Helping veterans with the resources they need to get their business up and running is a great investment all around. This is because they are trained to adapt to new and evolving conditions with the ability to perform under pressure. As a result, they have leadership qualities that help them work well as part of a team environment. But most of all, they persevere.
While civilians may have some or even all of these qualities, vets are trained to go through scenario after scenario of adversity. This develops a mental toughness that doesn’t allow one to give up easily and persevere no matter what.
As a result, when vets become entrepreneurs these qualities deliver big-time towards their success. For example, vets make up less than one percent of the population, but close to 10% of leadership at firms in the U.S. This according to a Small Business Administration report.
The problem is almost 3 in 4 or 74% of veteran owners are over the age of 55. So, there needs to be more young vets opening their own business.
The good news is 200,000 servicemen and women are transitioning to civilian life every year. And a quarter of them say they want to start a business. As a result, there is some new blood coming into the pipeline. For this reason, having the resources they need in place is key to ensuring their success when they start a business.
Resources for Veteran Business Owners
Veteran Business Outreach Centers
The SBA provides assistance to veterans in their local communities through Veteran Business Outreach Centers. The centers can help veterans access resources such as business training, counseling and mentoring, right in their local communities.
Boots to Business
Boots to Business is another program of the SBA. It’s a two-step entrepreneurial training program that includes a two-day classroom course and an eight-week online course. It offers instruction on forming a business plan and other essential elements of early business ownership.
The Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA) is a rich resource of all things vet and military business.
The mission of VAMBOA is to ensure the development, growth and prosperity of Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners of all sizes.
If you are a veteran looking to open a business, VAMBOA is a great place to start. The site provides everything from business coaching information to finance, mentorship, contracts, events and more.
The VA’s VetBiz site provides information about the Center for Verification and Evaluation’s verification process for veteran owned businesses looking to gain eligibility for the VA’s Veterans First Contracting Program. As a result, any veteran-owned business looking for VA contracts set aside for veterans must first go through the verification process.
The VetToCEO program is a program which explores entrepreneurship as a career path for vets. This is a not for profit organization that supports veterans and transitioning military members so they can succeed in business ownership.
The core program lasts seven weeks and it is available for veterans and active guard and reserve military for free.
National Veteran Small Business Coalition
This organization supports veteran-owned small businesses. For example, it promotes policies that encourage the participation of veteran-owned businesses in federal contracting opportunities. While it specializes in providing access to federal contracting it does much more for vets.
The BusinessUSA Veterans Resource tool is an interactive guide to help vets find the most relevant federal, state and local tools to help start and grow their businesses.
Veteran Fast Launch Initiative
From SCORE, the Veteran Fast Launch Initiative provides mentoring and training, along with free software and other services, to military veteran entrepreneurs.
Veteran Entrepreneur Portal
A part of the VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal provides access to a number of business tools and services. This includes everything from business education to financing opportunities. The site also provides links and information related to government programs and services created specifically for veterans.
SBA Contracting Support for Small Businesses
The SBA also offers resources for service-disabled veteran-owned businesses looking to procure federal contracts. The SDVOSBC program allows procuring agencies to set aside contracts specifically for veteran-owned businesses.
VetBizCentral is a veteran-run site that assists veterans and active-duty military entrepreneurs. It does so through training and counseling, networking opportunities, mentoring and advocacy.
The Federal Business Opportunities website provides a portal for businesses looking for active federal contracting opportunities. However, it’s not specific to vet-owned businesses. But since some contracts are set aside for such businesses, it can be a useful resource for finding those opportunities.
Institute for Veteran and Military Families
A program of Syracuse University, IVMF provides a wide variety of resources for military veterans. There are plenty of resources specifically geared toward veterans re-entering the workforce or looking to start their own businesses.
The National Veteran-Owned Business Association is a membership-based program that advocates for vets. The association works as a watchdog to hold the federal government accountable to its veteran contractor mandates. Likewise, it encourages large businesses to work with veteran-owned small business vendors.
21 Gun Salute Initiative
The GSA’s program to support service-disabled veteran-owned businesses is known as the 21 Gun Salute Initiative. The initiative includes an action plan aimed at meeting or exceeding the goal of reserving 3% of contracts to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
Vetrepreneur Mentoring provides mentoring services to help vets with everything from contractor registration to website creation.
Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship is an organization that provides resources, courses and mentorship to female veterans who have started businesses or are looking to do so.
American Corporate Partners
This non-profit organization connects U.S. veterans to business leaders for mentorship and career advice. For example, the organization partners with businesses and institutions like Allstate, AT&T, Whirlpool, HP and many more to find mentors and assistance for vets.
EBV Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities offers experiential training in entrepreneurship and business management to post-9/11 veterans with service-related disabilities. The foundation provides grants to graduates of the program, help with business plan development, raising donations for participating schools and more.
Patriot Boot Camp
Presented by Techstars, Patriot Boot Camp is an accelerator program focused on helping military veterans and their spouses build technology companies. Open to all active-duty military members, veterans and their spouses, PBC’s main program is a 3-day event. The event provides participants with free education, training and mentorship.
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