Guest opinion: SBA supports Utah’s veteran entrepreneurs and their families | News, Sports, Jobs

Current and former members of the military make great entrepreneurs. The resilience, determination and fortitude they acquired while in uniform is a great training ground for becoming a successful small business owner. Veteran-owned small firms are a critical part of the economy, employing over 5 million Americans and generating $1.3 trillion in total sales. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) plays an important role in supporting veterans and exiting service members achieve their dream of being their own boss.

November kicks off with National Veterans Small Business Week, which runs Oct. 30-Nov. 3. Throughout the month, we celebrate those veterans, service members, and military spouses who take the steps to realize their goal of small business ownership or start the process of becoming self-employed. This year, we recognize those veterans who not only served our nation but continue to serve their local communities by providing essential services in all industries from restaurants to high-tech.

As regional administrator, I not only work alongside Utah District Director Marla Trollan, but I am also a spouse of an Army veteran and granddaughter of two well-decorated Air Force officers in the United States and Indian Air Forces. I have personally witnessed the dedication and passion military veterans give back to their local neighborhoods, cities and towns. This dedication to community is a common thread among veterans across Utah and the nation.

Historically, veterans have been more likely to start a small business than non-veterans. Nearly 10% of all American businesses are owned by a veteran. Utah is home to more than 140,000 veterans, and many of them see entrepreneurship as a pathway to earning a good living and a way to support their families. Nearly 19,000 Utah veterans have made the jump to small-business ownership. The SBA is proud of its collaboration with the Utah governor’s office and local mayors and elected officials across the state who advocate for veteran entrepreneurs.

SBA encourages veterans, and transitioning service members and their families, to utilize its programs and services. Here are five SBA resources veterans can leverage when starting their own business.

1. Transition assistance: SBA and its resource partners support active duty and transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses through the Boots to Business and Reboot programs, part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program. This program provides free, high-level business training to participants.

2. Entrepreneurial training: Whether you’re a female veteran, service-disabled veteran or looking to learn business fundamentals, you can tap into SBA’s entrepreneurial training programs for help. Through the agency’s equity plan, we are ensuring all underserved communities, including our veteran population, have access to resources. The SBA’s resource partners include Women Business Outreach Centers that assist women in starting and growing small businesses; Small Business Development Centers that offer free, one-on-one counseling and low-cost training services; SCORE, a network of thousands of volunteer business counselors around the country that provides free in-person and online counseling as well as educational workshops; and Veteran Business Outreach Centers nationwide, which focus their training and counseling resources on veterans and their spouses.

3. Access to capital: SBA and its network of participating lenders and resource partners understand that access to capital may be a barrier for veterans starting or expanding their business. The first step is to find a commercial lender that participates in the SBA’s loan guaranty program. SBA’s Lender Match is a free online referral tool that connects small business owners with SBA participating lenders.

4. Government contracting: Are you looking to pursue federal government contracting opportunities to help grow your business? SBA and its partners have several programs to help veterans access both competitive and noncompetitive federal contracts. Veteran small businesses can compete for set-aside contracts at the Department of Veterans Affairs through the Veterans First Contracting program. Businesses must be verified as a veteran-owned small business or service-disabled veteran-owned small business to participate and must receive their verification through SBA’s VetCert program.

5. Your local SBA district office is an excellent place to start your journey in starting or expanding your business. The Utah District Office is in Salt Lake City, but you can follow their training opportunities on Twitter (X) @SBA_Utah and on the SBA Utah District Office LinkedIn page.

The SBA ardently supports our veteran entrepreneurs and their spouses. For more information on the agency’s programs and services, please visit and follow us on Twitter (X) @SBArockymtn and @SBA_Utah. Please share your business stories by using the hashtags #VetBiz and #MyVetBiz.

Aikta Marcoulier is the SBA’s regional administrator in Denver. She oversees the agency’s programs and services in Colorado, Montana, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Marla Trollan is the Utah District Director.


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