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StreetShares Blog - The Resource Center for Veteran Small Businesses

StreetShares Blog

The Resource Center for Veteran Small Businesses

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Highlighting Our Heroes: Invest in Veteran Small Business

The United States of America will turn 241 years old next week on the Fourth of July. Since its birth, millions have served in the military. As of 2014, there are 21.8 million veterans in the armed forces, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Even more, veterans account for 9 percent of small business in the U.S., according to the SBA.

We honor our heroes every day by working with veteran business owners and helping fund their businesses through term loans, lines of credit, contract financing and veteran business grants. This week, we’re highlighting extraordinary veteran business owners who have founded companies that give back to the community, whether it’s through charities, consumer products, lifestyle coaching, mental health, venture capital or medicine.

Learn more about each hero below, at highlightingourheroes.com and on iHeart Radio’s BIG 100 local Washington, DC radio station or stream online at 5:00pm eastern every week day. Inspired by these stories and want to help veteran businesses? You can start by investing in them by opening a Veteran Business Bonds* account and earn 5% interest. 

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Special Government Contracting Programs for Veteran-owned Businesses

By StreetShares on June 21, 2017

Veteran business owners and entrepreneurs interested in doing business with the U.S. Government need to understand the programs and preferences that have been established to support veteran participation in federal government contracting.

Let us help you understand the preference programs established for veteran-owned businesses and explain the distinctions and differences between the Veterans First Program established by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the government-wide Service Disabled Veteran-owned Small Business Concern Program administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Qualifying as a Veteran

A Veteran is a person who served on active duty with the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard for any length of time, and was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable. A reservist or member of the National Guard called to federal active duty, or disabled from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty or while training also qualifies as a Veteran.

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Highlighting Our Heroes: Support Veteran Small Business by Investing

With the Fourth of July approaching, we’re celebrating and honoring military veterans who continue to make an impact in our country with the businesses they’re running. Our heroes this week feature veteran business owners in business consulting, mental health, drone services, government contracting and subscription services.

Learn more about each hero below and on iHeart Radio’s BIG 100 local Washington, DC radio station or stream online at 5:00pm eastern every week day. Subscribe to the StreetShares blog to see who is featured next week.   

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When Should You Cash Out Your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)?

By StreetShares on June 15, 2017

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt Bobby Yarbrough) (This image was manipulated using filters.)

If you have a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), you probably signed up for it at the start of your military career, and by now are dimly aware that a percentage of your monthly income contributes to the plan. But since it’s always been that way, you haven’t thought much about it.

Now you’re transitioning. Do you know how much you’ve saved for retirement, whether you should “roll over” your TSP into an employer 401(k) plan, and what all these acronyms and numbers mean? Here are quick answers to all your questions about the TSP, and how to decide whether to cash it out or not.

What is the TSP?

The TSP is a special type of Individual Retirement Account (IRA) maintained by the federal government and offered to federal employees.

Although service members have a 20-year pension plan, they can use the TSP as an alternate or supplemental plan. The TSP is a good deal because the federal government pays the administrative costs of the plan, so your money is never subject to fees for trading, account transfers or anything else.

It’s basically a free IRA for service members and other federal employees.

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Highlighting Our Heroes: Veteran Businesses & Government Contracting

This week’s military and veteran heroes come from backgrounds in intelligence, entrepreneurship, small business and government contracting. Learn about their stories in deployment overseas and what they’re doing now back in the United States to continue to serve their country. Our heroes this week include StreetShares members such as StreetShares Foundation finalists and supporters of the veteran small business community.

Join us in ‘Highlighting Our Heroes’ with iHeart Radio and the StreetShares community, by learning about them and sharing their stories. Tune in to BIG 100 in the Washington, DC metro region each weekday at 5:00pm eastern or stream online at iheartmedia.com to hear stories of our veterans, service members and military families. Subscribe to the StreetShares blog to be the first to know who we’re featuring.

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May Veteran Business Grants Awarded to Military Spouse Business Owners

Last month, we recognized 10 Military Spouse business owners as finalists in StreetShares Foundation’s Veteran Small Business Awards. Now is the time to announce the winners! We’re proud to give Military Spouse business owners the recognition they deserve. As the foundation of military families around the world, they’re not only caring for families at home, but are also talented and driven individuals who have founded businesses that support their military lifestyles.

