6 Resources for Veterans Starting Small Businesses
Veteran entrepreneurs are considered to be one of three groups of “unsung entrepreneurs” that contribute more to the economy than the general population. Findings from SCORE’s 2021 “The Megaphone of Main Street: Unsung Entrepreneurs” report indicate that veteran entrepreneurs, over the past 25 years, have started businesses at higher rates and operate more small businesses than others.
One consistent challenge for veteran entrepreneurs is finding the proper resources for starting a small business. Here are some of the major resources and hubs designed to support veteran entrepreneurs and their businesses.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Many veterans visit VA.gov to access and manage their VA benefits and healthcare. Vets interested in exploring entrepreneurship may visit the site’s Veteran Entrepreneur Portal (VEP) at the Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization.
Use VEP to access federal services and quickly connect to relevant best practices and information for starting a small business. Some resources include interactive tools for starting a business, tips for identifying and accessing financing and advice for expanding your small business.
Learn more by visiting the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal – Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization.
SBA’s Office of Veteran Business Development (OVBD)
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is one of the key resources listed in the VA.gov Veteran Entrepreneur Portal. Visiting the SBA allows veteran entrepreneurs to access programs and resources for starting a business. Explore these key areas.
- The Veterans Business Outreach Center Program (VBOC). Find the center closest to you and learn more about its offerings including business plan workshops, concept assessments and mentorship opportunities.
- SBA tools that allow veteran entrepreneurs to find funding and access to capital.
- Training programs including Boots to Business, Women Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program (WVETP) and Service-Disabled Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program (SDVETP).
- Resources for military spouses to have the same counseling, training and access to entrepreneurship.
Learn more by visiting the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Bunker Labs is on a mission to help military veterans and their spouses start and grow successful businesses. Veteran entrepreneurs can use three programs through Bunker Labs designed for each stage of entrepreneurship.
- Veterans in Residence. This is a business incubator for early-stage startups.
- CEOcircle. This program is for veteran entrepreneurs running growth-stage companies and looking to scale.
- Ambassador Program. This is a volunteer servant-leader role that helps support and connect local veteran entrepreneurs.
In addition to these programs, veteran entrepreneurs can learn more about local Bunker Labs communities, attend workshops and courses on small business topics and find events in their area.
Learn more by visiting Bunker Labs.
Hivers and Strivers
Finding an investor is difficult for many startups, especially for businesses run by veterans. Hivers and Strivers is an angel investment group that invests exclusively in companies led by military veterans.
The thesis behind Hivers and Strivers is that entrepreneurial efforts launched by young military veterans require active and passionate support. Hivers and Strivers will invest anywhere between $250,000 to $1,000,000 in a single round. If the business needs a larger financing round, Hivers and Strivers will look to syndicate deals with other investment groups in their network. The group is also actively involved in supporting and counseling the business and invests their time and experience to ensure success.
Learn more by visiting Hivers and Strivers.
Veteran Institute For Procurement (VIP)
The Veteran Institute For Procurement (VIP) is a veteran entrepreneurship program that specifically addresses federal procurement. VIP offers a platform with five training programs available to assist veteran-owned businesses.
- VIP START. Companies owned by veterans interested in entering or scaling in the federal marketplace and becoming procurement ready.
- VIP GROW. Procurement ready veteran small businesses that are looking to expand and operate in the federal marketplace.
- VIP INTERNATIONAL. Companies that want to enter or expand and/or diversify their federal and commercial contracting opportunities overseas.
- VIP ADVANCE. Procurement ready veteran small businesses interested in taking their business to the next level of sustained growth in the federal marketplace.
- VIP AEROSPACE. Companies that want to accelerate their business specifically in the federal aerospace market.
Through the VIP experience veteran entrepreneurs receive 27 hours of comprehensive, no cost training on how to accelerate their federal government contracting business skills. Experts in the industry and government also provide information on best business practices.
Learn more by visiting the Veteran Institute For Procurement (VIP).
Don’t forget to visit the veteran entrepreneur resource hub provided by SCORE.
SCORE is the largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors across the United States. Many SCORE mentors have previously served in the military. They understand firsthand how to translate military skills into business success.
Find your mentor by searching through SCORE’s database. You can even type in your zip code and get paired with a mentor at your local SCORE chapter. Veteran entrepreneurs may also receive access to additional free resources including business workshops and educational content like articles and webinars with actionable step-by-step guidance for starting and growing your business.
Learn more by visiting SCORE.
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