Expert Advice: Fast Track Planning for Self-Employment
So what if you’re a Veteran who knows that he/she wants to go into business for themselves but maybe is not unsure which industry to select or which franchise in that sector to evaluate?
If you’re qualified for VA benefits one answer may be requesting the “Fast Track” method under the Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Program to help you decide your direction. Of course you must qualify for benefits including having at least a 20% Disability Rating. But if you are, a Veteran may opt to use a Fast Track plan for self-employment and pursue examining feasibility for their franchise ideas.
Fast Track planning allows for the identification of a specific vocational small business goal to be deferred. In other words, one can explore the viability and suitability of a franchise while simultaneously developing the feasibility of a particular business concept. Veterans could also develop their own plan for a franchise concept. But Fast Track planning may only be used by Veterans when self-employment is the primary focus of further rehabilitation planning.
Services provided under Fast Track can include:
Eligible payments include general education courses to support training requirements in the vocational goal for operating a franchise. Or other courses designed to provide insight into aspects of running a successful business, such as accounting, business management and/or economics. The advantage of Fast Track is that you can move forward on several entrepreneurial directions simultaneously.
Every Fast Track Individual Work & Rehabilitation Plan (IWRP) for a Veteran considering self-employment must include a referral to an advisor without conflicts, capable of providing sound business advice. In franchising that would include Franchise Consultants seeking a Franchise Fee from specific transaction(s). And any Franchise Fee by itself would be an ineligible cost. But referral to a professional business consultant with no conflict, either on a voluntary or contractual basis, to determine feasibility is necessary to complete an IWRP.
When it comes to supporting Veteran small business aspirations the VA Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) has made great strides in supporting Veterans.
Self-employment presents opportunities and challenges to all potential entrepreneurs. Veterans are no exception. The federal government supports veterans’ efforts to own their own businesses. VA has a special mission to act as an advocate in commercial and federal markets and ensure the Department meets certain goals in purchasing from veteran-owned small businesses. VA uses outreach and offers one-on-one coaching to carry out this mission. An estimated 3 million American veterans own their own businesses. Most could benefit from VA’s enterprising veteran support services.
Services VA offers:
- A toll-free call center (1-866-584-2344), where veterans, military personnel or their family members can talk one-on-one with a business coach about how to start or expand business;
- Information on business management, financing and marketing, as well as small-business conferences and business training opportunities;
- Information about legislation affecting veteran-owned business, including existing laws that require federal agencies to increase business opportunities for veterans by setting aside a certain portion of their purchasing dollars for veterans and service-disabled veterans;
- Inclusion in a Veteran business database for exposure to both commercial and government business, plus recognition as a verified veteran-owned of service-disabled veteran-owned small business.
VBS Founder and Managing Director, Jim Mingey, is a decorated Vietnam veteran raised from a proud military background. An entrepreneur for more than 35 years, Jim can relate on a personal level to the needs of the veteran small businessperson, and possesses the practical knowledge to implement his experience in today’s market. Jim participated in the EBV Program at Purdue University, is a mentor at American Corporate Partners, developed the first approved franchise training program for the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Program at Veterans Administration, and was instrumental in forming the first equity fund in the United States exclusively for veteran owned small businesses and franchises: The Veterans Opportunity Fund. Jim intends to keep on ‘advocating’ for veterans in franchising.