Opening Opportunities: A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Certified Veteran-Owned Small Business and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business State and Federal

As a Veteran, you’ve already demonstrated courage, commitment, and resilience in your service to the nation. Now, imagine translating those qualities into entrepreneurial success by starting or expanding your own business by tapping into government contracting opportunities. The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers certification programs for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSB) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB), providing a pathway to exclusive contracts and fostering economic growth.

You might ask, “why would I need a certification as a veteran owned business through the Small Business Administration?” Well, there are a few good reasons why this certification is a good idea for your business as a veteran.  One, it allows you to compete for certain federal and/or state government contracts.  It also will allow you to purchase government supply surplus items that can help you to continue to grow your business. And importantly, it underscores your brand as a veteran-owned or service-disabled veteran-owned business to your customers and your community.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process to achieve VOSB or SDVOSB certification.

Step 1: Verify Your Eligibility

Before diving into the certification process, ensure you meet the eligibility criteria. For VOSB, veterans must own and control at least 51% of the business. For SDVOSB, service-disabled veterans must meet the same criteria. Confirm your eligibility and proceed with confidence.

Step 2: Gather Your Documents

Collect the necessary documentation, which typically includes:

  • DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.
  • VA disability letter (for SDVOSB).
  • Corporate documents (articles of incorporation, operating agreements, etc.).
  • Business financial statements.
  • Business tax returns.
  • Ownership and control documentation.

Step 3: Create an SBA Account

Navigate to the Small Business Administration (SBA) website and create an account. This account will be your gateway to the online certification application. Ensure you provide accurate information during the account creation process.

Step 4: Complete the Online Application

Select the certification program (VOSB or SDVOSB) and complete the online application. Upload all required documents and double-check the accuracy of the information provided. This step is pivotal in moving forward with the certification process. You want to make sure there are no delays due to not providing all the required information.

Step 5: Obtain a D-U-N-S Number

If your business doesn’t have a Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (D-U-N-S) number, obtain one. This unique identifier is essential for government contracts and will strengthen your application.

Step 6: Register on SAM.gov

Register your business on the System for Award Management (SAM) website. This no cost registration is a prerequisite for federal government contracting and complements your VOSB or SDVOSB certification.  Importantly, this is a required registration to do business with the U.S. Government.

Step 7: Submit Your Application

Once your application is complete, submit it through the SBA’s online portal. This marks a crucial step toward unlocking exclusive contracting opportunities for your veteran-owned business.

Step 8: Await Verification and Approval

Patience is key as the SBA reviews your application. Be prepared for potential requests for additional information and respond promptly to expedite the certification process. So, please be sure to keep your eye on your emails from the SBA.

Step 9: Respond to Requests for Information

If the SBA requires additional information or clarification, respond promptly and efficiently. This responsiveness demonstrates your commitment to the certification process.

Step 10: Receive Your Certification

Upon approval, you’ll receive official certification as a VOSB or SDVOSB. This achievement opens doors to government contracts reserved only for veteran-owned businesses.

Step 11: Market Your Certification

Update your marketing materials, website, and government contracting databases to showcase your VOSB or SDVOSB status. This certification is a powerful tool in attracting both government and private-sector contracts.

For further support with this process, seek guidance from the SBA through your local Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) Program here.

Conclusion

Becoming certified as a VOSB or SDVOSB is a strategic move that not only honors your military service but also positions your business for success in the competitive world of government contracting. Follow these steps diligently, stay informed, and embrace the opportunities that come with being a certified veteran-owned business. We here at EGBI wish you good luck on your journey to unlocking new horizons for your entrepreneurial venture!

Please do not hesitate to reach out to EGBI’s Business Coach and Veteran Services Coordinator Monica Perras at perras@egbi.org or call her directly 737-239-0221.  A business coaching appointment is at no cost due to a contract with the City of Austin.

Find the Spanish version here.

Navigating Grants for Small Businesses


By Shamitha Ramanan

One valuable resource that can significantly impact the trajectory of a small business are grants. They offer the financial support required to fuel the growth of your business. In this article, we delve into various grants and grant platforms that could suit your business and the application process.

