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Easing the Transition: 6 Resources For Veteran Entrepreneurs

With their unique skill sets and backgrounds, veterans play a vital role in diversifying innovation ecosystems and contributing to the operation of small businesses.

· Veterans,Entrepreneur

With profits over $1.4 trillion in revenue, around 2.5 million veterans are proud business owners. U.S. Veteran-run businesses operate across all industries, with most in professional, scientific, and technical services. With their unique skill sets and backgrounds, veterans play a vital role in diversifying innovation ecosystems and contributing to the operation of small businesses. Transferable skills like problem-solving or adaptability are useful attributes in this field.

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Despite this contribution, veteran owners and employees face a number of challenges. A Syracuse University study reported that over 75% have difficulties during their entrepreneurial journey, with the top three challenges ranked as access to capital, lack of networks, and difficulty developing mentorships. Even when seeking capital, veteran-owned businesses receive less financing and lower approval ratings compared to non-veteran owned businesses.

Overall, veteran entrepreneurial spirit runs strong⁠— a 2021 SBA study found that veterans are historically more entrepreneurial than non-veterans. Indeed, veterans credit skills developed during military experience as useful to owning a business. Skills like self-discipline, teamwork, and leadership gained during service were overwhelmingly reported as helpful.

To overcome these hurdles, veterans report the following resources as the most helpful to get them started: education, mentorship, business planning, and networking. In light of this, here are some resources that can help veteran entrepreneurs at any stage of their startup journey.

1. Engage With Your Local SBA Office of Veterans Business Development

The SBA Office supports a number of programs solely for veterans on the funding and training level. The Boots to Business program offers training around the world at military bases, while the Women Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program seeks to support women veterans. A similar opportunity exists for service-disabled veterans. Beyond training, the SBA Office offers free small business counseling at local offices with experts and several veteran-specific funding opportunities.

2. Find Business Accelerators Supporting Veterans

A number of accelerators and networks exist specifically to encourage the growth of veteran-owned startups. For example, VetsinTech equips veterans with financial and professional resources, from mentorship to capital, in the technology industry. Similarly, Bunker Labs and Vet-tech encourage veterans and military spouses in their efforts to launch and scale their businesses.

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3. Take Advantage of Networking Services

Networking tools are essential to help veterans transition from military life to civilian careers. Hire Purpose is a service built by veterans for veterans to facilitate introduction into the workforce. Similarly American Corporate Partners offers robust mentorship opportunities to help veterans integrate into the civilian workforce. By addressing networking issues, tools like this help even the gap for those out of the civilian workforce for extended periods of time. Outside of formal services, veteran entrepreneur support groups thrive on LinkedIn. Try searching for groups in your local area to learn from other members!

4. Sign up for Training Programs

Beyond SBA, training programs across the country provide access to online and offline education, mentors, as well as a community of peers and experts. Check out Patriot Boot Camp, Vet to CEO, or VetNet for educational programming covering personal branding, entrepreneurship courses, project management, and more.

5. Visit the Insitute for Veterans & Military Families

Founded in 2011, the IVMF is a research institution helping veterans and their families navigate life post-military service. Their extensive entrepreneurship program has served over 120,000 veterans across different stages of growth. Click here to access their list of comprehensive, helpful resources.

6. Leverage Funding Opportunities Aimed at Veterans

Lastly, seek out venture capital firms that invest in early stage startups run by veterans. The Veteran Fund believes in supporting tech startups, but the PenFed Veteran Foundation invests in veteran led startups in any industry. Options are plentiful: you can also check out TFX Capital or Veteran Ventures Capital.

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At the end of the day, connecting veterans to resources is key to overcoming barriers they uniquely face. While more robust and transformative efforts are needed to ensure veterans hold an equal space at the starting line, these resources can help mitigate inequalities.



Author: Miriam Attal | Miriam is receiving her M.S in Communication with an eye on social media for social good. She is inspired to build connections and promote justice online through creative strategies.