VBOC Staff & Host Organization

The vision of the VBOC at Pathway Lending is to be a key player that connects current and former military members who are, or aspire to be, entrepreneurs with the resources they need to be successful.

What is a Veterans Business Outreach Center?

The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and mentoring, and referrals for eligible veterans owning or considering starting a small business. The SBA has 22 organizations participating in this cooperative agreement and serving as Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC). VBOCs conduct entrepreneurial development workshops dealing specifically with the common pitfalls of entrepreneurship and how to best mitigate risk through the entrepreneurial process. To learn more, click here.

How do I qualify for VBOC services?

If you are:
• U.S. military veteran
• Active duty members
• Guard & Reserves
• Spouses
• Survivors
• Resident of Tennessee and Kentucky

You can receive technical assistance from the VBOC at Pathway Lending. The Office of Veterans Business Development’s mission is to maximize the availability, applicability and usability of all administration small business programs for Veterans and their spouses. Therefore, if you are in another state, please consult the list of VBOC locations to determine which regional office to contact here.

Why must I submit a Request for Counseling (Form 641) before I can receive help?

The VBOC at Pathway Lending is legally required to get your written consent to receive counseling, training, and advice. This means that we cannot provide you with any assistance until you have submitted the Electronic Request for Counseling (ERFC). If you contact us and have not submitted the form, we can only give you general information, nothing specific to your situation. The Request for Counseling also serves as our Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest Agreements (provided for your security). To become a VBOC Member at Pathway, create an account and sign your electronic request for counseling here.

Are there fees /cost for the VBOC services?

No. The Veterans Business Outreach Center provides technical assistance at no cost.

The Veterans Business Outreach Centers were created by U.S. Congress to enable men and women who have served in the Armed Forces to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by owning and operating their own business. Funding for the VBOC at Pathway Lending is provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD).
The OVBD was established to help Veterans become full partners in the economic development through small business ownership. Learn more about OVBD here.

Is Veteran Business Outreach Center part of the Veterans Administration (VA)?

No. We are an independent specialized program funded through a cooperative agreement by the Small Business Administration Office of Veterans Business Development to serve veterans in Tennessee and Kentucky with starting or expanding their businesses.
The VA has a program called Vocational Rehab, and you can learn more here.

What is the Small Business Administration (SBA)?

The United States Small Business Administration (SBA), established in 1953, provides technical, financial, and management assistance to help Americans start, run, and expand their businesses. With a portfolio of business loans, loan guarantees, and disaster loans, the SBA is the nation’s largest single financial backer of small businesses. The SBA does not give loans to start businesses; they only guarantee a percentage of the loan to the bank (if you qualify). You must first apply to a bank that provides SBA guarantees. To find SBA Lenders, click here.

What should I expect?

The VBOC will analyze what stage of business you are in. Your stage of business will determine the type of technical assistance provided. Different stages require different assistance, but all point towards developing or revisiting a viable and realistic business plan. We have a network built in our entrepreneurial ecosystem and will connect you to the right resource for your stage, or we assist you with the technical aspects of your business plan.

Why do I need a detailed Business Plan?

Most if not all financial institutions will not lend support to a business without, at minimum, a financial plan accounting for repayment of any debt obligations, required assets, operating costs, and contingencies for both failure and/or overwhelming success.

It depends; the legal structure of your business has a lot to do with personal risk and liability in regards to assets, debt, and other obligations. Depending on the needs and legal requirements of your business, you may want to operate your business as a Partnership, Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), C Corporation, or S Corporation. The Corporations Division of the Secretary of State website in the state which you will transact business is an excellent source for researching legal structure. The development of a Business Plan will most likely answer this question. Don’t take this lightly, and consulting a lawyer and accountant should be considered.

Does the VBOC lend money to open a small business?

No. The VBOC is not a lending institution and therefore, does not lend money to small businesses. A veteran will have to obtain financing through a bank, other financial institution, or other means. Financing options will be discussed during consulting. This will include Small Business Administration loan guarantees and microloans.

Pathway Lending is a Community Development Financial Institution, and focuses their efforts on mission driven lending and entrepreneurial education. The VBOC fits within the realm of entrepreneurial education for VBOC Members. In addition, Pathway Lending also has a Women’s Business Center, and works closely with the VBOC, offering special rates and tuition discounts.

Are there grants available to open a business?

Grants are very hard to come by for start-ups. Many of the grants we have seen are reserved for businesses in operation. For more information, check out a list of grants here.

Does a Veteran have advantages for Government Contracts?

In general, a percentage of all federal contracting dollars goes to businesses owned by service disabled veterans. While both state and federal agencies are actively seeking service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB) as vendors, the road to successful federal contracting is a multi-year process and requires substantial registration and certification. To learn more, click here.

The Veterans Business Outreach Center is housed at Pathway Lending, a non-profit based in Nashville, Tennessee with a mission of providing underserved businesses with lending solutions and educational services that result in job creation and economic development.

The VBOC at Pathway Lending will provide in-depth business consulting, classroom training, and online education on topics such as strategies for business expansion, cash flow management, and access to capital.