Why Joining a Credit Union for Military Entrepreneurs is Smart Business
If you are in the military, a veteran, or military spouse and either own or are thinking about starting a business, consider joining a credit union for military entrepreneurs to service your company’s banking needs.
Military credit unions offer tremendous benefits for small business owners and because they are member-owned, they always act in your best interest.
The good news is this: once you are a member, you are always a member. You can leave the military, change employers, move, retire, and get married— and never have to leave the credit union.
Some of the additional benefits for military entrepreneurs are the wide array of financial products and services military credit unions offer.
For example, Navy Federal Credit Union offers a business credit card that does not report to your personal credit reports. When you draw on your company’s credit line, your personal debt/credit ratios are unaffected. This shelters your personal credit for personal necessities such as auto loans, mortgages, student loans, and personal credit cards.
Here is a breakdown of the types of business services military credit unions offer to its members.
Business Checking & Savings
- Variety of business checking accounts
- Variety of dividend-earnings savings products—Money Market Savings Accounts (MMSAs), Jumbo MMSAs and Certificates
- Dividends earned daily
- No or low monthly maintenance fees
- Scan Deposits service
Business Loans (Secured and Unsecured Term Loans)
- Inventory financing
- Equipment purchases
- Leasehold improvements
- Finance—or even refinance—your investment properties
- SBA Loans offered for start-up and/or less tenured businesses
Business Credit Cards
- Low to No Annual Fees
- Annual Percentage Rate as low as prime + 5.9%
- Rewards Points
Merchant Card Processing
- Fair pricing
- Easy-to-read monthly processing statements that you will understand
- Dedicated customer service and support
Generally, you can join a Military credit union if you fall under any of these categories:
- All Department of Defense (DoD) uniformed personnel
- All Department of Defense Reservists
- All Army and Air National Guard Personnel
- All Delayed Entry Program (DEP) Personnel
- All DoD Officer Candidate programs
- U.S. government employees assigned to DoD installations (including Coast Guard)
- All DoD civilian employees
- DoD contractors assigned to U.S. Government installations
- Family Members—including grandparents, parents, spouses, siblings, grandchildren, children (including adopted and stepchildren) and household members
Some credit unions allow your family members (once they’ve joined) to extend the membership opportunity to their family members, too.
If you own a small start-up or a thriving company, a credit union for military entrepreneurs can help you guide your business every step of the way. You'll have a trusted partner who's looking out for your best interests.
*To locate a military credit union nearest you go to culookup.com and type in what branch of the military you serve under the affiliation tab.
My respect, appreciation, and prayers go out to all the members of our Military and their families. We thank you for your service, dedication, and sacrifice for our country.
About the Author:
Memorial Day – SBA Honors and Remembers the Fallen By Supporting Veteran Entrepreneurs and Military Families
Rhett Jeppson is the Associate Administrator for Veterans Business Development
On Memorial Day, we pause to remember the brave men and women of our Armed Services who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country in war and conflict.
What better way to honor their memory, than to support the many thousands who are serving in conflict, as well all of those who have returned home? At the U.S. Small Business Administration, this means helping to create an environment where our returning men and women can achieve the American dream.
Assistance Available for Veteran Business Owners (and others in the military community)
Part of SBA’s mission is to provide assistance to veterans who return home to start, resume, or further grow their businesses. SBA works hard to increase the availability of capital, contracts and business counseling to veterans.
Veteran entrepreneurs receive special consideration in all of SBA’s entrepreneurial programs and resources. Each year, SBA reaches thousands of veterans from both the Active and Reserve Components, and transitioning service members who want to become entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Last year SBA supported more than 4,300 loans from our largest lending programs to veterans totaling $1.5 billion. Additionally, the Patriot Express Loan Program, extended through 2013, offers low interest loans to members of the veteran and military community. Over the past three years, SBA has supported more than $460 million in lending through the Patriot Express Loan Program.
SBA also offers counseling assistance and procurement support each year to more than 200,000 veterans, and their spouses. Often, this work is done through SBA’s 15 Veterans Business Outreach Centers , located throughout the country, that provide both online and in-person training, counseling, mentoring, workshops, referrals, and more. Each of the SBA’s 68 District Offices also has a designated veteran’s business development officer. To find your nearest Veterans Business Outreach Center or SBA District Office, use SBA Direct.
Among the SBA’s unique services for veterans are: an Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for veterans with disabilities in partnership with eight top U.S. universities, a program to reach women veteran-entrepreneurs, and a program for Reserve Component family members called Operation Endure and Grow. SBA also works closely with its resource partner, SCORE, in a new program called Veteran Fast Launch Initiative.
The SBA offers special assistance for small businesses owned by activated Reserve and National Guard members. Any self-employed Reserve or Guard member with an existing SBA loan can request loan payment deferrals, interest rate reductions and other relief after they receive their activation orders.
SBA offers special low-interest-rate financing to small businesses when an owner or essential employee is called to active duty. The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan up to $2 million to eligible small businesses to cover operating costs that cannot be met due to the loss of an essential employee called to active duty in the Reserves or National Guard.
On Behalf of the Employees of the SBA
We honor the fallen and remember them and their sacrifice with reverence and deep respect and hope that it translates into what we do for all veterans today.
About the SBA Office of Veterans Business Development
SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development is responsible for liaison with the Veterans business community; for policy analysis and reporting; for acting as an Ombudsman for Veterans in Small Business Administration programs, for providing business training, counseling and assistance, and for overseeing the Federal procurement programs for Veteran and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned small businesses. Learn more at www.sba.gov/vets.
SBA.gov Resources for Veterans and the Military Community
Joining Forces – Giving Back to our Military Community
More Resources for America’s Veteran-Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners
Small Business Guide for Veterans
About the Author:
From Service to Business – Essential Tools and Programs for Veteran Entrepreneurs
Are you a veteran or service-disabled veteran? Interested in launching your own business?
According to the latest SBA data, of the 27.1 million non-farm businesses in the U.S., 2.4 million are owned by veterans. Moreover, statistics show that the success rate of these veteran-owned businesses is higher than other startups – perhaps a reflection of the discipline, skills and leadership experience acquired in military service.
There are a number of resources and programs from a variety of government and non-profit associations that are designed specifically to help veterans access the tools, funding and help they need to start and grow their business ventures.
Here’s what you need to know:
Getting Started – Online and In-Person Resources
This 10-Step Guide to Starting a Business is essential reading for any entrepreneur, but there are also some very specific resources and in-person assistance programs that can help veterans learn more about the programs available to them. These include:
- Online Resources to Help You Get Started – SBA’s Veteran and Service-Disabled Veteran Small Business Guide is a one-stop portal with links to programs and resources, financing information, government contracting opportunities and other resources.
- Veterans Business Outreach Centers – Operated by SBA, these centers provide services such as business training, counseling (in areas such as business planning assistance and concept feasibility) and mentoring (every entrepreneur is teamed with a business counselor). There are 16 centers across the country.
- Small Business Development Centers – If you don’t have a Veterans Business Outreach Center in your area, you’re very likely to find a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) nearby. There are 1,001 lead centers and satellite centers nationwide, each providing business training, seminars and one-on-one consulting. Sponsored and partially funded by SBA, these centers also offer support for veterans, including help with understanding their financing options.
- SCORE’s Veterans Fast Launch Initiative – Launched in 2011, this government- and commercially-sponsored initiative offers veteran entrepreneurs access to a combined package of free software, workshops and free business advice. The Walmart Foundation, a primary sponsor, will also give scholarships to participants for SCORE’s “Simple Steps for Starting Your Business” series.
Financing Your Venture
If you need financing help, SBA’s Patriot Express and SBAExpress small business loan programs offer low-interest rates and streamlined and expedited procedures for members of the military community (responses to loan applications are made in 36 hours). The Patriot Express loan, for example, can be used for a variety of business purposes including start-up, expansion, equipment purchases, working capital, inventory or business-related real estate purchases. Learn more here. Note that SBA doesn’t provide or fund loans directly; instead, it guarantees a portion of the qualified loan made by a lender, reducing the risk for the lender and improving the approval odds for the borrower.
