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Owning your own business, being your own boss – it’s the American dream. You can see it every Friday night on Shark Tank, or in commercials for Small Business Saturdays. It’s no surprise that military veterans make excellent entrepreneurs because of the skills they gained while serving. And in a challenging economy when jobs for military veterans may be scarce, a great option for veterans is to start their own business.

Entrepreneurs can be at the helm of a mom & pop corner store, or a major corporation like Enterprise Rental Car or Starbucks. But just because you have many of the required skills to be an entrepreneur, that doesn’t guarantee success.

A military veteran benefit for entrepreneurs comes in the form of a boost from the VA when starting or growing a business. While everyone knows that a major veteran benefit is education for veterans, many may not know that the VA will pay for other programs. Education for veterans offered by Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), the most comprehensive small business assistance network in the United States, is one such program.

Entrepreneurship training through the SBDC allows eligible service members and veterans to use VA education benefits to take courses they offer. SBDCs can help you plan your veteran finances with business plan development, procurement, market research, lending assistance and more.

Those who are eligible to receive reimbursement for approved entrepreneurship courses include those eligible for any of the following VA Education Programs:

  • Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty
  • Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve
  • Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program
  • The Post-9/11 GI Bill

For additional information on using your military veteran benefits with SBDCs, visit the VA Entrepreneurship Training Web page.

To locate course offerings near you, or view training opportunities on the web, contact the Small Business Development Center directly athttp://www.sba.gov/sbdc/ or by phone at 800-8 ASK SBA.

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Many military veterans are successful entrepreneurs because of the leadership qualities honed during their service. There are numerous resources available to help veteran owned businesses as they start up and grow.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA)  http://www.vamboa.org

VAMBOA, a non-profit trade association, provides for the development, growth and prosperity of Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners of all sizes. VAMBOA’s future expansion includes establishing regional chapters throughout the country.

StreetShares  https://streetshares.com/

StreetShares is a social-lending marketplace that connects small business owners with investors. On the StreetShares marketplace, business owners pitch their stories directly to retail and institutional investors, who then place bids to fund a portion of the business owner’s requested loan.

21 Gun Salute Initiative  http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/232955

The General Services Administration’s program to support service-disabled veteran owned businesses is known as the 21 Gun Salute Initiative. The 21 Gun Salute was created with gratitude for the injured soldier turned businessperson. The Salute is an action plan to meet and exceed the 3% contracting goal with the nation’s service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

 American Corporate Partners  http://www.acp-usa.org/

This non-profit organization offers veterans tools for long-term career development through mentoring, career counseling, and networking opportunities.

The Bunker http://bunkerlabs.org/

The goal of the Bunker is goal is to launch and accelerate veteran-owned businesses, channel the energy among veterans to become entrepreneurs and business owners, and create a new forum for high-performing veterans to meet and collaborate.

BusinessUSA  http://business.usa.gov/

The BusinessUSA Veterans Resource tool is an interactive guide to help veteran business owners find the most relevant federal, state and local tools to help start and grow their businesses.

Boots to Business  http://boots2business.org/

Boots to Business is an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP). The curriculum continuum includes steps for evaluating business concepts, the foundational knowledge required to develop a business plan and information on SBA resources available to help access start-up capital and additional technical assistance.

EBV Foundation  http://www.ebvfoundation.org/

The EBV National Program offers cutting-edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans with service-connected disabilities as well as to military family members who serve in a caregiver role to a veteran with a service-connected disability. The program is offered at no cost. The foundation provides grants to graduates of the program and help with business plan development.

FedBizOpps  https://www.fbo.gov/

The Federal Business Opportunities website provides a portal for businesses looking for active federal contracting opportunities. While not restricted to veteran owned businesses, it can still be a useful resource for finding opportunities.

Honor Courage Commitment, Inc.  http://www.honorcouragecommitment.org/

HCC provides resources and empowerment to veteran entrepreneurs including grants, scholarships and a fellowship program designed to build leadership qualities. HCC trains and positions military veterans to become successful entrepreneurs, business and community leaders by maximizing veteran talent.

Institute for Veteran and Military Families  http://vets.syr.edu/

A program of Syracuse University, IVMF is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans, and provides a wide variety of resources for military veterans. There are numerous resources for veterans re-entering the workforce or looking to start their own businesses.

