- As of January 2020 -
Today, about 10% of all small businesses are veteran owned. Veteran owned businesses tend to be more sustainable and have more longevity than non-veteran businesses. While the desire to operate a business is there, many veterans and family members don’t know where or how to begin. Thankfully, there are numerous free and low cost resources designed to help active duty military, veterans, and their spouses create and operate a successful business.
Our Top Five
Active Duty, National Guard, Reserves, Veterans, and Spouses
Boots to Business (On Installation) & Boots to Business Reboot (Off Installation) are education training programs run through the Small Business Administration (SBA). The 2-day in-person programs look to educate military and spouses on how to be successful entrepreneurs. The programs begin with a course entitled, “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” which gives the participants all the “skills, knowledge, and resources they need to launch a business”. Participants learn how to develop a business plan, find applicable resources through the SBA, and gives them steps on how to best develop their own business principles.
Once the Intro to Business program is completed, participants are given the opportunity to further their own business education with the “Revenue Readiness” online course as well as a variety of services through the Boots to Business partner network, such as the Veteran Business Outreach Centers described below.
Transitioning Military, Veterans, National Guard, Reserve, and Military Spouses.
Veteran Business Outreach Centers (VBOC) operate in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and their main goal is to help provide service members, veterans, and spouses the resources necessary to open their own small business. The program offers access to over 22 organizations that have agreed to partner with the outreach centers. There are 10 different regions that cover the majority of the U.S. including Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa.
VBOCs offer assistance in creating a sustainable business plan, entrepreneurial training and counseling, feasibility analysis, and mentorship. VBOCs help veterans to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their business plan and use that analysis to help them create a strategy for success. They also help to review monthly financial statements with on-site visits.
Active Duty, Veterans, & Spouses
SCORE is the largest network of small business mentors in the nation. It is their mission to “foster vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education.” SCORE offers a webinar presented by Vietnam Veteran Walter Abbott who is an expert in the field of Business Education and mentoring small business owners. The webinar addresses the challenges of getting capital to start a business, how to navigate these challenges, and where / how to find the necessary resources to get funding.
SCORE also has an extensive list of resources that are specifically designed to help veterans, active duty military, and spouses find the necessary resources to start their small business ventures. They have local chapters in all 50 states that will connect veterans with a local mentor who will give them one-on-one coaching on how to best get the resources needed to take their business from an idea to reality.
3. Bunker Labs
Active Duty, Veterans, and Spouses.
Bunker Labs is a non-profit network of veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs created to help veteran families launch and grow a small business. They offer a variety of online courses, mentorships, and local chapter events.
The program begins with what they call, “Launch Lab Online” which is an interactive entrepreneurship education program. From there, veterans can participate in the “Veterans in Residence” program which is a 6 month program partnered with WeWork to help to provide space, services, and mentorship for new veteran owned businesses. As of right now, the residence program is available in 17 cities nationwide. The “Bunker Connect” program is currently available in 12 cities and is designed to be a networking and mentorship program for veterans and spouses to connect them with the more than 65 resource partners.
VetFran is an initiative provided by the International Franchise Association (IFA). The initiative includes over 600 IFA companies that offer support, education, and financial incentives to veterans interested in owning and operating a franchise. It is the goal of VetFran to match the leadership skills found in military members with franchise ownership opportunities.
The VetFran partnership works with companies to offer incentives and discounts to veterans looking to operate a franchise. They also have a large database of opportunities that veterans are able to access. Along with the database, they also offer other resources and tools (such as this Intro to Franchising Guide) to assist veterans establish themselves in one of the fastest growing sectors of the U.S. economy.
Post-9/11 National Guard, Reserves, Veterans, and their family members
From their website: This (free) program offers cutting edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans and their family members who are in early growth mode for their new business. Travel expenses, lodging, meals, program materials, textbooks, and the cost of the program itself will be fully funded entirely by the EBV program.
PHASE 1—is a 30-day instructor led, online course focused on basic skills of entrepreneurship and the language of business.
PHASE 2—is a nine-day residency at an EBV university (located throughout the country such as CA, NY, MO, TX, PA) where students are exposed to over 30 accomplished entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship educators from across the U.S. The residency includes more than 80 hours of instruction in the “nuts and bolts” of business ownership. The residency is intense, and designed to both educate and motivate. Cos
PHASE 3—involves 12 months of support and mentorship delivered through the EBV Post Program Support, a robust, comprehensive network of mentors, resources and national partnerships.
Above are just the top 5 programs we wanted to highlight. However, there are numerous other programs and aids to get your business going!
Here is the main SBA page for veteran resources:
Here is a great article that lists 20 resources for veteran business owners:
Also, a few podcasts that we enjoy are:
*Written in coordination with Michael, Marine Corps Veteran*
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