Help with Business Opportunities
Two specific sectors offer big opportunities and incentives for veteran-owned small businesses – government contracting and franchising.
- Doing Business with Your Former Employer – Government Contracting – The government has an annual goal to set aside 3 percent of the total value of all prime contract and subcontract awards for participation by veteran-owned small businesses. There are many programs and resources that can help you take advantage of this opportunity:
- Find out if you qualify – To determine if you can bid for government business as a veteran or service-disabled veteran, review the following eligibility requirements.
- Read up on the contracting process – SBA’s Government Contracting Small Business Guide includes information about becoming a federal contractor, finding business opportunities, and following the rules and regulations for government contractors. This blog also offers a quick read on this topic: Selling to the Government – Get Started with these 5 Steps.
- Online training – These step-by-step online training guides (See “A Veterans Guide”) can help you compete more successfully in this market.
- Franchising Incentives for Veteran Entrepreneurs – If you want to be your own boss but are wary of the startup risks, buying a franchise can be an appealing alternative. For veterans considering buying a franchise, there are added incentives. The VetFran program, started by the International Franchise Association, provides financial incentives to veterans, such as franchise fee that are not available to civilian franchise investors. A current list of participating companies and the discounts they offer is available on this Web site, www.franchise.org, under 'VetFran Directory.'
If you like the idea of a franchise, make sure to do your research first. This guide provides helpful advice on buying and evaluating a franchise.
What resources or programs helped you start your business? Leave a comment below.
About the Author:
Franchise Business Resources For Veterans Abound
If you’re a US military veteran interested in becoming the owner of a franchise, there are thousands of opportunities for you to explore. It’s easy to become a bit overwhelmed with all of the choices. But, it’s not like you have to try to figure everything out on your own. There are a variety of business resources that put all of their focus on you. Let’s look at some of them.
If you’d like to learn the ins and outs of business, before you embark on your search for a franchise opportunity that makes sense for you, check out The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities.* (EBV) This program is set up to open the door to small business ownership for veterans. You can learn how to develop skills that are needed to launch and grow a small business, and find out how to leverage the programs and services that are available to help you further your dream of business ownership.
There may even be tuition assistance available for you to get your entrepreneurial education. The folks over at Military.com * provide a very thorough list of resources that are worth your time, including information about certain benefits that you may qualify for as a veteran.
This International Franchise Association * (IFA) program helps veterans access franchise opportunities through training, financial assistance, and franchise business industry support.
Beth Solomon, the VP of Strategic Initiatives & Industry Relations for the IFA, told me that as of 2011, over 2200 military veterans have taken advantage of the VetFran program. (The program was started right after the 1st Gulf War.)
Steve Caldeira, President of the IFA, added the following:
“As drawdowns from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars accelerate, more veterans are finding themselves among the ranks of the unemployed. The IFA and the franchise industry are working hard every day with our partners in business and veterans organizations to help America’s sons and daughters find the careers and opportunities in the civilian world they have so bravely earned.”
Veterans Business Outreach Centers
Business training, counseling and mentoring are offered by the Veterans Business Outreach Program (VBOP). The Small Business Administration has cooperative arrangements with 16 different organizations that can help veterans with business plans, feasibility studies, and franchising. Go here for more information.
If you end up going the franchise route, you’ll probably need a small business loan. The SBA’s Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative was set up for veterans and members of the military community wanting to establish or expand small businesses. (Franchise or non-franchise businesses)
It’s important to note that the SBA does not actually lend money. Instead, the SBA sets the guidelines for loans, which are then made by its partners (lenders, community development organizations, and microlending institutions). The SBA guarantees that these loans will be repaid, thus eliminating some of the risk to the lending partners.
