Veteran entrepreneurs are increasingly showing their capacity to launch and grow successful startups. Military veterans are among the most esteemed individuals in the United States today as they have done a tremendous job serving our country as well as providing protection to other countries all around the world. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 22 million veterans living in the United States. When returning to civilian life, many aspire to become veteran entrepreneurs and start their own businesses. Of the approximately 28 million businesses in the United States, about 2.4 million (8.5 percent) are owned by veteran entrepreneurs. You can find veteran entrepreneurs launching startups in every industry sector including manufacturing, consulting, service industries, technology, safety and much more.
To reward these veterans for their outstanding services, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and other governmental agencies are providing support for veteran entrepreneurs who want to launch their own startups. Veteran entrepreneurs who startup a business ventures are continuing to serve their country well as create new jobs in their respective communities and improve the economy one job at a time. Here are some useful resources for aspiring veteran entrepreneurs:
1. Office of Veterans Business Development: The Office of Veterans Business Development focuses on veterans starting up small business ventures. The mission of this office is to enhance availability usability of small business programs for all veteran classifications. These classifications include:
- Service-disabled Veterans
- Active-duty Service Members
- Dependents and Survivors
The SBA provides entrepreneurial programs that come complete with classes conducted by experienced entrepreneurs as well as online instructor-led courses that teach individuals that teach many customized courses on topics such as:
- Cultivation of Connections within Commercial Supply Chains
- Preparation for Opportunities in Federal Procurement
- Access to Capital
2. Boots to Business (B2B): The SBA also provides a two-step entrepreneurial program that allows veterans to use their passion and drive of protecting our country and using those traits to build successful business ventures. The B2B two-step program begins with an Introduction to Entrepreneurship Course where experienced entrepreneurs teach veterans, spouses, and survivors among others the basics of building a business and determining feasibility.
The second step in the Program features an 8-week course on Foundations of Entrepreneurship. This program is a more advanced B2B curriculum that instructs individuals on building entrepreneurial ventures based on capital and federal contracting opportunities.
3. Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (VWISE): For female veteran entrepreneurs, there is the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (VWISE) program. This 3-phased program offers a comprehensive guide on how female veterans and spouses can establish good startup ventures based on their passions and skills. The 3-phased program includes:
- Phase 1. 5 days of online lessons and tutorials on entrepreneurial management.
- Phase 2. 3-day entrepreneurship training event complete with multiple activities conducted by noted entrepreneurs.
- Phase 3. Includes ongoing mentorships, training, and other support activities for graduates looking to launch a startup business venture.
4. Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs): Aside from offering a multitude of other amazing programs on veteran entrepreneurship, the SBA also offers an excellent outreach service in their Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs). This outreach resource provides essential support and help to veterans with who have put up business startups. This support provides training, planning, and mentorship across all stages of their business startups. The VBOCs support service is currently available across the nation, which makes it easy for all veteran entrepreneurs to receive expert entrepreneurial advice anytime and anywhere.
5. The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs Veteran Entrepreneur Portal: The VA also supports veteran entrepreneurs through its Veteran Entrepreneur Portal. This comprehensive website aims to serve as a ‘one-stop’ shop of resources to assist veteran entrepreneurs in achieving the goals of launching and growing their startups. The portal covers everything from launching a startup, accessing financing, growing a business and even accessing government contracting opportunities.
If you are a U.S. military veteran and aspiring veteran entrepreneur, the five resources above will help put you on a path towards realizing your dream. If you have questions, contact me today and let’s talk!