As you prepare to transition from the US Armed Forces to civilian life, you may have considered starting your own business. According to statistics of veteran entrepreneurship vs. civilian entrepreneurship, the rate of self-employed individuals is nearly twice higher among veterans. That’s hardly surprising when you consider that discipline, focus, work ethic, and strong leadership are some of the most valued qualities among military personnel.
Veteran entrepreneurship programs can help you develop a business plan, apply for veteran business grants, and turn your entrepreneurial vision into reality. Let’s look into a few military veteran startup resources and draw inspiration from some of the best veteran-owned businesses in the US.
Compare Veteran Entrepreneurship Programs
When you enroll in veteran entrepreneurship programs, you get valuable education and support that can help you lift your business off the ground. Here are a few no-cost resources you may consider as a veteran and prospective business owner.
1. USDA Programs for Veterans
Agribusiness offers a wealth of opportunities for veterans, who often have the perfect skill set to become excellent farmers. If the idea of running an agricultural venture appeals to you, check out USDA’s programs for veterans seeking a career in agriculture.
These programs can help you kick-start your agribusiness, manage risks, and promote growth. USDA’s Farm Service Agency provides competitive-interest farm loans to veterans. USDA works together with SCORE, a nonprofit partner of the SBA (Small Business Administration) to provide no-cost mentorship for aspiring farmers and ranchers.
2. Boots to Business
The Boots to Business (B2B) program by the SBA provides entrepreneurial training and education for service members preparing to transition into civil life, as well as their spouses.
Boots to Business is a personal two-day workshop that will give you a toolbox of valuable skills you can use to create and manage your small business, plus options for various follow-up courses. The program is free for service members stationed across the globe, and you can attend it any time before your transition to civilian life. Contact your transition office to learn more about Boots to Business.
Like Boots to Business, Reboot provides aspiring entrepreneurs with fundamental principles for starting, managing, and growing a business. While B2B targets active service members prior to transition, Reboot runs off-installation and is open to veterans and their spouses.
The one- or two-day Reboot course will teach you how to come up with a workable business concept, access startup funding, and tap into business opportunities.
If you’re already a business owner, you may qualify for VETRN, a free program that provides advanced business growth coaching and training for veterans and their family members. This in-depth executive MBA course operates in more than 70 locations across the US. The program is open to veterans who have owned a small business for at least a year, employ at least one worker, and make at least $75,000 in annual revenues.
As a VETRN member, you’ll be assigned a mentor that will guide you through the program. The course features topics like setting business goals and strategies, team building, financial planning, customer profiling, crisis management, and more. The program runs for 28 weeks and includes 14 sessions.
5. Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV)
The EBV program by Syracuse University targets honorably discharged 9/11 veterans with service-related disabilities. The program offers entrepreneurship and business training courses for veterans and their families in three phases:
- Phase I: An online instructor-led 30-day program focusing on business fundamentals
- Phase II: A 9-day condensed residential course at one of the consortium schools participating in EBV
- Phase III: 12 months of personal support that will help you create and grow your small business
Qualifying veterans may participate in the EBV program at no cost, including lodging and travel. EBV alumni will walk out of the program with a cutting-edge business skillset, a supportive community of mentors and entrepreneurs, and lifelong access to valuable post-program resources.
Funding Options for Your Business
Whatever type of business you’re planning to start, you’ll likely need some type of funding. You may consider business grant for veterans, a startup loan with a veteran-friendly repayment plan, or a combination of the two.
Military Veteran Business Grants
The most effective way to apply for a veteran business grant is usually through a targeted platform, program, or agency like:
- SBA programs for service-disabled veterans
- Hivers & Strivers, a platform that helps veterans source financing for businesses in the founding stage
- Warrior Rising, a nonprofit that provides workshops and grants for veterans
Veteran Small Business Loans
As a veteran, you may qualify for a small business loan with easy repayment terms. Check out SBA programs, some of which waive upfront fees. Veteran entrepreneurship programs may provide help with submitting veteran small business loan applications.
Veteran Entrepreneur Success Stories
The world of veteran-owned businesses is full of impressive success stories. Here are a few examples of thriving veteran-founded startups and businesses.
- Unite US: Advanced software solutions for healthcare organizations. Founded in 2013, Unite US has a revenue of over $63M and is worth over $1.6B.
- RallyPoint: A social network for the service member and veteran community. RallyPoint promotes networking, mentorship, social connections, and employment searches for veterans.
- BlackRifleCoffee: Since 2014, BlackRifleCoffee has provided premium, boutique batches of roast-to-order coffee. Today, the Salt Lake City-based business is a company worth $1.7B with about 550 employees.
- Rhumbix: Cutting-edge software and analytics for construction companies. Founded by two former US Navy members, today Rhumbix employs over 50 workers and runs multimillion deals.
- JDog: A veteran-exclusive franchise network that specializes in services like junk removal, carpet cleaning, and floor care. Started as a one-man operation in 2011, JDog went on to expand across 27 states and over 90 active franchises.
Enroll in an Entrepreneurship Program for Veterans and Start Building Your Business Today
At MilitarySupportiveColleges.com, we provide useful, timely information about educational and business options for American veterans. Follow us to learn about top veteran entrepreneur resources, military veteran entrepreneurship programs, college and university programs for veterans, and much more. The next successful veteran-owned business on our list could be yours!