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Leaving Military Life for Entrepreneurship – 5 Essential Resources That Can Help

Leaving Military Life for Entrepreneurship – 5 Essential Resources That Can Help

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: September 18, 2013 Updated: September 18, 2013

More than 250,000 service members transition each year from the military to civilian life. These men and women are proven leaders and they have the skills and experience needed to be outstanding business leaders. And the figures prove it – one in seven veterans are self-employed or small business owners, and about one quarter of veterans say they are interested in starting or buying their own business. 

If this sounds like you, there are a number of exciting resources and programs that can help you start and grow your business.

Here’s a round-up of five essential resources that can help you leverage the power of new social media programs to connect with and learn from experts; find a mentor; access discounted resources such as computer equipment and software; benefit from reduced franchise fees; and, of course, get vital training, counseling and help in your community.

  1. Veterans Business Outreach Centers

Funded primarily by the SBA as a public-private partnership between the SBA and the Veterans Resource Centers of America, Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs) provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling, mentoring and referrals for eligible veterans owning or considering starting a small business. Find a center near you.

  1. Veteran Fast Launch Initiative

For years, SCORE has provided free mentoring services to small business owners. But in 2011, it launched its Veteran Fast Launch Initiative in partnership with the Wal-Mart Foundation. The initiative provides veterans and active duty military members (and their spouses) with free or significantly discounted resources for starting businesses, such as computer software and business services (provided by major corporate partners such as Microsoft, Cisco, Constant Contact and others). Participants also get access to training in how to start and how to grow a successful/profitable business and are assigned a knowledgeable and highly experienced mentor to guide them every step of the way.

  1. VetNet by Google

Powered by Google+, VetNet is designed to provide a full spectrum of business resources and connect veterans who are re-entering the working life or looking to start a business. VetNet partners include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and Hire Heroes USA

The program is also targeted at veterans looking for employment opportunities; it also features numerous resources for veteran entrepreneurs including regular online training sessions held via interactive hangouts (Google+ speak for a live video web chat or event).

Topics vary – from how to conduct market research to building your business team and more. Class participants can also attend follow-up forums in Google+ where they can pose any questions they have about previous training sessions and connect with other veterans. Check out all upcoming classes and events here (click on “Entrepreneur Track”). You can also download workbooks and other resources to help you start and grow your business.

  1. SBA’s Veteran-Owned Business Guide

 SBA’s Veteran and Service-Disabled Veteran Small Business Guide is a one-stop portal with links to programs and resources, financing information, government contracting opportunities and other resources.

  1. VetFran Directory – Franchising Opportunities for Vets

If you want to be your own boss but are wary of the startup risks, buying a franchise can be an appealing alternative. The International Franchise Association (IFA) estimates that one out of every seven franchises in the U.S.--more than 66,000 businesses in total--is owned and operated by a veteran.

For veterans considering buying a franchise, there are added incentives. The VetFran program, started by the International Franchise Association, for example, provides financial incentives to veterans, such as franchise fee that are not available to civilian franchise investors. To date, more than 500 franchise companies participate in the program. A current list of participating companies and the discounts they offer is available on the VetFran site.

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About the Author:

Caron Beesley


Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley