Starting and managing a small business can seem to be a pretty big challenge, but many have taken that challenge and are glad that they did. Being your own boss can be a very satisfying experience, as is building a business. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone but it just might be right for you.
Did you know that there are approximately 3 million veteran business owners in the US, that veterans are more than twice as likely to start a business as non-veterans, and that they are significantly more successful after five years?
Want to start or restart your business? Want to grow your business? For those interested in starting or growing a business there is a great deal of help available.
One of the first stops in your research should be the Small Business Administration (SBA). It operates the new “Boots to Basics” entrepreneurial training program, a variety of loan guarantee programs, procurement assistance, plus a number of programs focusing on women veteran entrepreneurs. Just go to www.sba.gov/veterans for more information.
Under the umbrella of the SBA, there are also a number of great organizations: SCORE, the Small Business Development Centers, and the Veteran Business Outreach Centers. They also partner with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, which developed the Entrepreneurial Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities, V-Wise (Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship) and others. More can be found here.
The Small Business Development Centers are located in every state and provide workshops and guidance for start-ups and existing businesses, and have programs specially designed for veterans. To find out where your closest center is located, contact the Association of Small Business Development Centers here.
SCORE (America’s Counselors to Small Business) has been tapped by the White House Joining Forces program to assist veterans in starting businesses through their new Veterans Fast Launch program. You can check it out here. SCORE is a great organization with close to 400 offices and over 11,000 counselors who want to help you succeed in business, and the majority of their programs and services are free or inexpensive. To find the closest office and information about their online counseling programs, go to www.score.org and click on “veterans”.
There are currently 16 Veteran Business Outreach Centers around the country that specifically help veterans start and grow their businesses. To find out more about them and their locations, click here.
Be sure to check out franchising because it might just be right for you. VetFran is part of the International Franchise Association, with over 500 of their member companies offering special incentives to encourage veterans to own franchises. More information can be found here.
All of these organizations have excellent content on their sites to assist you in most aspects of entrepreneurship, from business planning to cash flow to how to sell your business. A veteran-owned membership organization worthy of note is the Veterans Business Network because its main goal is to grow veterans businesses.