National Veteran Business Development Council – NVBDC – www.nvbdc.org

The National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that will act as the certification body for Veteran Owned Businesses (VOB) and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) to ensure that credible documentation exists of a business’s Veteran status, ownership and control. The NVBDC shall certify the validity of the VOB or SDVOB business seeking opportunity in the Supplier Diversity initiatives made available to veteran owned businesses.

National Veteran Small Business Coalition  http://www.nvsbc.com/

This organization works to ensure that veteran owned small businesses are given first consideration for federal prime and subcontracting procurement opportunities. Members receive access to resources related to federal contracting.

Patriot Boot Camp  http://patriotbootcamp.org/

Patriot Boot Camp is an accelerator program focused on helping military veterans and their spouses become successful technology entrepreneurs. Open to all active duty military members, veterans and their spouses, the main program is a 3-day event that provides participants with free education, training and mentorship.

SBA Contracting Support for Small Businesses  https://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/contracting

The SBA offers resources for service-disabled veteran owned businesses looking to procure federal contracts. The SDVOSBC program allows procuring agencies to set aside contracts specifically for veteran owned businesses.

VetBiz  http://www.vetbiz.gov/

The VA’s VetBiz site provides information about the Center for Verification and Evaluation’s efforts to verify Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs) and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs).  SDVOSBs and VOSBs who want to participate in the VA’s Veterans First Contracting Program must be verified by CVE in order to be eligible for VA contract set-asides.

VetBizCentral  http://vetbizcentral.org/

VetBizCentral is a veteran run site that assists veteran and active duty military entrepreneurs in the formation and expansion of their businesses through training and counseling, networking opportunities, mentoring and advocacy.

Veteran Business Outreach Centers  https://www.sba.gov/offices/headquarters/ovbd/resources/362341

The SBA provides assistance locally through Veteran Business Outreach Centers. The centers assist veterans in locating resources in their local communities, such as such as business training, counseling and mentoring.

Veteran Entrepreneur Portal  http://www.va.gov/osdbu/entrepreneur/

As part of the VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal provides access to a number of business tools and services, including starting and expanding a business, acquisition support, strategic support and more.

Veteran Fast Launch Initiative  https://www.score.org/vetsfastlaunch

The Veteran Fast Launch Initiative is a package of free software and services combined with SCORE’s mentoring program in order to help accelerate the ability of veterans and their families to start and succeed as small business owners.

Vetrepreneur Mentoring  http://vetrepreneurmentoring.com/index.html

Vetrepreneur Mentoring provides mentoring, guidance and expertise to help veteran entrepreneurs with everything from contractor registration to website creation.

Victory Spark  http://gan.co/members/view/victory-spark

Victory Spark is a program of the larger Global Entrepreneurship Collective, Inc. umbrella. Specifically, Victory Spark focuses on servicing U.S. Military Veteran-led startups. The program includes a 12-week mentor-driven Lean LaunchPad Program, along with grant funding for entrepreneurs who complete the program.

V-Wise  http://whitman.syr.edu/vwise/

An entrepreneurship project of the Whitman School of Management, Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-Wise) provides resources, courses and mentorship to female veterans who have started businesses or are looking to do so.

road work

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently approved H.R. 1694, the Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment Act. The legislation would include veterans in the Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program and would provide parity for the nearly 1 million veterans who are small business owners seeking government contracts. This would level the playing field in federal contracting for veteran-owned businesses by providing veterans access to existing preferences authorized for transportation projects.

Sponsored by Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Don Young (R-Alaska), the legislation calls for states that receive federal money for transportation projects to included veteran-owned businesses in their contracting processes. They added that there are 380,000 construction firms that are owned by veterans in the U.S. that could help build projects across the nation.

Currently, only half of the states meet their DBE goals. Adding veteran small businesses to this program would increase the pool of eligible firms at the states’ disposal. For states that already meet their goals, this bill does not affect them or the small business contractors they employ.

“Our veterans are the most highly skilled workforce in America’s history – the product of rigorous training, an iron-clad commitment to teamwork and the remarkable ability to succeed where others might fail,” said Fitzpatrick. He continued. “We need Fairness to Veterans so we are leveraging the unique strengths of veteran entrepreneurs to address the challenges at home.”