Veterans And Franchising
Your military training will be a huge advantage if you end up becoming the owner of a franchise business. The franchise model is quite rigid; there’s not a lot of wiggle room in the way a franchise business is supposed to run on a day-to-day basis. Does that sound familiar? Franchises are for rule followers, not rebels.
Finally, you have to want to be the boss. It’s a serious commitment, and there’s risk involved.
Are you up to it?
* Non-US Government website
About the Author:
Starting a Business? 10 Steps Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know
Starting a business? Confused about the planning, legal and regulatory steps you should follow?
Did you know that home-based businesses are required to hold permits to operate legally in most states? What about incorporation? Many new businesses assume they need to incorporate or become an LLC from the get-go – but the truth is, more than 70 percent of small businesses are owned by un-incorporated sole proprietors (although even this group is required to register their businesses).
So, variables aside, there are still some fundamental steps that any business needs to follow to get started. SBA has compiled 10 steps that can help you plan, prepare, and manage your business – while taking care of the startup legalities. Not all these steps will apply to all businesses, but working through them will give you a sense of what needs your attention and what you can check off.
Step 1 – Write a Business Plan
Yeah, yeah, you know you should write a business plan whether you need to secure a business loan or not. The thing is, a business plan doesn’t have to be encyclopedic and it doesn’t have to have all the answers. A well-prepared plan – revisited often – will help you steer your business all along its growth curve. Try to think of your business plan as a living, breathing project, not a one-time document. Break it down into mini-plans – one for marketing, one for pricing, one for operations, and so on. Take a look at SBA’s Business Planning Guide for more ideas.
Step 2 – Get Help and Training
Starting a business can be a lonely endeavor, but there are lots of free in-person and online resources that can help advise you as you get started. Check out what‘s offered at your Small Business Development Centers; SCORE (which offers free mentoring services); Women’s Business Centers, or your local SBA office.
Step 3 – Choose Your Business Location
Where you locate your business may be the single most important decision you make. Many factors come into play such as proximity to suppliers, the competition, transportation access, demographics, and zoning regulations. Check out SBA’s Tips for Choosing a Business Location and this blog: How to Choose the Best Location for your Business.
Step 4 - Understand your Financing Options
You may choose to bootstrap, fall back on savings, or even keep a full-time job until your business is profitable, but if you are looking for an external source of financing, these resources explain your options.
Step 5 – Decide on a Business Structure
Going it alone or forming a partnership? Thinking of incorporating? What about an LLC? How you structure your business can reduce your personal liability for business losses and debts. Some choices can give you tax benefits. To help you determine the right structure for your business, here’s an overview of your options and some information on how to file the necessary paperwork in your state and the tax implications of your decision. You might also want to read:
- LLCs Explained: A 101 for Small Business Owners
- Should You Incorporate Your Freelance or Consulting Business?
- “Working Together” – How to Start and Formalize a Business Partnership
Step 6 – Register Your Business Name (“Doing Business As”)
Registering a “Doing Business As” name or “trade name” is only needed if you name your business something other than your personal name, the names of your partners, or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation. Here’s how to register your “Doing Business As” name.
Step 7 – Get a Tax ID
Not every business needs a tax ID from the IRS (also known as an “Employer Identification Number” or EIN), but if you have employees, run a business partnership, a corporation or meet certain IRS criteria, you must obtain an EIN from the IRS. You’ll also need to start paying estimated taxes to the IRS; this blog explains more about this process.
Step 8 – Register with Tax Authorities
Employment taxes, sales taxes, and state income taxes are handled at the state-level. Learn more about your state’s tax requirements and how to comply.
Step 9 - Apply for Permits and Licenses
All businesses, even home-based businesses, need a license or permit to operate. This guide explains more and includes a handy “Permit Me” tool that lets you determine what your permit and licensing needs are, based on your zip code and business type.
Step 10 - Hiring Employees
If you’re hiring employees, follow these 10 steps. If you’re working with a contractor or 1099, read 5 Things to Know About Hiring Independent Contractors.
Check out SBA’s Starting and Managing a Business for more tips and guides.
