that help comes with extra cost.
SBA’s Stubblefield said that while franchisees can typically expect “a lot of support from corporate headquarters,” they are also likely to have much steeper startup costs.
Franchisees also typically have monthly franchise fees, or royalties, marketing expenses, material costs and other ongoing expenses.
That said, the franchise system is often a very good fit for veterans, Harris said.
“Franchising is a road map, so you follow that road map to success, which is also what … men and women in the military do,” she said. “That makes them very comfortable, and it also gives them more confidence.”
VetFran, a branch of the International Franchise Association, has online advice and resources for veterans interested in franchising.”
“Veterans are 45 percent more likely than non-veterans to start a small business.
Today, veterans own 2.52 million small businesses — nearly 1 in every 10 — while employing 6 million Americans and generating $1.14 trillion in receipts.
Veteran-owned small businesses have always been a pillar of America’s economy, but they are in a generational decline.
More than 1.1 million veteran business owners are over the age of 65, and in 2014, only 4.5 percent of Post-9/11 veterans started a business, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When considering that nearly half of World War II veterans and 40 percent of Korean War veterans started businesses, the differences are stark.
As an estimated 200,000 service members transition from the military every year, the Small Business Administration knows how imperative it is to connect service members, veterans and military spouses with the tools and resources they need to become business owners — and what the nation risks losing if they don’t.
Starting a successful small business is a tough mission. It requires tenacity, discipline and adaptability — all character traits found in a veteran, alongside many other skills. But being your own boss doesn’t mean going it alone.
Transitioning service members and veterans need ready access to business assistance services, resource networks, capital and market opportunities to ensure success. Empowering and regenerating America’s veteran entrepreneurs is one way to help reverse our declining trends in entrepreneurship while also facilitating the economic revitalization of small towns and rural America.
The SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development works to formulate, implement and promote policies and programs that equip members of the military community with counseling, training and education, as well as access to capital to start their own businesses and assist them with contracting opportunities. Since 2013, 50,000 transitioning service members and military spouses have participated in the Boots to Business program as part of the Defense Department’s Transition Assistance Program. B2B provided — for the first time since World War II — a strong, visible pipeline of potential veteran business owners.
Boots to Business provides free entrepreneurship training in more than 200 military installations and military communities. Graduates of these programs are 53 percent more likely to start a business, and 91 percent are still in business after a year, according to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families.
Surveys of Post 9/11-era veterans show as many as 25 percent would like to own a business after leaving service. However, lack of seed capital can be a challenge. There are no grants for veteran-owned businesses, traditional SBA lending programs are not for new businesses and the SBA’s micro-lending intermediaries do not focus on veterans, leaving veteran entrepreneurs more likely than nonveterans to rely on personal savings and credit cards to fund their businesses.
Seeking to bridge the seed capital gap, Congress proposed the Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition, or VET, Act of 2016. It proposes an SBA program that would evaluate the use of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits as seed capital for starting a new business, similar to the World War II era-GI Bill, connecting B2B and other technical assistance programs to GI Bill grants by leveraging existing SBA infrastructure and administration.
The SBA activates the entrepreneurial potential of military and veteran entrepreneurs. Recognized through the SBA’s annual celebration during National Veterans Small Business Week and beyond, generations of these brave women and men have answered the call to start their own small businesses. The Post-9/11 era of veterans represents the next great generation to continue this legacy of success.”
“Three years after a key Supreme Court ruling that set the stage, the Veterans Affairs Department is raising its goals for contracting with small businesses in the veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned categories.
Both moves represent a 5-percent increase in both goals for VOSBs and SDVOSBs. In 2010, then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki established the 10-percent goal for VOSBs and 12 percent for SDVOSBs. ‘
“Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act became law earlier this month, allowing veteran small business owners to acquire those pieces of equipment and personal property that the federal government no longer has any use for, effectively free of charge.”
