Taxpayers fund between $600 billion and $800 billion to recruit, train, equip, and deploy the U.S. military, according to Sean McIntosh, executive director of The Bunker Kansas City, part of a national program that offers education, mentorship, and access to funding for veteran entrepreneurs. “Our highly-trained, stress-tested, and experienced military veterans are a by-product of that investment,” he says. “They should be re-purposed as job creators.”
If you’re one of the nearly 250,000 service members transitioning to civilian life this year and are considering working for yourself, there are many resources available locally, regionally, and nationally. The U.S. Small Business Administration website is an excellent resource for all entrepreneurs, but here are seven programs specifically aimed at veterans:
The SBA’s Veterans Business Outreach Program has 16 organizations participating in this cooperative agreement to provide development services such as business training; counseling and mentoring; and referrals for eligible veterans owning or considering starting a small business. Check the website for VBOC locations and areas of coverage.
In its 35th year, the Small Business Development Center program includes 63 state and regional SBDC networks at nearly 1,000 locations. The centers provide free one-on-one consulting to small businesses, from business plan development to manufacturing assistance to financial packaging and lending assistance. The program is a public-private partnership in cooperation with the SBA.
For more than 45 years, SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) has offered mentoring and training to entrepreneurs through its network of 13,000 volunteers. The SCORE Foundation partnered with major corporations to create Veteran Fast Launch Initiative, combining the counseling and education with free software and services to help accelerate the start-up process for veterans and their families.
4. The Bunker
The Bunker targets existing veteran-owned tech startups and aspiring entrepreneurs, helping to launch and accelerate their businesses. There are seven chapters nationwide—all run by veterans—that accept applicants for a six-month training pipeline, bringing together companies, mentors, and aspiring entrepreneurs. Find affiliate locations on the website.
This non-profit offers a free online course to help veterans decide if starting a business is for them. Advanced programming includes free events on bases across the world featuring tools and speakers who are entrepreneurs, leaders, and trailblazers and have volunteered their time to help veterans transition.
Patriot Boot Camp’s intensive three-day events offer training in entrepreneurial and business skills, as well as mentoring from successful entrepreneurs and military and business leaders. Vets and their spouses can attend at no cost in locations across the country.
Boots to Business is an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by the SBA as part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program. The curriculum includes steps for evaluating business concepts, the foundational knowledge required to develop a business plan, and information on SBA resources available to help access start-up capital and additional technical assistance.
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