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According to the U.S. Small Business Administration and the last census, there are over 2.4 million veteran-owned business in the United States, employing 5.7 million people and generating over $210 billion in payroll. And while veterans like me are seven percent of the population, we own nearly 10 percent of American businesses. Even more interesting is that 22 percent of veterans in the U.S. were either purchasing or starting a business, or considering doing so, in the study period.

Despite all these numbers, though, only seven percent of the businesses veterans establish stay open longer than 10 years. Why is that? While many internal and external causes can lead to the closure of a business, a frequent cause is a lack of funding.

So, veterans, whether you’re starting a business or seeking funding to accelerate growth, here’s a shortlist of resources I recommend. As with any funding or business support services process, business owners need to carefully evaluate the criteria for applying and be prepared for a sometimes lengthy application and approval process.


Let’s begin with two resources provided by the U.S. Federal Government and how they help businesses:

  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): Veterans and service-disabled veterans can use the SBA’s resources to help start and grow a small business. From funding resource lists to business plan support guidelines for government contracting, this site is rich with information and tools.
  • U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA): The BusinessUSA initiative is part of the VA’s partnership with the SBA and is a resource I recommend for funding support and a plethora of resources for current and aspiring veteran business owners.

VCs, angels, and lenders

There’s also an increasing number of venture capital funds, angel investors, and lenders who recognize that veteran entrepreneurs have personality traits and a work ethic that bode well for success. While the following list is incomplete (and by no means an endorsement), here are a few of the venture capital funds, angel investors, and lenders I’ve come across over the years that understand the value of backing veterans:

  • TCP Venture Capital’s Veteran’s Opportunity Fund: A multi-stage venture capital fund focused on investing in veteran-owned businesses in need of growth capital.
  • The Veteran’s Business Fund: The Veteran’s Business Fund was established to assist veterans by providing them with the supplemental capital required to satisfy the equity requirements for a small business loan. The VBF provides capital to veterans in the form of a non-interest bearing loan with very favorable repayment terms.
  • Hivers and Strivers: Focused on graduates of military academies, they provide funding and active involvement in ensuring the business’ greatest chance for success. They serve as board members and advisors and help open doors by providing counsel and offering expertise.
  • Lenders like Street Shares seek to provide an open-source funding solution beyond the high interest rate loans and often difficult-to-obtain bank loans.

Not every business venture is for-profit. Because many veterans may desire to “pay it forward” to other vets through a non-profit organization and programming benefitting vets, here is one resource I highly recommend for securing non-profit funding:

  • The Wounded Warrior Project: If you are seeking to start a non-profit organization, the Wounded Warrior Project supports organizations that seek to enhance the lives of wounded service members through programs aimed at improving mental health and wellness; exposing wounded service members to new opportunities for physical fitness and activity; connecting wounded service members with their peers and communities; and enhancing economic empowerment and independence.


It’s also worth mentioning the importance of getting connected with advocacy and networking groups that promote veteran entrepreneurs and can provide a network of resources for obtaining funding and business support. Here are a few:

  • National Veteran-Owned Business Association and Vetrepreneur Magazine: This organization and publication are focused on creating opportunities for all of America’s veteran-owned businesses. I recommend taking advantage of the advocacy and knowledge they provide.
  • Vets in Tech: This organization supports vets with re-integration services and connects them to the national technology industry ecosystem. It hosts regular networking events that can be great opportunities to learn from other entrepreneurs, form collaborations, identify potential funders and other resources, and find potential employees/talent.
  • Angel Capital Association: This collective of accredited angel investors is North America’s most prolific early-stage investment class and the largest angel professional development organization in the world. It regularly holds veteran-owned business resource and networking opportunities.

As a serial entrepreneur and owner of a small business called VizSense, my advice is to not be intimidated by the process. Go for it and show these potential investors and supporters that you have what it takes to go all in, be successful, and make their investment pay off.

Jon Iadonisi is a former Navy SEAL and CEO of VizSense, a company that provides analytics reporting for video content.

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