Do you have a great idea for a business? Do you have the passion and perseverance it takes to build it? Are you resourceful, confident, and adaptable to change? Starting a business isn’t for everyone, but if you have what it takes, being an entrepreneur could be for you.
If you are transitioning from the military to civilian life and are interested in heading out into the startup world, you are not alone. In fact a 2011 Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy report cited in Entrepreneur magazine found that veterans are 45 percent more likely to become entrepreneurs than people with no active-duty military experience. But it takes more than certain personality traits and an amazing idea to get a new business off the ground. It takes a smart business plan and funding. Fortunately there are many resources available that are designed specifically to help veterans who want to start a small business.
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a wealth of resources for veterans and service-disabled veterans who are interested in starting their own businesses. Visit the SBA website for articles on laws and regulations, how to write a business plan, financing basics, and more.
The SBA website also includes links to local Veterans Business Outreach Centers and the Boots to Business initiative offered by the Department of Defense’s Transition Goals, Plans, and Success (Transition GPS) Training Assistance Program. This Boots to Business video provides an overview of this special business education initiative and showcases several veterans who have achieved entrepreneurial success. The video also explains why veterans are ideally suited for business ownership.
The Veteran Entrepreneur Portal is run by the Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization and is a partnership with BusinessUSA. This comprehensive portal connects aspiring business owners to interactive tools that can help you find the important information you need about starting a business, accessing financing, and available opportunities.
The International Franchise Association (IFA) VetFran initiative offers financial incentives, training, and mentoring to veterans who are transitioning to civilian life and who are interested in owning a franchise. Franchising allows you to own your own business while being supported by an established brand. Visit the VetFran website to access the VetFran toolkit which provides education and resources on the franchise industry. You can also search the 650+ VetFran member companies that offer savings such as discounted franchise fees and setup fees to qualified veterans.
Co-founded and staffed by a team of veterans, StreetShares is a social lending marketplace that connects small business owners with investors. There is no application fee or prepayment fee. The company specializes in providing veteran small business loans.
The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) initiative run by the EBV Foundation is focused on providing experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans and their families. The program encompasses an online course, 9-day residency at an EBV university, and 12 months of support and mentorship. Graduates of the program work with mentors to develop their business plans. Visit the EBV website for more information.
Your military experience provides an excellent foundation for entrepreneurship. Having drive, determination, a strong work ethic, leadership skills, and the willingness to work as a team and make sacrifices are powerful traits that will help you navigate the competitive business world. Give yourself the best opportunity for success by taking advantage of the valuable tools and resources available to you.