Whether you’ve been in business for years or you’re a veteran who is just starting to consider going down the path of business ownership, you don’t have to go it alone! There are several public and private resources that were created to help Veterans start, operate and fund their businesses. Here are just a few:
Training and Advisement Resources
Boots to Business & Boots to Business Reboot
The Boots to Business (B2B) initiative is a training program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration exclusively for veterans of the armed services (and their spouses) who are transitioning back to civilian life. B2B Reboot, also an SBA program, offers similar business education courses but extends invitations to all veterans, not just those who are currently transitioning.
Boots to Business courses are a great “step one” for aspiring small business owners, as classes typically focus on key business tactics like creating a compelling business plan and networking. B2B courses are offered in-person across the country and registration is free. Check with the B2B or B2B Reboot websites to see upcoming courses.
Veteran Readiness and Employment Program
Formerly known as the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program, the Veteran Readiness and Employment program is a series of seminars offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs focused on preparing veterans for a return to civilian life as well as the beginning to a small business life. The VR&E program also gives advice and support to veterans who may have been injured during their service and could have difficulty starting their own business alone.
Veterans can apply for the VR&E program online or at their local Veterans Affairs office.
SBA Veterans Business Outreach Center Program
If you are interested in starting your own small business or have an existing business and are looking for professional advise, consider making contact with your local Veterans Business Outreach Center. The VBOC is run and operated by the Small Business Administration and functions in every state as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa. These centers are uniquely diverse and offer services from seminars all the way to direct mentoring.
If you are a veteran in any capacity, it would likely be supremely beneficial to reach out to your local VBOC, as they pride themselves on helping veteran small business owners at any step in their business journey.
The Dog Tag Fellowship Program
The Dog Tag Fellowship Program is owned and operated by Dog Tag Inc, a bakery with a mission of educating transitioning veterans of the United States Armed Forces through real-world business experience. The Fellowship is a five-month program that awards completing fellows with a certificate of business administration from Georgetown University or Loyola University in Chicago depending on which program (East or Central) fellows participate in.
All fellows receive a monthly stipend and a full register of courses meant to build veterans’ business sense and confidence. Fellows also participate in hands-on learning at Dog Tag Bakery in Washington D.C. where they can practice real business tactics.
The Dog Tag Fellowship Program accepts applications for the Chicago and D.C. programs in November and January respectively.
Grants and Funding Resources
The StreetShares Foundation offers small business grants exclusively to veterans of the United States Armed Forces. StreetShares grants reward strong business plans as well as creativity, as each applicant must submit a video explaining how they would use the grant money if they were to win.
StreetShares grants are often awarded in Q4 of each year and the application window usually opens in Q1 of that same year. In the meantime, there are several other grants veteran small business owners may be eligible for.
Hivers and Strivers
Hivers and Strivers is an investment group that solely backs companies operated by U.S. armed service veterans. Hivers and Strivers prides themselves on offering active mentoring as well as direct funding for the veteran projects they believe in. This investment group aims high, traditionally funding projects to the tune of $250,000 to $1,000,000 but all veterans from any branch are welcomed to apply. Veteran small business owners seeking venture capital funding can apply here
Warrior Rising Business Grants
Warrior Rising is a non-profit organization with the mission of empowering veteran business owners. Warrior Rising’s mission statement is to turn any veteran into a “vetrepreneur,” explaining that veteran small business owners can use their military training to make their businesses stronger.
Warrior Rising is owned and operated by veteran small business owners themselves. Through their mentoring and support networks, Warrior Rising aims to harness the “indomitable spirit” of the U.S. armed service member to create a uniquely strong class of business owner, the “ventrepreneur.”
If you would like to join the Warrior Rising support network as a donor, mentor, or member, learn more on the company website. Warrior Rising offers seminars and mentoring services for veterans year-round both virtually and in-person.
Veterans Never Fight Alone
No matter if you are a transitioning veteran or have been back in civilian life for decades, you have a wealth of resources at your disposal to start and operate a successful business. While we’ve run through a few examples, there is one resource that will be your biggest advocate while providing you with invaluable support: your community of fellow veteran business owners; it’s over 2 million strong and always accepting new members. If you know any other resources for veteran owned small businesses that should be included in this list, please contact us at Kapitus.