For veterans, particularly service-disabled, it is heartening to realize that Congress provides support beyond platitudes. In fact, veterans can compete for contracts that will help to grow and sustain small business ideas. One battle-scarred hero hopes to turn his model airplane hobby into a profitable enterprise making small remote control aircraft. He intends to apply for Department of Homeland Security contracts. A brief list of three options will be iterated in this essay, along with an explanation of how they will be more beneficial in a small-business scenario over a multinational corporation.
An excellent starting point for determining funding opportunities is to research respected business periodicals. For example, an article in Forbes magazine offers advice on three types of grants specifically aimed at small businesses including two through Homeland Security – the Small Business Innovation Research Project (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) (Hecht, 2016). The purpose of both of these programs is to encourage investment by small businesses, versus large companies, in research and development that will further scientific entrepreneurship, that will have the added benefit of becoming commercially viable. The latter funding, STTR, also provides the recipient with the added benefit of working alongside such venerable organizations as NASA or the National Science Foundation.
In fact, one peer-reviewed article supports the pursuit of funding particularly through the SBIR. The researchers explain they undertook a study to determine which fiscal resources were best suited, and most often pursued, by small business owners in search of capital to get themselves up and running (Elston & Audretsch, 2009). Their empirically-driven investigation ultimately determined the three most common sources of money used by small business owners were the SBIR, credit cards and a full-time job from which money was siphoned to support the pursuit of a personal interest such as what the veteran in this essay has considered. It must be pointed out that there are 28 million small businesses in this country, and they have typically driven the economic success of America, hence the purpose for the government’s continued efforts to support and encourage them.
The Wall Street Journal is another trusted resource from which to draw guidance and business advice. One writer explains small business start-ups are often unaware of the funding opportunities available to them through the federal government (Lee, 2011). This puts them at a disadvantage because there is a veritable wealth of support one is able to garner from such resources as the Department of Homeland Security, currently under consideration for this particular essay, and other government organizations as well – such as the Small Business Association (SBA). Lee suggests small business owners take the time to familiarize themselves with the breadth of funding sources designed particularly to support small business in this country.
A brief perusal of the Department of Homeland Security homepage, inputting small business contracts in the search bar, reveals anyone interested in doing business with the federal government must meet stiff requirements. This includes registering as a federal contractor, getting a DUNS number, and registering with the SAM. The DHS lists their acquisition forecast, allowing small businesses to determine where ingress could exist for matching services to funds. It is important to note not all grants are available to small businesses, and some are available only to small businesses, women-owned businesses, and minority owned companies.
One final grant provided through DHS is the Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB) opportunities. As the title suggests, these are aimed for this particular segment of the U.S. population, both as a way to thank service veterans, and as a set-aside for those returning from service who are looking to give-back to the country themselves.