Veterans own nearly 2.5 million businesses in the United States, employ more than 5 million people and generate over $1 trillion in sales and receipts annually. While these numbers are impressive on their own, they have an even greater impact when you consider the sacrifices these brave men and women made while in service before returning to civilian life to realize their entrepreneurial dreams.
In recognition of Veterans Small Business Week, we compiled a list of organizations that work to foster the growth and success of veteran business owners. The list ranges from several large institutions such as Google and AT&T, to non-profit initiatives that support service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.
Whether you’re looking for a mentorship, boot camp, or grant, there are plenty of initiatives from which to choose. Here are 10 resources dedicated to helping veterans and their business ventures.
Grow with Google for Veterans and Military Families
Grow with Google offers trainings and workshops for small business owners, and contains tools specifically designed for veterans, such as a Google Maps attribute that alerts users of businesses that are owned, led, or founded by veterans.
Google has also partnered with Veteran Capital, Patriot Boot Camp, and Bunker Labs to “empower transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses to get startup jobs and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams,” according to the website.
SCORE Veteran Fast Launch Initiative
Business mentoring and education organization SCORE has a program that provides free training, as well as free software and services, to veteran entrepreneurs who want to either start or grow their small business.
The organization utilizes business-savvy participants such as CPAs who offer free hours of consulting to help with business plans, tax advice, and more.
Boots to Business
Boots to Business is a U.S. Small Business Administration training program that consists of a two-day classroom session and an eight-week online course. The goal of the program is to help veterans who wish to start a business learn more about forming a business plan and other necessities needed in the early days of entrepreneurship.
National Veteran Small Business Coalition
The NVSBC encourages veteran-owned businesses to participate in federal contract opportunities by promoting related policies. According to their website, the organization “works to ensure that veteran small businesses are given first consideration for federal prime and subcontract procurement opportunities.”
American Corporate Partners
Large institutions such as AT&T, HP, and Allstate team up with American Corporate Partners to connect veterans and business leaders for mentorship and assistance in growing a business. The mentorships last a year and the organization encourages mentors and mentees to connect at least once a month to advance the veteran’s goals.
V-WISE (which stands for “Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship) focuses on providing training and resources for female veterans who have either started a business or are considering doing so.
“The three-phases of the program include a 15-day online course (Phase I), 3-day entrepreneurship training event (Phase II), and ongoing mentorship, training and support opportunities for graduates launching or growing their business (Phase III),” according to the website.
Patriot Boot Camp
Mentioned previously due to their partnership with Google, Patriot Boot Camp is an accelerator program that is designed to help both veterans and their spouses launch technology companies. Their main initiative is a three-day program that provides free training and mentorship for all participants.
The EBV Foundation hosts the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, which provides experimental business management and entrepreneurial training to post-9/11 veterans with service-related disabilities. Graduates of the program receive grants, and the organization raises donations for participating schools.
Warrior Rising, which was founded by veterans, helps other veterans launch their businesses by providing start-up grants, education, one-on-one mentorship, and a connection with other veteran entrepreneurs and potential funding sources.
“Whether it is instruction, mentoring, access to funding opportunities, or reconnecting to the sense of community that existed in the military, we ensure that our veterans are not walking the path to success alone or in the dark,” their website reads.
Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program
Qualifying veteran business owners can benefit from the SBA program by receiving help in obtaining sole-source government contracts of up to $5 million. Candidates must own 51 percent of their businesses and have a service-related disability.
The program makes veteran businesses eligible to compete for the program’s set-aside contracts, which are contracts for which the government limits competition to small businesses.