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

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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


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Thanks for listing many of the great resources available for Veterans and VBS supports Boots to Business, is a graduate of EVB and were promote the TAP programs to many Veterans who we work with. In addition, the VA Self-Employment Track provides guidance through the VRE program and many Veterans may be eligible for assistance if they have a disability rating. Visit to learn more information about additional support with transitioning.
In today's military, veterans getting ready to separate or retire from active duty go through transition assistance classes several months in advance of their discharge dates. This would some great information to get out at those classes.
Great article! I can relate to how tough separating can be and venturing into the unknown of being a business owner. Thankfully I used my military training to get a great career outside of the military while I am building my business part time. Great resources and ideas!   This post was edited to remove a link. Please review our Community Best Practices for more information about how best to participate in our online discussions. Thank you.
Thank you for listing resources for Veterans. There are also a range of private sector business support organizations developed by veterans for veterans. VET-Force is an association of over 200 nonprofit veteran support organizations. VetBizGO is a nonprofit virtual incubator and resource network dedicated to supporting business development activities for veterans. VetBizGO provides a cross-indexed listing of over 30,000 free business development programs and resources across the country, a Free Tools section with forecasting, budgeting and strategic planning templates, and a free online interactive business development learning system, 5 Steps to Self-Employment Success, where veterans can learn online and work with an ementor from SCORE, an SBDC or other resource in developing a strategic plan for their own venture.
Leaving military life can be extremely scary, which is a reason why many people choose to do 20 years for "retirement." I am a 6 year veteran and can vouch for the fact that there are plenty of resources available to help with the transition. Visit the VA's official website for information on small business loans if you are heading that route. You may also qualify for grants and other benefits, but must pursue these yourself. Don't stop educating yourself, and attend events related to what your passion is upon transition to become an expert in your field. If a job is what you are seeking, most companies offer a Veteran's preference to applicants as well.
very useful and meaningful programs to help our veterans. They devoted their youth to protect the country in the past and now it's time for us to do everything deserve their contribution.
These are great resources to help our veterans. Perhaps the most important thing a veteran can do to make the transition to the private sector is find a mentor to offer guidance, insights and contacts. This is a way employers can help – assign a seasoned employee to take the newly-hired veteran under his or her tutelage. Serving in the military is a life-changing event. During service, veterans often obtain skills and training that make them valuable to employers. However, regardless of those skills, veterans deserve a place in American business. Hiring vets can be a win for everyone if both sides understand the fundamental differences between the military and private sector and determine ways to successfully integrate veterans into the workforce.
Very useful information since transition to civilian life can be a though decision for military personals without adequate information, that is why these kind of initiative will further guide them in every step they take & valuable programs for better growth in life.
This is very valuable information, I know many veterans and I am going to share this with them!! So many times after serving their country they don't know what step in life they want to take next.....I think this information may guide them to be a successful civilian. Thanks again!!


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