Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Veterans Business Outreach Center?
The Veterans Business Outreach Center(s) (VBOC) are designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and mentoring, and referrals for eligible veterans owning or considering starting a small business. The SBA has 22 organizations participating in this cooperative agreement and serving as Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC). Each client is afforded the opportunity to work directly with a business counselor.
How do I qualify for VBOC services?
All U.S. military veterans (including Active Duty/ Guard / Reserves /Spouses and Survivors) qualify for VBOC services. The Office of Veterans Business Development's mission is to maximize the availability, applicability and usability of all administration small business programs for Veterans, Service-Disabled Veterans, Reserve Component Members, and their Dependents or Survivors. This is the website for the Mississippi State University Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC@MSU). The VBOC@MSU serves the following states:
If you are in another state, please consult the list of VBOC locations to determine which regional office to contact here: https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/vboc.
Why must I submit a Request for Counseling (Form 641, ERFC) before I can receive help?
The VBOC@MSU is legally required to get your written consent to receive counseling, training, and advice. This means that we cannot provide you with any assistance until you have submitted the ERFC. If you contact us and have not submitted the form, we can only give you general information, nothing specific to your situation. The Request for Counseling also serves as our Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest Agreements (provided for your security).
Are there fees/cost for the VBOC services?
No! The Veterans Business Outreach Center provides the counseling services free-of-charge. The counseling services include key elements such as pre-business plan workshops, concept assessment, and business plan development.
Who funds the Veteran Business Outreach Center?
The Veterans Business Outreach Centers were created by the U.S. Congress to enable men and women who have served in the Armed Forces to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by owning and operating their own business. Funding for the MSU-VBOC is provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD). The OVBD was established to help Veterans become full partners in the economic development through small business ownership.
Is Veteran Business Outreach Center part of the Veterans Administration (VA)?
No. We are an independent specialized program funded through a cooperative agreement by the Small Business Administration Office of Veterans Business Development to serve veterans in our three-state region (Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi), with starting or expanding their businesses.
What should I expect from the VBOC Counselors?
After reviewing your business concept in general the VBOC Counselor will guide you through the entrepreneurial process. Every good business starts and maintains a plan. The plan will includes choosing the appropriate legal form of the business, meeting equipment/capital requirements and determining cost, choosing the right organizational structure, creating a strategic plan, completing a market/SWOT analysis, and a drafting a financial plan. The Business Plan is the essential foundation for obtaining funding from lending institutions.
Why do I need a detailed Business Plan?
Most if not all financial institutions will not lend support to a business without, at minimum, a financial plan accounting for repayment of any debt obligations, required assets, operating costs, and contingencies for both failure and/or overwhelming success.
What type of legal structure should my business have?
It depends; the legal structure of your business has a lot to do with personal risk and liability related to assets, debt, and other obligations. Depending on the needs and legal requirements of your business, you may want to operate your business as a Partnership, Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), C Corporation, or S Corporation. The Corporations Division of the Secretary of State website in the state in which you will transact business is an excellent source for researching legal structure. The development of a Business Plan will most likely answer this question.
Does the VBOC lend money to open a small business?
No. The VBOC is not a lending institution and therefore, does not lend money to small businesses. A veteran will have to obtain financing through a bank, other financial institution, or other means. Financing options (SBA) will be discussed with Veteran during counseling including Small Business Administration loan guarantees.
What is the Small Business Administration (SBA)?
The United States Small Business Administration (SBA), established in 1953, provides technical, financial, and management assistance to help Americans start, run, and expand their businesses. With a portfolio of business loans, loan guarantees, and disaster loans, the SBA is the nation's largest single financial backer of small businesses. The SBA does not give loans to start businesses; they only guarantee a percentage of the loan to the bank (if you qualify). You must first apply to a bank that provides SBA guarantees. You can find out more by going to SBA.gov.
Are there grants available to open a business?
Currently, the VBOC is unaware of specific grants for veterans, or anyone for that matter, to open a for-profit business. Typically, grants go to non-profit social service, larger research and educational institutions. However, the VBOC advises that those veterans interested in grants search the Internet (www.grants.gov) and other financial publications for information. Please be aware of and research thoroughly the legitimacy of all organizations stating they can get you a grant (these are usually scams!).
Does a Veteran have advantages for Government Contracts?
In general, a percentage of all federal contracting dollars go to businesses owned by service disabled veterans. While both state and federal agencies are actively seeking service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB) as vendors, the road to successful federal contracting is a multi-year process and requires substantial registration and certification. Contact us to learn more about establishing a SDVOSB or a VOSB (Veteran Owned Small Business).