Memorial Day is with us and our collective attention turns to those who have served.
With that in mind, we thought we’d do a little research and pull together some resources for any veterans looking to pursue a post-service career in Small Business entrepreneurship – outside of our very own Small Business 101, of course.
The first and best place to start your small business education as a veteran. The Small Business Administration provides a wide range of educational materials, local resources, and specialized support for veterans and should provide a great jumping off point for any Small Business related research. Of particular interest are the Business Loan Opportunities for Military Veterans in 2014, wherein veterans can benefit from an expedited review of their loan guarantee application. In addition the upfront application fee will be waived for funding requests of less than $350,000 that are received before September of this year. You’re promised a response within 36hrs, so for those itching to get started in Small Business (and who wouldn’t be?), this could be a great option. The SBA also have also put together Operation Boots to Business, an SBA entrepreneurial training plan offered as an elective track within the Department of Defense’s Training Assistance Program called Transition Goals, Plans, Success. If you’re looking to explore the world of Small Business, this program will lead you through some of the key steps for evaluating business concepts and help you make a business plan.
A huge repository of information, advice, and resources for all military personnel, from those getting started to those looking to move on, Military.com has a whole section dedicated to ‘Veteran Jobs’. Happily they don’t just talk about getting you work, they also provide a lot of useful advice for those looking to pursue entrepreneurship – including profiles of veterans who have made the transition. If you’re contemplating small business and want to know how well your skills would set you up, these profiles can provide some great inspiration. BTW, in case you’re wondering if you’re right for Small Business, you are – it’s an incredibly diverse community. What’s more, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, one in 10 small businesses nationwide are veteran-owned and these 2.4 million small businesses employ almost 6 million Americans, generating more than $1 trillion in receipts for the economy. That sounds like a pretty great club to be a part of.
Veterans Business Outreach Centers
For those looking for some local insight and support, you can reach out to your nearest Veterans Business Outreach Center, where the SBA offer entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling, mentoring and referrals for eligible veterans who own or who are looking to start a small business. Find a center near you. Perhaps most powerful, the centers also offer a Mentorship service to help ensure you are sticking to your business plan!
SCORE Veterans Fast Launch Campaign
In 2011, SCORE announced the Veteran Fast Launch Initiative, an initiative aimed at providing veterans and active duty military members (and their spouses) with free or significantly discounted resources for starting businesses. These resources include computer software and business services provided by major corporate partners such as Microsoft, Cisco, Constant Contact, etc. SCORE also host regular local workshops across the country. These are not just for veterans but still worth checking out!
Hosted across their own website and Google+, VetNet offers business resources like some of the above tools but its unique selling point is most definitely the way it provides a place for entrepreurial veterans with a place to connect and share advice. You can check out all upcoming classes and events here (click on “Entrepreneur Track”). VetNet partners include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and Hire Heroes USA.
Franchising can provide an interesting route into the world of small business, (something we cover in a little more detail in our Small Business 101 guide). It’s also a popular route with veterans – the International Franchise Association (IFA) estimates that one out of every seven franchises in the U.S. – more than 66,000 businesses in total – is owned and operated by a veteran.
For veterans considering buying a franchise, there are added incentives. The VetFran program, started by the International Franchise Association, for example, provides financial incentives to veterans, such as franchise fee that are not available to civilian franchise investors. A current list of (the over 600) participating companies and the discounts they offer is available on the VetFran site.