About the Author:
How to Project Your Basic Business Numbers
I’m not a numbers person by nature. I was a writer first, then a journalist, before I got into business. I’ve learned the hard way, though, that managing the basic numbers is critical to business success. And if it’s your business, then you either manage them yourself or work with somebody you really trust.
With that in mind, here’s my summary of the most important and most basic numbers in the business, and how to manage projections and tracking and steering ahead with them.
1. Do a sales forecast
I know that’s hard for a lot of people, in a lot of businesses, but that’s really mainly because you think you’re supposed to predict the future correctly. That’s not really the point. What you want to do is break the future down into meaningful parts, like units, price per unit, and costs per unit. You won’t guess accurately, but if you have the components of it, then you can track the difference between what you expected (or hoped for) and what actually happened. And that leads to management.
What I mean, specifically, is set up a worksheet that goes monthly along the top for 12 months, with a column for the year that adds up the months, and then two other columns to the right for the second and third year. Then think strategically about your main lines of sales, summarizing down to 2-5 lines of sales. Those lines of sales become rows on the same worksheet. Project unit sales in a set of rows, then revenue per unit in another set, and then sales (as units times revenue) as a third unit. Then do direct cost per unit as a set of rows, and finally, sum direct costs as a fifth set of rows. And of course for all of these rows, you have the same columns running to the right: first 12 months, then the first-year total, then the annualized second and third years.
The math for this is simple and obvious. Units times revenue equals sales. Units times direct costs equals cost of sales. Add the months to get the first year. Then do the second and third years annually. The illustration here shows an example for how this looks for the first three months, and you can imagine the rest of it flowing out to the right.
Although the math is simple, the assumptions aren’t. Try to find drivers that can help you project realistic numbers. For example, in a restaurant business you might draw a map of the chairs and tables and calculate how many lunches and dinners you can serve per day, week, and month. Or, in a web-driven business, calculate free traffic, paid traffic, conversion rates, and so forth. Always look for the assumptions you can track later. Hint: that tracking plan vs. actual is what drives management. I call it steering your business.
2. Estimate the expenses.
This is another worksheet. It has the same columns along the top as the sales forecast, namely 12 months, the first year total, and then the second and third year.
The rows in this worksheet are expense items. Normally you start with salaries, and then add in marketing expenses, fixed expenses like rent and utilities, salary-related expenses like payroll taxes and health insurance, and so forth.
The math is simple and obvious here, too, but the assumptions aren’t. But, if you think about it, if you’re going to be able to run a business well you probably have to have a pretty idea of what you’re paying in salaries, rent, utilities, marketing costs, and other expenses.
And you don’t have to be right. You just have to be specific so you can manage the differences.
3. Manage the plan vs. actual differences
This is where the management comes in. Once you’ve got your basic numbers projected, expect those projections to be wrong. And then you meet every month (even if it’s just you, set up the time) to look at what went right, what went wrong, and what adjustments to make.
And that’s called planning.
About the Author:
SBA & Dept. of Ed to Host Twitter Q&A Session: Connecting Grads to Resources to Help Them Startup
Graduation season is right around the corner and to help grads that are looking to start a small business, SBA and the U.S. Department of Education will host a Twitter Q & A Session on April 25 at 2pm EDT connecting soon-to-be grads or recent grads to resources to help them startup, succeed and create an economy built to last.
I, along with U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, will answer your questions about starting a business and highlight the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan, which supports young college grads that are looking to start a business, join a startup, or work in a public service job by making Federal student loan repayment manageable. IBR helps to keep loan payments affordable by using a sliding scale to determine how much you can afford to pay on your Federal loans—empowering you to take risks with new opportunities like starting a small business.
Submit your questions now and follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #GradStartup.
What: Twitter Q &A Session: Connecting Grads to Resources to help them Startup with SBA Administrator Karen Mills and U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan
When: Wednesday, April 25 from 2:00pm–3:00pm EDT
Where: Follow the Q & A on Twitter and submit your questions now, hashtag #GradStartup
About the Author:
Former SBA Administrator