If you have served our great nation in the military and are thinking about starting a business, there are resources and programs earmarked for veteran entrepreneurs. Whether you need business skills, financing, or a mentor, here are a list of the top 7 veteran-owned business resources to launch or grow a business.
1. Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans
Since 2007, the Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans has been held on 10 college campuses, to provide access to higher education-level training for veterans interested in starting a business.
The program, free for vets, and includes three options for their training programs:
- 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.
2. Veteran Entrepreneur Portal
If you are interested in government contracting, 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 specific set-aside opportunities for certified vets and disabled veteran business owners. You can also find franchising opportunities, training and employment programs.
What it’s best for: Pursuing federal contracts is a business model, and it’s tough to get started. This site provides ample educational resources to walk you through how to become a successful government contractor. As a disabled vet, there are specific set-asides for your category in the bidding process, so it’s worth becoming certified, if you qualify.
3. Bunker Labs
Bunker Labs, a national non-profit organization built by military veteran entrepreneurs to empower other military veterans as leaders in innovation by providing educational programming and small business resources.
They offer networking with other veteran business owners through its Bunker Brews and CEOCircle events, and 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.
For women veterans, V-WISE (Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship) is a perfect way to get started in business. This three-phase training program includes a 15-day online course, a 3-day entrepreneurship training, and ongoing mentorship and support as you launch or grow your business.
The great thing about this program is that it serves women vets and active duty service members, but also female family members/spouses of veterans.
What it’s best for: This is an amazing training program for women veterans. If you thrive with academic education-style training program, and like to network with other female vets you’ll get a lot out of this resource.
Franchising is a terrific option for veterans looking to invest in a business with business branding and processes already established for you—there is a slight increase in success rates.
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 to leverage your status as veteran, this is a good resource.
6. Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC)
Small business ownership is a lonely road, and have face-to-face resources is invaluable. The VBOC has centers all over the US, where you can participate in transition assistance programs receive counseling, training, and mentoring to launch your business. It’s also a great place to network with other veterans in your area.
What it’s best for: If you’re feeling overwhelmed in starting a business, a VBOC can help. They offer training and education on developing your business plan, conducting a comprehensive feasibility study, and much more.
7. Hivers & Strivers
If you have a start-up idea that can scale into a significant business, there are investors that are just looking for veteran business owners to invest in. 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.
As a veteran, you can access to many resources like these dedicated to helping you succeed in business. The key is to take advantage of these organizations so that you can get your new business off to a great start.