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Each year, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) helps more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans, and National Guard and Reserve service members, and military spouses start and grow their small businesses.   The SBA will be adding six Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC) to the existing 13, bringing the nationwide total to19.

Each VBOC will provide entrepreneurial training, comprehensive business assessment, and mentoring to active duty service members, veterans and service-disabled veterans, National Guard and Reservists, and military spouses interested in starting a small business.

The new VBOCs will be located as follows:

  • Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE), Providence, RI
  • University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI
  • Georgia Southern University Research & Services Foundation, Statesboro, GA
  • Cochise County Community College District, Sierra Vista, AZ
  • University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX
  • MiraCosta College, Oceanside, CA

Existing VBOCs are located as follows:

  • Veterans Business Outreach Center at Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS
  • Big Sky Economic Development Authority, Billings, MT
  • WBDC Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • Community Business Partnership, Springfield, VA
  • Hampton Roads Veterans Business Outreach Center, Norfolk, VA
  • Veterans Business Outreach Center at Gulf Coast State College, Panama City, FL
  • Veterans Business Outreach Center at Fayetteville State Univ., Fayetteville, NC
  • VetBiz Central, Inc., Flint, MI
  • University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX
  • New Mexico Veterans Business Outreach Center, Albuquerque, NM
  • Veterans Business Resource Center, St. Louis, MO
  • Business Impact NW, Seattle, WA
  • Veterans Business Outreach Center – Region IX, Sacramento, CA

VBOC locations were selected based on “Boots to Business” program demand, military installation, and transitioning population data.

VBOCs support transitioning service members as they begin self-employment or entrepreneurship. Part of the VBOC funding is used to cover costs involved in doing outreach to increase participation in the Boots to Business entrepreneurship training program on military installations in the U.S. and its territories.

Veterans business development is available in each state at SBA District Offices and at VBOCs located throughout the U.S.  To learn more about additional opportunities for veterans available through the SBA, visit www.sba.gov/vets.

EBV10 part2

By Tina M Kapral | Senior Director of  Education and Training
Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University

In July of 2007, Dr. J. Michael Haynie held the first Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) class of seventeen students. These individuals were from across the U.S., from different service branches and ages, but all had the dream of owning their own businesses. The business ideas ranged from construction firms to non-profit organizations helping other veterans. The EBV residency phase was and still is intense — long days of classes, taught from a very practical standpoint, and late nights working on venture pitches to present at the end of the week. This was a purposeful approach.  Servicemembers know what to expect in “bootcamp” and that is exactly what they received, classes delivered on opportunity recognition, marketing, operations, supply chain, government contracts, legal and human resource management to name a few.  It was a great success; all seventeen students graduated at the end of week with pride and a new “mission” in life.

As it is often said, good news travels fast. As other schools heard of EBV and its success, many more schools wanted to have their own EBV programs.  This led Dr. Haynie to create the EBV consortium. First to join, Florida State University, then UCLA, Purdue, UCONN, Texas A&M, to today, where the EBV’s 10-university consortium also includes Cornell, LSU, Saint Joseph’s University, and University of Missouri, with the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University continuing to serve as the national hub. EBV has since helped Dr. Haynie launch other veteran and military family entrepreneurship training programs to include EBV-F, VWISE, Boots to Business, and Boots to Business Reboot

.

Dr. Haynie never envisioned EBV to grow to ten schools, nor did he anticipate the launch of the IVMF in 2011. Yet, through these programs and services dedicated to advancing the post-service lives of America’s servicemembers, veterans and their families, the Institute and current Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud are bringing Syracuse University’s commitment to veterans and their families full circle.

In 1940, “The University promised programs that would address individual needs of veterans, whether they wished to complete job training, their high school diploma, or an advanced degree.”  Post-World War II, Chancellor William Pearson Tolley recognized the role that higher education can play in advancing our nation’s returning veterans. He announced Syracuse University’s “uniform admissions program,” which ensured all military personnel admission to Syracuse upon return from war.” http://vets.syr.edu/about/role-impact.

History repeats itself, but this time in a positive, impactful way for our aspiring vetrepreneurs.

EVB-Dr. Mike Haynie

By Tina M Kapral | Senior Director of  Education and Training
Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), is a program executed by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University in cooperative agreement with the US Small Business Administration (SBA).  This year, EBV proudly celebrates its 10-Year Anniversary, and is delivered at ten universities nationwide.  It’s more than 1,300 graduates have revenues totaling over $196 million and hire on average four employees (many of whom are fellow veterans). Of these graduates, 68% of the businesses started are still in operation today.

Although EBV didn’t start that way, it began as a social venture of Dr. J. Michael Haynie, an Air Force veteran of 14 years (1992-2006), who in 2006 joined the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University as a professor of entrepreneurship.  Dr. Haynie knew through his research that veterans were starting businesses at a much higher rate than civilians.  For example, after WWII, over 48% started business, and individuals with a disability were twice as likely to start a businesses (http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/misc/entrepre.htm) .  He realized the faculty of Whitman were teaching, training and inspiring entrepreneurs every day, so why not bring this opportunity of business ownership to the community that most deserved to live the American dream — veterans and their families.