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

Each year, this competition grants $30,000 to 10 deserving business owners, with an added $20,000 grant awarded to a veteran entrepreneur selected from the pool of grand prize winners. To qualify, your business must be for-profit, employ fewer than 99 individuals, and possess a valid FedEx business shipping account number. This application opens on March 1, 2024, at 12pm ET and closes on April 1, 2024, at 12pm ET. Grant recipients will be announced on May 16, 2024. This grant application requires a short company bio with high-quality images that best represent your business and a two-minute video pitch.

National Association for Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants

Through the NASE Growth Grants program, your small business could secure up to $4,000 in funding. Grant applications undergo quarterly review according to the schedule posted on the NASE website. To qualify, membership in NASE is required, and applicants are asked to submit a business plan. Evaluation criteria for grant allocation include an assessment of the identifiable business need, a detailed plan for the use of grant funds, the potential for the grant to address the identified need, and the expected impact of the grant on the business.

Grants.gov

This database offers a broad spectrum of opportunities customized for small businesses and contains more than 1,000 federal grant programs. These grants are from a variety of government agencies and cater to a diverse range of entrepreneurial pursuits. With eligibility criteria and monetary value varying widely, these grants provide support across a broad spectrum of business endeavors.

GrantWatch

This database is similar to the one listed above and is an expansive online platform dedicated to listing hundreds of small-business grants sourced from across the United States. However, compared to the one above this is not through a variety of government agencies.

Citations

“FedEx Small Business Grants.” FedEx, www.fedex.com/en-us/small-business/grants.html. Accessed 1 Feb. 2024.

“$4,000 Business Grant #nase.” $4,000 Business Grant, www.nase.org/become-a-member/member-benefits/business-resources/growth-grants. Accessed 1 Feb. 2024.

“Search Grants.” Grants.Gov, www.grants.gov/search-grants. Accessed 1 Feb. 2024.

“Grants for Nonprofits, Businesses and Individuals-Grantwatch.” https://www.Grantwatch.com, www.grantwatch.com/. Accessed 1 Feb. 2024.

Find the Spanish version here.

A Can’t Miss Benefit: A Guide to Obtaining a Veteran Verification Letter in Texas

Starting a new business comes with its challenges, but if you’re a veteran in the state of Texas, there’s a unique opportunity to ease the burden. The Texas Veterans Commission Veteran Entrepreneur Program offers a Veteran Verification Letter (VVL), a powerful tool that not only recognizes your service but also provides tangible benefits. In this blog, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of obtaining a
VVL and unlocking significant cost-saving advantages.


Eligibility Check

Before diving into the application process, ensure you meet the eligibility criteria for the Veteran
Verification Letter. To qualify, you must have:
– An Honorable/General Under Honorable US Military Discharge
– 100% Veteran-Owned (can be more than one veteran owner)
– A new entity formation between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2025


Step 1: Requesting a VVL

1. Visit the Texas Veterans Commission website.

2. Click on the “Connect with a Business Consultant” button to initiate the process.

3. Complete the three-part questionnaire provided by the Texas Veterans Commission.


Step 2: Information Gathering

Prepare the following documents before initiating contact with a Business Consultant:
– DD214 – Member 4 or Service Copy 2: Ensure it shows discharge status.
– VA Letter of Service Disability: Must include branch of service, dates of service, and discharge status.
– NGB22 (Texas National Guard Only): For Texas National Guard members.
– Verification of any name changes: Include relevant documents like Marriage Certificates,
Divorce Decrees, etc.


Step 3: Contact with a Business Consultant


After completing the questionnaire, a Business Consultant from the Texas Veterans Commission will contact you directly. Be ready to share the gathered information and discuss your business plans.


Benefits of the Veteran Verification Letter.

Upon successful verification, you’ll receive a Veteran Verification Letter. This document holds significant advantages for your new business:
-Waived $300 Registration Fee: Say goodbye to the initial registration fee with the Secretary of
State.
-Five Years of State Franchise Tax Exemption: Enjoy the first five years of your business without the burden of state franchise tax.


