Launching a small business as a veteran entrepreneur requires careful planning and execution, and it offers opportunities for growth and success. As veterans, your determination and discipline have already set you on a remarkable journey. This resource list will help you navigate the small business world, from startup to growth and expansion.
Government Resources for Veteran-Owned Businesses
- Small Business Administration (SBA)
The SBA offers a variety of programs and services to help veterans start and grow their businesses.
- The Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) is the liaison between the SBA and the military business community. It offers programs to help veterans, their spouses, and family members start and grow their companies.
- There are 28 organizations working with the SBA and serving as Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC). These centers provide a range of services, including business training, counseling, and mentorship to members of the military and their spouses who want to start or grow a small business.
- The SBA offers Boots to Business as part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP). Part one is an introduction to entrepreneurship, teaching vets and their spouses about small business fundamentals. It’s a two-day in-person program. Part two, an optional online program, is provided through a partnership with Mississippi State University (MSU).
- Boots to Business|Reboot classes are conducted “off installation” and offer a business basics overview and teach veterans how to evaluate the feasibility of their business ideas.
- The Veteran Small Business Certification program (VetCert) is for veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) that want to bid on federal sole-source and set-aside contracts.
- To bid for contracts offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), check out the Vets First Contracting Program.
- If you want to hire vets for your small business, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Services provides advice and resources for recruiting and training veterans to work for your company.
Nonprofits and Networking Organizations
- Bunker Labs
- Bunker Labs offers several programs for veterans and their spouses at various levels of business ownership. There are several startup programs, a Veterans in Residence incubator program for those who’ve already launched their businesses, and the CEO Circle that helps growing companies scale.
- Second Service Foundation
- The Second Service Foundation (formerly the StreetShares Foundation) provides coaching, resources, and mentorship to veterans, their spouses and Gold Star families.
- Franchisors who are members of VetFran, a program of the International Franchise Association, offer discounts to veterans interested in buying a franchise. Check out the searchable Franchise Directory and the numerous resources explaining franchising.
- VETRN provides college-level training to veteran business owners. Cohorts of 20 to 25 veteran business owners participate in a free 28-week program of 14 bi-weekly sessions covering the full range of small business fundamentals.
- Veterans in Business (VIB) Network
- The VIB Network helps veteran-owned businesses find business opportunities by connecting them with corporations, government agencies, and prime contractors. It offers a free veteran business directory, seminars and programs, scholarships, and a national conference.
- Warrior Rising
- Warrior Rising aims to “transform vets into Vetpreneurs” by offering veterans who want to start or have already launched a small business education, training, coaching, and mentorship.
Educational Institutions for Veteran Entrepreneurs
- D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF)
- V-WISE: Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) is a program provided by Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) that focuses on supporting women veterans, female service members, and female military spouses in entrepreneurship. It offers training, networking, and mentorship opportunities.
- EBV Spark: A virtual training program that helps veterans and military spouses test the feasibility of their business ideas and learn the business fundamentals to help them get started building a small business.
- EBV Accelerate: For veterans ready to take their businesses to the next level, EBV Accelerate is a boot camp program offered by Syracuse and a consortium of other colleges and universities nationwide.
- National Veteran Entrepreneurship Program (VEP) is an entrepreneurial learning and developmental program for “disabled veterans and those who have distinguished themselves in their military careers.” The two-phase program includes an online self-study curriculum and a five-day in-person boot camp. The program is offered by Oklahoma State University Spears School of Business, the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, and the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.
Veteran business owners don’t need to go on this journey alone. Connect with fellow veteran entrepreneurs through the organizations listed above. You can also get one-on-one business support and expertise from SCORE mentors, who can help guide you through starting and growing your business.
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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.