Dr. Haynie developed the curriculum to include an online portion, followed by a nine-day residency on campus, with follow up resources and support. He wanted the EBV program to be offered at no cost to post 9/11 service connected disabled veterans with a passion for entrepreneurship. He presented his proposal to the Dean of the Whitman School. Dean Melvin T. Stith, a Vietnam veteran himself, immediately gave Dr. Haynie the approval to launch this program at Syracuse University.  Now came the difficult part — raising the funds needed to support the effort, as well as recruiting veterans to participate. Dr. Haynie found supporters among Whitman alumni, who financially supported EBV; the Whitman faculty, who volunteered to teach; and business students, who helped to execute the program.

The recruitment was more difficult; Dr. Haynie found himself traveling to wounded warrior units to present the program and encountered many challenging naysayers who felt that veterans should not become business owners.  Dr. Haynie would later find research proving the opposite.  He noted this in The Business Case for Hiring a Veteran, Beyond the Clique’, March 2015, stating many veterans possess the same characteristics as those who are high performing entrepreneurs. “Individuals who are drawn to military service, who then have military training and socialization have a common strong self-efficacy, a high need for achievement, are comfortable with autonomy and uncertainty, and make effective decisions in the face of dynamic environments. These attributes, as they are linked to entrepreneurship and an entrepreneurial mindset among military veterans, have been consistently demonstrated in practice.” (http://vets.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/The-Business-Case-for-Hiring-a-Veteran-3-6-124.pdf)

boots_to_business

By Debbie Gregory.

I must sound like a broken record when I say that the traits and skills our nation’s service members possess make them great entrepreneurs, and that military service is one of the leading indicators of entrepreneurial success. Now the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) backs this up with statistics that reveal veterans are 45% more likely to be entrepreneurs than non-veterans, and over 13% of veterans have been self-employed in recent years.

Part of that success might be due to the many resources available to help budding entrepreneurs start and run their small businesses, once they leave the military. In fact, over the last three years, more than 35,000 transitioning service members and military spouses have participated in the SBA’s Boots to Business entrepreneurship training program, presented in collaboration with Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families.

Since not every veteran has access to the Boots to Business program, here are some important tips to stay the course:

  1. Lean on your military skills, traits and experience. While in the military, your ability to lead, bounce back, and push through served you well. Likewise, these abilities will serve you well as a great entrepreneur or small business owner.
  1. Know the difference between an opportunity and an idea. While an opportunity could parlay into a business, an idea is more of a feeling or notion that could be fleeting and lead to a failed venture. Try to brainstorm with the people you trust will give you honest feedback, or pull together a focus group.
  1. Analyze the market. Is there a market need for what you are offering? Who will be your customers? Why will they be your customer vs. your competitors’?
  1. Know where to find funding, and be aware of all the financial risks. Will you be tapping friends and family, a bank loans, or outside investors? The SBA has numerous financial resources and SBA-guaranteed loans are an excellent form of funding for veteran startups. T
  1. Make sure you do a feasibility analysis to make sure you know whether or not small business ownership is right for you. A New Venture Feasibility Analysis Tool is available on the Boots to Business website here: http://boots2business.org/resources/
  1. Remember that your business, and ultimately your success, depends on YOU.

vetfl

By Debbie Gregory.

For many veterans, entrepreneurship has proven to be a viable next career path as the experience, discipline, and work ethic learned in the military provides a competitive edge for starting a business.

The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program is currently accepting applications for the pilot program, which will launch its first phase in March. The statewide initiative offers qualified veterans the opportunity to receive an accelerated entrepreneurship education at no cost.

Veterans Florida, a non-profit created by the Florida Legislature to attract and retain veterans, selected the University of West Florida, through its Florida SBDC Network and Military Veterans Resource Center, to administer the program.

In order to meet the program requirements, veterans must have been either honorably discharged, current National Guardsmen or Reservists, or active duty within one year of separation.  Also required is Florida residency, and of course, a strong interest in entrepreneurship.

The first phase of the program consists of an eight-week online class,which will provide participants with a strong business foundation.

The next phase consists of six days (over three consecutive weekends) of on-site training at one of the five participating institutions of higher education: The University of West Florida, University of North Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida Atlantic University, and Hillsborough Community College. All travel expenses will be covered for participants.

The final phase of the program consists of six-months of ongoing mentorship with Florida SBDC Network business consultants.

The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program is funded through a $1 million appropriation by the Florida Legislature.

“Veterans possess many of the skills necessary to be successful entrepreneurs,” said Bobby Carbonell, Executive Director of Veterans Florida. “The technical and financial skills provided from this program, along with the motivation, confidence, attention to detail and problem solving skills they bring, will ensure veterans achieve their vision of the American Dream, owning their own business.”

Space is limited. The deadline to apply is March 15, 2016. For more information, and to apply, please visit www.FloridaVetBiz.org.

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