Conclusion
Obtaining a Veteran Verification Letter through the Texas Veterans Commission can be a game-changer for your new business. Not only does it recognize your military service, but it also provides substantial financial benefits. Follow the steps outlined in this guide, and you’ll be on your way to unlocking opportunities that will make a meaningful difference in the early years of your entrepreneurial journey.
This is a great first step towards many more to come.


Thank you for your service, and best of luck with your new venture!


Please do not hesitate to reach out to EGBI’s Business Coach and Veteran Services Coordinator Monica
Perras at perras@egbi.org or call her directly 737-239-0221.  A business coaching appointment is at no
cost due to a contract with the City of Austin.

Find the Spanish version here.

Happy Employees Mean Better Business

By Audrey Stanton


From company-paid health care coverage to onsite child care, research shows that family-friendly
policies lead to higher employee attraction, retention, satisfaction, and productivity.


Are you curious to learn how you can make your company more attractive to working parents
and increase your revenue at the same time?


The newly launched Best Place for Working Parents® Greater Austin initiative from Early Matters
Greater Austin (EMGA) offers a free and confidential survey that you can complete online in under 5
minutes.


After completing the assessment, you will gain a real-time snapshot of how your business fares in
relation to other local companies. Businesses that qualify for the designation will have an immediate
opportunity to promote themselves as a designated Best Place for Working Parents®.

To learn more about the initiative and take the free assessment, click here to visit Early Matters.


Happier employees? More profitable business? It’s a win-win.

Find the Spanish version here.

Difference between LLC and a DBA with Larissa Davila

En este episodio abordamos las diferencias entre LLC (Compañía de Responsabilidad Limitada) y DBA (Haciendo Negocios Como). Un LLC ofrece una entidad legal separada que protege los activos personales del propietario de las responsabilidades comerciales, mientras que un DBA es un nombre comercial registrado que a menudo está vinculado al nombre y activos personales del propietario. Registrar un DBA en Texas implica acudir a la oficina del condado local, mientras que un LLC se puede registrar a nivel estatal a través de una base de datos.

Ambas opciones tienen ventajas y desventajas. Un LLC ofrece una mejor protección de los activos personales, pero puede ser más costoso de establecer, mientras que un DBA es más flexible pero deja al propietario personalmente responsable. Larissa aconseja consultar con profesionales para elegir la opción correcta y destaca la importancia de los contratos y el seguro, independientemente de la elección. Un LLC permite la transferencia del negocio, mientras que un DBA no. Además, presentar un negocio con un DBA a inversores puede ser menos atractivo debido al aumento de los riesgos de responsabilidad. La consideración cuidadosa y la investigación son esenciales antes de decidir entre LLC y DBA para un negocio.

Recordemos que es importante contar con buenos contratos y seguros, sin importar si el negocio es un LLC o un DBA. Es fundamental llevar un control de las finanzas y evitar mezclar los fondos comerciales y personales, ya que esto puede conducir a complicaciones legales y poner en riesgo el negocio.

Kandace Vallejo: Serve your community with a profitable business

Kandance Vallejo, the visionary behind Remedios Consulting, shares valuable insights on launching and growing successful businesses with a focus on interpersonal relationships and leadership coaching. Transitioning from business ownership to consulting, Vallejo emphasizes innovative thinking in overcoming challenges.

Kandance’s advice resonates with small businesses and nonprofits, emphasizing coaching in leadership. In contrast, in a podcast, she discusses her entrepreneurial journey, highlighting the importance of interpersonal relationships and coaching.

Addressing scaling challenges, Kandance advocates for early hiring to prevent burnout, collaborates with Tressa Rowland for profitable strategies in 2024, and advises prioritizing business intelligence and realistic planning. She underscores the significance of strong teams and effective leadership hiring, training, and support. Kandance emphasizes responsibility in training employees and suggests seeking operational support for sustainable growth.

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