If you’re one of the 2.5 million veterans who own a business, or is a vet thinking about starting a business, you should know that there are resources that will help make your journey easier. There are programs specifically designed for veteran-owned businesses. Whether you need financing, a mentor, or just small business training, here are a list of resources that you can take advantage of to boost your business venture.
- Veteran Entrepreneur Portal
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website has a robust section dedicated to veteran entrepreneurs. There, you can find resources for starting and growing a business, as well as financing and pursuing federal contracting opportunities. You can also find franchising opportunities, training and employment programs.
What it’s best for: Sometimes getting started is the hardest thing to do, especially when it comes to applying for federal contracts. This site provides ample educational resources to walk you through becoming certified as a veteran-owned small business so that you can bid on federal contracts. If you’re a disabled vet, you will be given priority in the bidding process, so it’s worth becoming certified.
For female veterans, V-WISE (Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship) can get you started on your entrepreneurial adventure. This three-phase training program includes a 15-day online course, a 3-day entrepreneurship training conference, and ongoing mentorship and support as you launch or grow your business.
The great thing about this program is that it’s not only for honorably discharged women vets and active duty service members, but also female spouses or same-sex life partners of women veterans.
What it’s best for: If you thrive networking with other veteran business owners and learning in a formal education-style training program, you’ll get the most out of this resource.
- Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans
For the past 10 years, the Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans has been held on 10 college campuses, with the aim of providing access to higher education-level training for veterans interested in entrepreneurship.
The program, free for post-9/11 vets, includes three phases:
- 30-day instructor led, online course focused on business basics
- Nine-day residency at an EBV university, with access to over 30 accomplished entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship educators
- 12 months of support and mentorship
What it’s best for: If finances have kept you from seeking top-level training to boost your entrepreneurship skills, this program removes financial hardship from the equation.
- Bunker Labs
Bunker Labs, a national non-profit built by military veteran entrepreneurs, designed to empower other military veterans as leaders in innovation by providing educational programming and small business resources.
Through this organization, you can network with other veteran business owners through its Bunker Brews and CEOCircle events, or take one of several education courses online or in person.
What it’s best for: If getting to an in-person training course is difficult, check out Bunker in a Box, an online entrepreneur education platform.
- Hivers & Strivers
For startups, having funds to scale a big business idea is key. If you’re seeking funding for your veteran-owned startup, why not work with an angel investor that focuses on funding people who have served in the military? Hivers & Strivers provides early-stage investment for startups founded and run by graduates of the US Military Academies.
What it’s best for: If you’re looking for $250,000 to $1 million in investment, Hivers & Strivers is the resources to consider.
Franchising is an excellent option for entry into business ownership: with business branding and processes already established for you, it’s less work to get an establish business up and running than to build an independent business from scratch.
VetFran supports veterans who are interested in franchises, and connects them with franchising opportunities. Often, franchisors will offer a reduced franchising fee to veterans as a way to encourage them to buy a franchise, and VetFran can guide you to the best franchise for your needs. The website includes a veteran franchise directory, as well as educational resources.
What it’s best for: If you want guidance toward finding the best franchises for you as a veteran, this is a great resource.
- Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC)
Having a local resource to turn to with questions on small business ownership is invaluable. The VBOC has centers all over the US, where you can participate in transition assistance programs and receive counseling, training, and mentoring. It’s also a great place to meet other veterans in your area.
What it’s best for: If you feel in over your head in starting a business, a VBOC can help. They offer training and education on developing your business plan, conducting a comprehensive feasibility analysis, and much more.
As a veteran, you can access organizations like these dedicated to helping you succeed as your own boss. Take advantage of them so that you have an edge over the competition once you’re up and running in your new business.