If you’re a veteran or about to leave the military, you’ve already served your country proudly. Now, it’s time to create a sound future for yourself and your family. And a great way to do that is by starting a small business.
Entrepreneurship is a challenging and rewarding career path that has attracted thousands of veterans over the years, especially in the past decade. While veterans have an inherent advantage with their discipline and commitment to doing a good job, many have been able to directly apply skills gained during their active duty service toward achieving their small business dreams. Others take advantage of various government-funded education and training programs to augment their knowledge base.
Best of all, there’s a wealth of small business resources and expert assistance available designed specifically for veterans. At the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website (www.sba.gov), for example, the Office of Veteran’s Business Development serves as a central access point for a wide range of training, counseling, and other assistance. Service-disabled veterans can also consult sba.gov’s special section on Business Resources for People with Disabilities, including start-up, financing, and operating information.
Then there’s http://www.vetbiz.gov, established by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to assist veteran entrepreneurs with starting and expanding their businesses in the federal and private marketplace. The site also includes a database listing businesses that are majority-owned by veterans or service-connected disabled veterans—a valuable tool for promoting a new business to potential federal and private-sector customers
In addition to these online resources, veterans can get in-person help at any of the 15 SBA Veterans Business Outreach Centers located around the country. These centers provide outreach, assessment, long and short-term business training, counseling, directed referring, electronic or on-line assistance and other technical assistance services.
Then there’s SCORE, a non-profit association made up of more than 13,000 business experts who offer free mentoring and other resources. Many SCORE volunteers are themselves veterans with first-hand experience in transitioning to civilian life and starting successful small businesses.
SCORE’s vast range of small business information insights and information can be accessed online (www.score.org) or at hundreds of local SCORE chapters, many of which have special programs tailored specifically to veterans, National Guard members, and military reservists start a new business, or restart one that was shelved when they entered the service.
And to give veterans a head-start on getting their small businesses up and running, SCORE has teamed with the Wal-Mart Foundation to create the Veteran Fast Launch Initiative. This innovative partnership provides veterans, spouses, and immediate family members with free or discounted resources such as name-brand computer software and online resources. Scholarships are also available for veterans to attend SCORES’s Simple Steps for Starting Your Business workshops.
You don’t have to be a veteran to benefit from the information, training, and expert mentoring services offered by SCORE. For more information, visit http://www.score.org.