According to the U.S. Census Bureau, military veterans own almost two million businesses and employ over five million Americans. The transferable skills and experience veterans have through military service, including leadership and team building, all encompass the attributes of a successful business owner. Veterans are capable of working under intense pressure and maintaining the discipline and responsibility needed to make their business idea a reality.
However, creating and developing a veteran-owned small business is a unique process. In order to grow and develop, these businesses often need resources to help get them started.
Challenges faced by veteran-owned small businesses
Owning a small business is not a small feat. Veteran-owned small businesses share the same concerns as other small businesses — and then some.
For example, according to the MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index, two main concerns reported by veteran-owned small businesses — such as hiring the right talent — were the same concerns as non–veteran-owned small businesses. However, it can be challenging to find the right balance between hiring transitioning service members and veterans—something that many veteran-owned small businesses emphasize—and hiring those who have the right skill sets.
Unique challenges such as this make it difficult for veteran business owners to reach their goals without support. Fortunately, there are resources to help veterans manage every aspect of their business.
[Read more: Looking to Hire a Veteran? Here’s How to Get Started]
Top 9 resources for veteran entrepreneurs
There are several resources available to veterans looking to start their own businesses, offering courses on entrepreneurial skills, business plan creation, and other information.
Boots to Business
Boots to Business (B2B) offers an introductory overview of business ownership and baseline entrepreneurial skills for veterans and their family members. At this in-person, two-day seminar, veteran business owners are taught how to create a business plan and basic business concepts by subject matter experts from the Small Business Administration (SBA). After the “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” course, additional support is offered through Mississippi State University at no cost to veterans and their families.
With a mission to assist veterans in their small businesses, Bunker Labs is an incredible resource for veterans looking to begin their entrepreneurial journey. Veteran-owned and operated, Bunker Labs assists new veteran entrepreneurs with resources such as a newly available online course and local meetups with like-minded new business owners. They also have resources for established veteran-owned companies looking to take their business to the next level in their CEO Circle program.
[Read more: 5 Tips for Hiring the Right Employee]
The Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur-Lab (MVE-Lab) is a three-month accelerator for veterans with a business idea.
DAV Patriot Boot Camp
Operating out of Boulder, Colorado, the DAV Patriot Boot Camp has a mission to provide current military service members, veterans, and their families with mentors, educational programs, and a community filled with top experts to assist them in creating successful businesses. The organization’s current three-day Boot Camp is its core program modeled after the Techstars’ accelerator. The program runs twice a year and provides mentoring and one-to-one support for new business owners, with locations varying each year.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
The SBA houses a wealth of resources to assist Americans in creating and growing their small businesses. The SBA’s Office of Veteran Business Development (OVBD) is dedicated solely to veteran entrepreneurs. With centers across the country, online and in-person courses, and resources for funding, the OVBD is a must-have bookmark for all veteran small business owners.
Hiring Our Heroes
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program is also a helpful tool to consider when hiring and recruiting for your business. Hiring Our Heroes is dedicated to assisting transitioning service members, veterans, and their families find meaningful employment opportunities.
Created especially for active duty and female veterans, Veteran Women Inspiring the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) holds a three-phase program in entrepreneurship and business management. The three phases include a 15-day online course followed by mandatory in-person entrepreneurship training and continued support, mentorship, and training for alumni launching or growing their businesses.
Warrior Rising is a nonprofit organization that offers education, business coaching, and professional development to veterans. Warrior Rising focuses on helping service members transition back into becoming private citizens, with all their services provided at no cost to the participant. Warrior Rising’s job training starts with “Warrior Academy,” which translates the military decision-making process into a business model. Every piece of the Warrior Rising curriculum is aimed to help veterans become business owners and leaders.
Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur-Lab
The Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur-Lab (MVE-Lab) is a three-month accelerator for veterans with a business idea. Participants work on launching their business ideas with guidance from other veteran entrepreneurs, mentors, and experts like attorneys and marketing specialists. MVE-Lab concludes with a business pitch competition to win at least $20,000 in prize money.
The Rosie Network
The Rosie Network offers a range of programs for military members and their families. One of the organization’s core resources is Rosie’s List, a searchable database of verified veteran- and military spouse–owned businesses. The Rosie Network also runs the Service2CEO program, which was developed to educate and empower military entrepreneurs. The free program is designed with coursework, one-on-one mentorship, access to subject matter experts, and opportunities to pitch your business idea.
This story was originally written by Sean Peek.
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