Home Career and Education How Veterans, Small Businesses, and Government Can Work Together

How Veterans, Small Businesses, and Government Can Work Together


Life after military can be difficult for any veteran. Those that have been disabled during their service are challenged even more. Veterans often have trouble finding employment after getting out of the service, just imagine the hardships of starting a small business. But, despite this, veterans own over two million businesses in the United States. A large portion of those veterans are service-disabled. Fortunately, these veterans can work with the government to help generate revenue for their companies.

The U.S. government sets aside specific federal contracts for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs).

On October 20, 2004, President Bush signed Executive Order 13360 which increases federal contracting opportunities for SDVOSBs. This Order directly mandates that at the very least three percent of all federal contracting dollars go to businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. For anybody unfamiliar with how large government contracts can be, three percent is no figure to laugh at: the individual contracts can be between $2,500 and $100,000.

How do Government Contracts Work?

Government contracts get awarded to companies based on a bidding system. For example, if the local government needs a cleaning service for its buildings, they’ll put out a contract, and then companies will compete and bid. Bidding is where a company makes an offer to perform the service for a certain price. The contract will go to the company who bids the lowest while still being able to maintain the parameters of the contract, which often includes decent wages for workers, stable work environments, and other workers’ rights.

Sometimes, contracts are much too large, in the billions, for small businesses to bid for, but within those contracts there are subcontracts can also be acquired.  For example, if a large corporation wins a product-related bid and needs to provide a large variety of products to an agency, but doesn’t have a certain product, a small business can be subcontracted.

What are the Advantages of Government Contracts?

The main benefit is generating previously untapped revenue for your small business. If you run that cleaning service mentioned earlier, bid $5,000 on a contract, and win – that $5,000 is yours for your services or products. Getting a government contract is much like pursuing a customer in the commercial world. Both want quality products or services delivered in a timely manner. Be careful, though, bid too high on a contract and you’ll lose it entirely; bid too low and your business will not make a profit even if you win.

There are rumors that the government puts a ton of rules and regulations on contracts that makes them too difficult to deal with, but this is most certainly not always the case. Government agencies are actually actively pursuing SDVOSBs for their products or services.

How do You know if You’re Qualified?

The Small Business Administration has a program called the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern Program (SDVOSBC) that creates a criterion for federal contractors to determine SDVOSB status. That ensures that the contracts set aside for SDVOSBs go to SDVOSBs.

The criteria can be found here. In short, the veteran that owns the business must have a service-related disability, the business must be small, the veteran must own more than 50% of the business, the veteran must control management and operations, and the veteran must be the head honcho of the business.

The contracts set aside for SDVOSBs are one way that the government is saying “thank you for your service”. So, look into registering your small business, veterans. There are bid notification tools that you can utilize to keep track of government contracting opportunities. Don’t forget to search for opportunities within your local or state government, as they will more than likely be glad to help a SDVOSB.

Jeremy Higbee loves to snowboard in Park City when the white stuff is falling. When he’s not shredding on the slopes he writes about local news, opportunities, and business. Jeremy unabashedly loves government policies and government bid opportunities.

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