“Scattered in warehouses throughout the country are the kinds of federal resources that can help make small businesses thrive — laptops and office furniture, construction equipment and farm tools that have been gathering dust, unused and unseen, year after year.
Meanwhile, thousands of American service members are returning home from war, taking off their uniform then taking a chance: trying to scrounge up enough resources to start their own small businesses, all too often struggling to stay in the black if and when they get off the ground.
Even in an era of such political gridlock, it just made no sense for these two problems to co-exist.
As of a few weeks ago, they no longer do.
Now that farmer in southern Illinois might not have to stay up at night, worried about how he’ll possibly be able to pay for that generator.
Now that veteran who returned from war and went back to school can get the computers she needs to open the doors to her very own practice.
And now American taxpayers will no longer have to foot the bill to store all those resources that belong in office buildings and cornfields.
A win-win, by anyone’s estimation.
There’s a reason veterans are twice as likely to start or lead their own companies as civilians, with roughly 10 percent of small businesses across the country run by those who’ve served, including 80,700 in Illinois alone.
It’s because no matter where they were deployed, no matter which branch they call their own, those who’ve worn the uniform have a kind of courage instilled in them that’s impossible to root out — the type of resilience and determination that can turn a longshot idea into a smooth-running, profit-making business.
Yet thanks to a number of factors, the number of veterans leading their own companies is plummeting as compared to generations past. While a staggering 49.7 percent of World War II veterans went on to run or own businesses, followed by 40 percent of Korean War veterans, just 4.5 percent of those who served after Sept. 11, 2001, had launched their own businesses as of late 2016.
We know that veterans are far more likely to hire other veterans, especially those who are struggling with the wounds of war, both visible and otherwise. So fewer vets at the helm of companies means fewer vets throughout the ranks, too. Fewer learning the ropes of an industry. Fewer climbing the ladder to the top. Fewer who, someday, might start a business of their own.
My hope is that this bill will help change all that, beginning to reverse the trend of entrepreneurship among recent veterans and, in doing so, getting more of our heroes get hired and trained today so they can succeed tomorrow.
These women and men risked their lives for the rest of us overseas. It was way past time for us to pass legislation that looks out for them when they step back onto U.S. soil.
So to all those veterans who own or are looking to start small businesses, this bill is for you. And all you have to do to begin laying claim to those unused items and their untapped potential is click here to contact your local state agency.
In this Feb. 14, 2018, photo, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., speaks to Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit, on Capitol Hill, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP) “
Sumner Lee, a former Navy helicopter pilot who also spent several years working for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, or Spawar, in San Diego, leveraged his experience to help start Fuse Integration in 2010. Fuse, a design engineering firm, focuses on networks and software. Its software tool allows the Navy to monitor network systems on its ships, Mr. Lee said. Revenue, which he said is under $10 million, grew 35 percent in the past year.
According to research from the United States Small Business Administration, veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than those without active-duty military experience.
“If you look across all sectors of San Diego’s economy — life sciences, telecom, biotech, health care, I.T., sports innovation, medical and wearable devices, clean tech — you will find entrepreneurial hubs,” Mr. Cafferty said. “Over time, growth has transformed our region’s economy into a diverse mix of high-growth industries, some with direct ties to defense technology. This can be largely attributed to the veterans who stay here.”
Yet veterans still face some daunting challenges in transitioning from the military to private-sector entrepreneurship. To address those issues, several groups have set out to help veterans navigate the complexities of starting a small business.
“When you’re starting a brand-new business and you don’t have any type of business track record because you’ve been serving in the military, it’s very hard to get a loan or find investors,” he said. “If you are starting a company that’s directly connected to the experience obtained while you were in the military, then you have a network to tap. But if you want to open a Subway, that’s a totally different story.”
Veterans who aspire to be entrepreneurs often lack solid knowledge of the industry in which they want to operate, Mr. Figari said. Some, he added, may struggle to understand that as business owners, they will have several jobs, not one.
