Starting a business can be daunting. One of the biggest obstacles to getting started can be capital–where do you get the money to start? Equipment, raw materials, inventory–and that’s just the beginning!
While there are certainly ways you can raise money and attract investors, you may also qualify for certain loans and scholarships just for small businesses.
Here are a few loan options that, depending on your goals and situation, might be a good fit for you!
National Military Family Association Spouse Scholarship
A scholarship for your business? No, really!
The National Military Family Association (NMFA) spouse scholarship offers between $500 and $2500 to eligible military spouses that you can put toward the following:
- Professional licensing (including certifications and re-licensure)
- Supervised clinical hours
- Business expenses
- Continuing education
You also get the benefit of a built-in community: recipients enjoy access to a supportive virtual network of fellow recipients.You may also be eligible for additional funding just for military spouses through NMFA partners!
If you’re worried about setting aside the time to get started or whether you qualify, NMFA prides themselves on their inclusive, straightforward application process!
US Small Business Administration Loans
The US Small Business Administration (SBA) offers loans to entrepreneurs who are getting started, or who are looking to grow their business.
Now, to get started, you don’t need to go right to the SBA. You apply through an approved SBA lender to secure your loan. Depending on the loan you receive, you may also be eligible for counseling and education support as you work to improve your business. Some loans also come with lower down payments or no collateral requirements.
There are a few different types of SBA loans, depending on what type of funding you need:
The most common type of SBA loan, it tends to be most suited for businesses that have real estate needs or requirements. However, you can use them for other things, including refinancing, purchasing furniture or supplies, and working capital both in the short and long-term.
These loans are intended for assets that are intended to create jobs and grow your business. You can’t use them for working capital, but you can use them to purchase or improve facilities, as well as the purchase of machinery, equipment, and more.
An SBA microloan is what it sounds like–their smallest loan. They’re intended to start or expand a small business, and on average come to about $13,000.
Put the funds to use if you need to rebuild or re-open your business, to repair equipment or fixtures, or to enhance or improve your business.
There are also a variety of grants, funding, and investment programs available to the military and veteran community for which spouses are eligible.
One example is the StreetShares Foundation Military Entrepreneur Challenge. Submit a short video pitch with your application, and then people can vote on the 8-15 selected finalists. The entrants with the top 3 highest votes present their pitch in person at the StreetShares Foundation Entrepreneurship Coaching Event.
These finalists are evaluated on a variety of factors, including personal story, the intended use of the funds, and the potential impact on the military community. First, second, and third place winners are awarded $15,000, $6,000, and $4,000, respectively.
Get the Funding You Deserve
Military spouses face numerous hurdles when it comes to starting, expanding, and growing a business. Fortunately, numerous tools, resources, and programs exist to help them get a leg up.
The challenges that exist for military spouses don’t have to be insurmountable. By researching and applying for the money that exists out there for small, spouse-owned businesses, you can achieve your goals and take your organization to the next level.