First Place: Brooke Barnes, Air Force Military Spouse, Co-founder of Edge Co-Working (Clovis, New Mexico)

Second Place: Kathryn Thomas, Navy Veteran and Military Spouse, CEO of Yoga 4 Change (Jacksonville, Florida)

Third Place: Abbey Sass, Army Military Spouse, Co-founder of Civil Sass (Chatfield, Minnesota)

We're proud to represent these amazing military spouse business owners through the Veteran Small Business Award and look forward to growing with their businesses as they need business loans, lines of credit and government contract financing.

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Highlighting Our Heroes: Featuring 10 StreetShares Members

Honoring our veterans and military heroes is something we do every day at StreetShares. We’re starting the summer strong by continuing our ‘Highlighting Our Heroes’ campaign with iHeart Media.

You’ve heard stories from veteran small business owners who have taken advantage of our veteran business loans, lines of credit and government contract financing solutions to veteran business supporters who invest in these small businesses through their Veteran Business Bonds investment accounts.

This week, we’ve got several stories from finalists and winners who have participated in the StreetShares Foundation Veteran Small Business Award contest. Their unique backgrounds and military experience has helped them each to become successful veteran entrepreneurs. If you missed last week’s heroes, we’ve got them highlighted here, too.

Tune in to BIG 100 in the Washington, DC metro region each weekday at 5:00pm eastern or stream online at iheartmedia.com to hear stories of our veterans, service members and military families. Subscribe to the StreetShares blog to be the first to know who we’re featuring.

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Government Contract Financing: How Does Mobilization Funding Work?

Many think only very large companies can do business with the government, which is untrue. Congress sees how important small businesses are to the U.S. economy and has set aside goal measures for each department to purchase goods and services from small businesses and veteran-owned small businesses.  

However, being a government contractor as a small business owner takes an enormous amount of work and lots of steps to be successful. We put together an ebook, The Government Contractor’s Handbook,” in partnership with FedBid, GovTribe and WinBiz Proposals to help you every step of the way. It covers topics such as teaming up, working with a contracting officer, contract financing, proposal basics, bidding for a contract and managing your sales process. 

The Government Contractor's Handbook

Today, we’re going to go over one of the most important steps in government contracting – government contract financing and how you can mobilize funding alongside your accounts receivables financing. Without small business contract financing, you’ll find it hard to fulfill those government contracts. Some business owners look toward avenues that aren’t sustainable for their business. Traditional bank loans ask for collateral that add a huge personal risk. Credit cards have high rates and the limits are far below what you need to finance a government contract. Giving up equity and ownership can affect your preferred veteran status. 

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Highlighting Our Heroes: Featuring Veteran Business Influencers

During Armed Forces Day, we honor everyone serving in all branches of the United States military. President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish this holiday and in 1961, John F. Kennedy declared Armed Forces Day a national holiday that is celebrated on the third Saturday of May.

“Our Servicemen and women are serving throughout the world as guardians of peace–many of them away from their homes, their friends and their families. They are visible evidence of our determination to meet any threat to the peace with measured strength and high resolve. They are also evidence of a harsh but inescapable truth–that the survival of freedom requires great cost and commitment, and great personal sacrifice.”

– President John F. Kennedy, 1963

With Memorial Day approaching, we continue to ‘Highlight Our Heroes’ and StreetShares members, veteran business owners and investors with iHeart Media as we feature veterans from each military branch. Tune in to BIG 100 in the Washington, DC metro region each day this week a 5:00pm Eastern or stream online at iheartmedia.com to hear their stories. 

Subscribe to the StreetShares blog to be the first to know who is featured each week at highlightingourheroes.com.

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Forget Silicon Valley: 5 Reasons Veteran Entrepreneurs Launch Startups In Unexpected Places

The US Navy Blue Angels numbers 5 and 6 fly near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California as part of a practice run for Fleet Week on October 6, 2016. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

This article was originally published in Forbes. 

I recently read a list of the 10 best cities to launch a startup. It included the places you’d expect: Silicon Valley, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Tel Aviv, London, Chicago, Seattle, Berlin and Singapore.

My co-founder and I launched our startup, StreetShares, outside of Washington, DC, which was not on the list. For two years now, people have been telling us to move our company to Silicon Valley. Even now, I write this article on a plane heading back from investor meetings in San Francisco where we were told we should move, yet again. We’ve resisted.

Here’s why many entrepreneurs, particularly “vetrepreneurs” (those with military experience like us), choose to launch their startups away from the conventional hotspots.

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