To address those challenges, nonprofit groups and former service members have created programs to give veterans the training they need. Mr. Figari’s group, for instance, provides general entrepreneurship training to veterans in eight counties in Southern California.
Other groups offer more extensive training, like the Rosie Network, a nonprofit that helps small businesses in San Diego started by veterans or their spouses. This year, the Rosie Network opened the Military Entrepreneur Development Center, an accelerator program for entrepreneurs who are on active duty, are veterans or are spouses of military personnel. It also offers Service2CEO, a free, 12-month small-business development program.
Nick Norris, a former member of the Navy SEALs, went through the Rosie Network’s training after leaving the military in 2013.
His experience in the Navy led him to help found Predator Warpaint, a camouflage paint with sunscreen protection. The SEALs, along with members of other military branches, train outdoors using camouflage face paint, but military-issued sunscreen “is a rarity,” Mr. Norris said.
Predator Warpaint adopted technology often used in the surfing industry — a sport that defines San Diego’s beach culture — and created a camouflage paint that contains SPF 50 sunscreen. The Rosie Network, Mr. Norris said, helped his company make critical connections for building sales channels to the military and to hunters, who buy it online. A Kickstarter campaign raised $30,000 in seed money.
Rather than finding investors or securing a loan, Isaac Wang, a former surface warfare officer in the Navy, chose to finance his start-up, War Foodie, which sells specialty coffee and coffee presses, himself.
The inspiration for it came from his experience in the Navy. “The coffee is really bad,” Mr. Wang said. His company, now two years old, sells its wares in both military and expat communities globally.
Many of those leaving the service, however, may not know if they are suited to run their own businesses.
The Honor Foundation helps veterans address that question in its 15-week program, which trains and prepares former Navy SEALs to either start their own companies or to get a job. One-third of the Honor Foundation’s graduates trained as entrepreneurs, said Joe Musselman, the organization’s founder.
One of them is Charles Matranga, who finished the program in June. Mr. Matranga was a member of the Navy SEALs for 26 years. During that time, he handled a host of business issues, including managing budgets, people and capital. Now, he said he is “translating those skills into corporate America skills.”
This year he helped start Exitus Technologies, which makes a wearable security device that can connect its user to a network of friends and emergency medical workers with the push of a button.
Many of San Diego’s ex-military personnel have found a home in the tech sector, which also dominates the region with companies like Qualcomm, Sapphire Energy and General Atomics. These kinds of technology ventures need engineers, especially electrical, aerospace and communication engineers, who are plentiful in San Diego.
“It’s a good talent pool for us,” said Josh Wells, a former Navy pilot and a founder and chief executive of Planck Aerosystems, which created a technology that enables unmanned drones to take off and land autonomously from a moving vehicle onto a ship. So far, Planck has raised $1.9 million in seed funding.
Alan McAfee spent seven years as a Navy corpsman before being discharged in 2007 because of an injury. Mr. McAfee learned about Fab Lab, a nonprofit community space in San Diego’s Makers Quarter that gives members access to tools, technology and training for digital fabrication.
There, he created an entrepreneur-in-residence program in which participants collaborate and support one another. In exchange, they volunteer at least five hours per week at the lab. About 20 percent of Fab Lab members are active-duty military or veterans.
“There is something interesting about the intersection of the maker movement and the veteran population,” said Katie Rast, a founder and the director of Fab Lab. “I think there is a call to action that really speaks to those who have served, knowing you have been the creator of something that has use in the world.”
It was at Fab Lab that Mr. McAfee got to know the founders of Robo3D, a 3-D printing company. He then joined the company about 18 months ago as a partner and vice president of engineering.
The company has just raised a second round of funding and is preparing for an initial public offering. “I love working with start-ups,” Mr. McAfee said. “The intensity, the pace, the flexibility and how competitive it all is.”