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What support is available to military veterans starting a business?

Military veterans have unique skills that can make them ideal business owners – from their attention to detail and discipline to the problem-solving skills honed during their service.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that around 340,000 companies in the UK opens in new window are run by ex-military personnel.

But when starting your own business, soft skills are only part of the equation; you also need support to get your project off the ground opens in new window.

Fortunately, there is plenty of support for veterans when starting a business.

Find out the resources you can use to help your business thrive – from business loans opens in new window and grants opens in new window to training opportunities opens in new window.



As your business grows, there might be a time when you need extra financial support.

There are various sources to fund your start-up – from banks, credit unions, and private funders to public bodies.

You might also get financial backing from providers that work specifically with ex-military personnel.

Here are some of the available options.


Specialised loans for veterans

The most common funding options are business loans.

You’ll receive a lump sum that can help your business grow.

They’re often used to cover upfront costs, such as putting down a deposit for rent opens in new window or purchasing equipment opens in new window.

You can apply for a bank or credit union loan from any provider, but veterans should also consider specialist loan providers such as X-Forces Enterprise. opens in new window

The company is the Armed Forces Community Business Support Partner for the Start Up Loans scheme opens in new window.

It offers unsecured personal loans and financial support for veterans.

Learn more about X-Forces Enterprise loan options opens in new window.


Trade credit

Organisations looking for support buying materials, equipment or services could benefit from trade credit opens in new window.

It’s a type of short-term commercial financing, with one business opening a line of credit for another.

This agreement can give you immediate access to resources, and you can pay off the debt in instalments.

Read about the advantages and disadvantages of trade credit opens in new window.



For a community-driven financing option, you can consider crowdfunding opens in new window.

It works by allowing large numbers of people to invest in your start-up business idea in small, affordable amounts.

These contributions can soon add up, helping you reach your funding goal.

You can start a crowdfund by speaking to friends, family, and other people you know or by listing your business on platforms such as CrowdCube opens in new window and Seedrs opens in new window.



Businesses can also receive financial support by applying for a grant opens in new window.

It’s a type of funding that doesn’t need to be paid back.

The government operates some grants, whereas others are available from charities, foundations, and private corporations.

Grants are usually available for a limited time and allocated based on specific criteria.

It could be helpful to regularly check for new grants that you’re eligible to receive.

Here are some resources to help you get started.


Royal British Legion

The Royal British Legion offers grants to support ex-service personnel in their professional careers.

One of its most popular schemes is the Employment Grant programme opens in new window.

These grants are awarded with support from the Forces Employment Charity opens in new window, and they provide funding for training and skills development.

Take a look at the Royal British Legion grants opens in new window.


Barriers To Start Up

The Barriers To Start Up Grant is a £1 million fund that helps veterans who are currently unemployed to start a business.

Grant recipients can be awarded up to £2,000, as well as one-to-one advice and other resources.

The programme is available to businesses registered in Wales, and it’s funded by Business Wales opens in new window with support from The British Training Board opens in new window.

Learn more about the Barriers To Start Up Grant opens in new window.


The UK Government

The UK Government provides a regularly updated list of grants opens in new window and other funding opportunities.

Local councils often award these grants and are available to businesses in the region, whereas others are available nationally.

The Welsh government provides a similar list on its Business Grants opens in new window website, while Enterprise Ireland opens in new window and Scotland’s Funding Opportunities opens in new window also offer grants.


Training and mentoring

Supporting your business can be about more than finding financial assistance; you could also benefit from hands-on expert guidance.

You may need a broad range of skills to manage each part of your business – from accounting opens in new window to sales opens in new window – and support in upskilling can help you develop during the early stages of your start-up.

Here are some programmes that can help veterans gain essential business skills.


Veteran Founders programme

The Veteran Founders programme helps new business owners connect with a network of mentors.

It’s run by Eagle Labs, a community resource scheme created by Barclays, and it provides a space for business owners to share ideas and gain new skills.

Members of the scheme can speak with mentors and coaches and attend events to hear from industry experts.

Barclays created the Veteran Founders programme to provide dedicated support for serving and former military personnel, reservists, and the wider armed forces community.

Learn more about Veteran Founders opens in new window.


Learn with Start Up Loans

Start Up Loans has partnered with The Open University to create a range of business training courses.

The Learn with Start Up Loans programme covers topics such as digital skills, bookkeeping, and accounting.

It’s available to everyone and is designed to help start-up owners understand what it takes to run a business.

Get started with the Learn with Start Up Loans programme opens in new window.


Learn with Start Up Loans and help get your business off the ground

Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with the Open University on being an entrepreneur.

Our free Learn with Start Up Loans courses opens in new window include:

Plus free courses on finance and accounting, project management, and leadership.


Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

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