The U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that 1 out of 10 small businesses are Veteran owned small businesses. According to a recent study, Veterans are 45% more likely to start their own business. That means approximately 2.4 million small businesses in America which are owned by Veterans.
The VA, in concert with the SBA, has a large selection of training and resources available to help Veterans begin their business. They also have resources to help Veterans grow their business. In addition, the VA has specific training on how Veterans with small businesses can learn to work as a contractor with the Federal Government.
Many large corporations in America also work with Veterans. They offer training, education, and jobs to Veterans. These companies are committed to helping Veterans transition from the military to the civilian workforce. In so doing, they can take advantage of the leadership and teamwork characteristics of former warriors.
One note. Unless otherwise noted, all of the resources listed here are free for Veterans and usually free for Military Service members and spouses also.
Veterans Readiness & Employment
The VR&E program use to be called Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, or VocRehab. The VA offers training in several areas. The program is known as Chapter 31 and helps Veterans explore options for employment. VR&E also offers opportunities for education and training.
Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization
The VA’s Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization operates to train and educate Veteran small business owners on a variety of topics which are geared toward doing business within the federal marketplace. Some of the training is very specific to working with the federal government, while other topics deal with business in general.
The OSDBU webpage contains training for Veterans wanting to do business with the VA or with other federal agencies.
SBA – Office of Veterans Business Development Resources
The SBA has a lot of resources available free to Veterans.
Boots to Business
Boots to Business and Boots to Business: Reboot consist of entrepreneurial education and training. The program is open to transitioning Service members and their spouses, while the Reboot version makes the training available to Veterans of all eras. The course introduces Veterans to the skills and resources needed to start a business.
The education and training is free for Service Members and Veterans as well as their spouses and includes follow-on support through a course at Mississippi State University, as well as multiple avenues of support through the SBA.
Veterans Business Outreach Center Program (VBOC)
The VBOC program assists transitioning Service members and Veterans with several services to assist them in launching a small business. Some of the services offered include concept assessments, business plan preparation, entrepreneurial training and counseling, and mentorship. The VBOC program has centers in locations around the country serving each region. Y ou can find more information on locations here.
Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP)
The VIP offers free training for Veterans. The national training center in Washington DC offers 3 day programs to educate Veteran small business owners in the federal procurement process. This training has enabled the federal government to meet its contracting goal of 3% for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses and increase it each year. As of 2020 the program has pivoted to a virtual platform, reaching even more service-disabled Veteran small business owners. Veterans can find more information at the VIP Website.
Institute for Veterans and Military Families – IVMF
The Institute for Veterans and Military Families is an academic institute at Syracuse University. The program provides training for Veterans and their families. The training centers on entrepreneurship to empower Service members, Veterans and their families in their post-service career. The IMVF accomplishes this task through several different programs addressing everyone from brand new entrepreneurs to established business owners.
IGNITE is a one day training seminar on Entrepreneurship. The seminar is geared toward Veterans and active duty along with family members who are just exploring small business ownership and need guidance. The training brings in instructors who are experts in their field along with successful Veterans and Military entrepreneurs. They will help the participants understand the lifestyle of an entrepreneur as well as show them the different pathways to small-business ownership. The course is open to honorably discharged male and female Veterans, Active duty service members, and military spouses.
This is a 100% virtual, free, 6-week training program. The program is for those Military spouses and honorably discharged Veterans who are ready with business ideas. The training will help them to evaluate those ideas as well as gain a foundation of skills in areas such as value creating, marketing, sales, and personal branding. The course include videos on different business fundamentals as well as activities and discussion posts. The participants will take part in weekly webinars with live question & answer sessions, as well as ask the expert sessions with specific subject matter experts.
Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV)
The Entrepreneurship bootcamp program is designed to turn Veterans into Entrepreneurs. Syracuse University founded the program in 2007. Since then, the program has expanded to Texas A&M, UCLA, the University of Connecticut, Saint Joseph’s University, the University of Maryland, Florida State University, and Louisiana Statue University.
The course is open to post-9/11 Veterans and takes place in three phases. The first phase consists of a 30-day online course led by an instructor. This course includes business fundamentals. After the 30 day course if finished comes a 9-day residency course at one of the eight schools hosting EBV. Following graduation from the 9-day course, Veterans receive 12 months of ongoing support. Syracuse offers the entire course, including travel and lodging, without any cost to the Veteran.
Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP)
Spears School of Business from Oklahoma State University hosts the VEP. It functions much like the EBV with a five week online self-study curriculum to aid in concept development. After that is an eight day residency program in Stillwater, OK with experiential workshops to expose participants to what it takes to own and run a business. Following the 8 day workshop, the participants receive five months of advising from other entrepreneurs and nation-wide subject matter experts.
Onward to Opportunity
This program was formerly known as the Veterans Career Transition Program. The program is a free program working with private companies to train and hire Veterans and military spouses. The training includes industry-recognized training with many information technologies certifications (including exam fee). Some of these courses include CompTIA Security+, Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP).
Veterans Program for Politics and Civic Engagement
Syracuse IVMF offers this program in partnership with the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The program is specifically intended to be a training and networking program for Veterans and military-connected people who are interested in careers in politics. According to the Syracuse website, the deliverable for this course is a refined campaign plan for each program participant.
Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE)*
V-WISE is a training program for women Veterans and female military spouses/partners. Through the program, the women will learn the skills necessary to turn a start-up into a growing business. The training includes CEOs and other entrepreneurs bringing their success stories. The program includes a 15 day online intensive self-study program followed by a 3 day residency experience. Note* – the 3 day residency requires a $75 registration fee which includes 2 nights lodging and MOST meals. Participants are responsible for travel to/from the conference. In addition, participants receive 12 months of ongoing support.
Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families (EBV-F)
The EBV-F program provides small business training for military spouses and family members (or a surviving spouse for military members who lost their life in service). The program tailors the training for families with caregiving responsibilities to help them launch and grow a home-based business. The program integrates training in entrepreneurship with caregiver and family issues. In this manner, the EBV-F prepares participants to launch a home-based business. The program includes a 30-day online period followed by a 9-day residential training at one of the EBV universities mentioned earlier.
Startup Training Resources to Inspire Veteran Entrepreneurship (STRIVE)
Currently Hillsborough Community College in Florida and East Tennessee State University offer this training. The program consists of an eight week entrepreneurship training program for Veterans, Reserve, and National Guard members. There is no charge for the course. This course teaches participants the skills needed to start and run a successful Veteran owned small-business.
Resilience. Innovate. Sustain. Evaluate. (RISE)
Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship of Florida State University’s College of Business hosts this program. The free, six-week virtual program is for Veteran owned or operated businesses with an identifiable and documented problem. FSU conceived the program in response to the current economic needs of Veteran and military spouse business owners. It is a bootcamp style program which focuses on sustainability and help owners tackle business problems.
Dog Tag Fellowship Program
The Dog Tag Fellowship Program is run from Georgetown University in DC or Loyola University in Chicago. The program works to equip Veterans, Military Spouses, and Caregivers with the information and skills necessary to succeed in their own business. The nonprofit runs a ‘living business school’ which offers a five-month fellowship programs. The program includes a certificate from either Georgetown or Loyola. Currently Dog Tag operates remotely due to COVID and the desire of the non-profit to protect everyone involved.
There are many other options for Veteran small business owners to get the education they may be looking for on how to run a small business and the skills they lack. Some of these include Coursera VTS Professional Development collection, Skillshop by Google, and Trailhead for Salesforce for Customer Service Management. In addition, Veterans should check with their local public library. Many libraries offer access to free online training through several different platforms.
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