“There’s no question that America’s veterans, who have sacrificed so much for the greater good, are able and ready to put their battle tested skills towards improving our nation’s roads, highways, and critical infrastructure projects,” said Young

The legislation now goes on to the Senate for consideration. The text of the bill is available on the Congress.gov website.

SBA Santa Ana District Office

Women Veterans Entrepreneurial Network (WOVEN) |  November 4, 2015  |  8:30 am – 5:00 pm  |  The Delhi Center  |  505 E Central Ave  |  Santa Ana, CA 92707

Whatever stage your business is in, WOVEN will have interactive, informative sessions that will give you concrete steps to move your business forward.

  • Transform your business with your uniqueness
  • Negotiate better deals, find more power, and create win-win results
  • Become a junior expert in your market
  • Find your perfect client or customer

Barbara Carson, Acting Associate Administrator, SBA Office of Veterans Business Development will be the lunchtime keynote speaker for WOVEN.

Register
for WOVEN
today!

Registration fees of $25 cover continental
breakfast, lunch and a copy of “Think
Like A Negotiator
” by
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez.

Find more information: bit.ly/cameowoven

Download a WOVEN flyer and
help spread the word.

Micro-business and self-employment offers
veterans increased opportunities to maximize their strengths and skills to
achieve their financial and career goals. CAMEO is working with the US Small Business Administration to
bring you a special intensive business training as part of Veterans Small
Business Week. The event is geared toward women veterans and military spouses
(but we are inclusive) who want to be their own boss and become a small
business owner.

hobby-job

Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious via photopin cc

Looking to start a business?

Or would you rather have a J-O-B… maybe that hobby would be fun, perhaps you can profit with that?

To clarify, hobbies, jobs, and startups are great ideas. Just be sure to approach them in the right way.

Webster’s Definitions:

Hobby – an interest outside one’s general occupation, particularly for unwinding.

JOB – routine work that someone does to earn a paycheck.

Business – a venture of making, purchasing, or offering products/services in return for money.

Can I turn my hobby into a business?

You can. But it won’t be your hobby any more. We all ought to have a diversion in life…something you do on special occasion or to relax.

I love awesome BBQ (like I’m the only one, right?). I love cooking it, hanging around the smoker and seeing it reach perfection.

However, imagine a scenario where I needed to get up each morning at 3am to put meat on the smoker and get everything prepared for my customers. Would I like it as much? Would it transform my enthusiasm into drudgery? Possibly.

Owning a BBQ smokehouse has around 22,418 more “jobs” to it than simply smoking some brisket from a lawn chair. I would need to have a full comprehension of the restaurant business before making my BBQ pastime into a business.

At that point I would need to get another hobby!

What if I make a business out of my current job?

Ok. Suppose you have killer welding abilities at the place you work at presently. Why not open a welding shop in your town and satisfy all their welding needs?

But your welding skills were just one part of your previous employers company. How did they attract customers? Who purchased the supplies? Who did the bookwork…managed the utilities?

You might need to trade in your welder’s helmet for the various business hats you’ll end up wearing. At that point, are you doing more jobs than the just the welding, at which you excelled?

But won’t I be more relaxed if I great my business like a hobby?

Sure…if by “relaxed” you mean “failed”. You just can’t run your business the same way you treat your hobby.

I took up biking and it cost me $300 for a used mountain bike. Fishing is fun and got a fly rod for Christmas last year. I purchase a few flies each time I go to Bass Pro.

However, I can stop fly fishing for a time and not have any effect on my salary, employment or business.

That’s the reason it’s a hobby… you don’t HAVE to do it.

And, in the event that you switch or stop a hobby,

you likely won’t miss a car payment.

You can start and stop hobbies often. Nobody will mind. Well maybe if you have 28 fly rods and only use them once every 4 years, your wife might comment on it! But that topic is for another day.

Run your business with intention. Create SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound). Define the jobs within the business and the people that should be doing them.

Organizations ought to be run diligently (with the proper time off for those hobbies). Try not to “wish” or “hope” things get completed… dole out every one of the tasks BEFORE you open for business. You’ll have enough surprises without making them yourself.

Brian Richardson runs VetLaunched.com. He helps veterans start their own business through coaching, training, classes and trusted resources. Pick up a copy of his unique resource list at www.VetLaunched.com.

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