TAO Self-help

Title:You are a Vet. You are starting a business. What's First? What's Next?

Author:National Veteran Small Business Coalition

Date:February 2013


As a service member you acquired the basics of a good business owner - discipline, dedication, creativity, and problem solving skills. Now you are looking to sell your product ideas and services back to the Federal government. This often means finding the right mentorship and business model.

For Veterans continuing to serve their nation through entrepreneurship and selling goods and services to the Federal government The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999 established a 3% annual government contracting goal for service-disabled Veterans-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs). The Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 allows Federal contracting officers to restrict competition to SDVOSBs and award a sole source or set-aside contract where certain criteria are met. Presidential Executive Order 13360, signed in October 2004, calls for a significant increase in Federal contracting and subcontracting opportunities for SDVOSBs. This helps, but is neither a right nor an entitlement there's a lot that you have to do.

Many Federal agencies continue to fall short of these congressionally mandated acquisition goals. Veteran small business advocacy groups such as the National Veteran Small Business Coalition (NVSBC) make it their mission to ensure that Veteran businesses are given first consideration for Federal prime and subcontracting procurement opportunities. At their annual outreach event, the Veteran Entrepreneur Training Symposium (VETS), the NVSBC's event recognizes Federal agencies and prime contractors that met or exceeded the 3% goal of providing opportunities to Veteran-Owned (VOSBs) and SDVOSBs. Winners for 2013 will be announced in the spring, but you can take a look at the 2012 award recipients right here to get an idea who are the VOSB/SDVOSB contracting stars in the government.

What does that mean for you? There are many Veterans striving to do business with the Federal government and to be successful, you need to stand apart from the crowd. Our advice to keep you on course and stay ahead in the Federal contracting arena?

  • Network More. Connect with peers, colleagues, and Federal agencies and build the relationships that can help grow your business.
  • Make Personal Connections. Take advantage of one-on-one sessions and meet face-to-face with Primes and Federal agencies.
  • Stay Updated. Hear the latest small business news and trends from leading industry experts during expert panel discussions and roundtables.
  • Be at the Right Place at the Right Time. Team up with the perfect company; find primes and partners that need to meet their contracting goals.
  • Beat the Competition: Gain a competitive advantage receiving up-to date and relevant news first hand in a fast changing Federal market.
  • Reach a Group: Join a community of business professionals aiming to advance Veteran businesses.
  • Listen to Your Customer: The Government customers tell you what they need and when they plan to buy.
  • Think Big by Thinking Small: Get past performance. The Department of Defense alone spends more than $9B per year in simplified acquisitions. That's a lot of ways to show what you can do and earn the right to larger procurements.

There is no easy and one fits all solution to become successful in government contracting. But remember that you are not alone. Your fellow Veteran entrepreneurs are eager to share, learn, and grow with you every step of the way.

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