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By Debbie Gregory.

As post-9/11 veterans re-enter civilian life and begin transitioning to new careers, many find they’re perfectly suited to becoming a veteran entrepreneur. Here’s a list of some free resources to help start or grow a business:

Bunker in a Box was created by The Bunker, and it’s the ultimate source of thought leadership from top entrepreneurs and veterans around the U.S. The short and simple online mini-course in veterans entrepreneurship is divided into 14 “missions” created around the themes of INSPIRE, EDUCATE and CONNECTION The missions include topics such as confidence to be an entrepreneur, thinking like an entrepreneur, testing hypotheses, and working on a venture as a team, plus many more. Each lesson has a short video from the Bunker team, as well as relevant third-party articles, interviews, podcasts and presentations from prominent entrepreneurs and experts.

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) is a free training program for post-9/11 veterans with a service-connected disability. Offered by Cornell, Syracuse, Florida State, UCLA, Texas A&M, Purdue, UConn, LSU, Saint Joseph’s, and the University of Missouri, the program is sponsored by Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University. The novel, one-of-a-kind initiative is designed to leverage the skills, resources and infrastructure of higher education to offer cutting-edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management. The 30-day, instructor-led curriculum is taught online, followed by a 9-day in-residence session at the university. Participants also receive follow-up support and mentoring after the program. The program runs from March through November each year. While all of the costs are covered for qualified participants, the opportunity is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Since 2012, Patriot Boot Camp (PBC) has been on a mission to assemble and activate an inclusive community that advances veterans and military spouses in their mission to become creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs leading the new economy. PBC’s core program is an intensive 3-day technology entrepreneurship boot camp modeled after the Techstars accelerator to provide educational training and 1:1 mentoring to inspire and advance startup founders. PBC runs this program twice per year, in Texas and Colorado, for cohorts of 50 tech entrepreneurs.

The StreetShares Foundation mission is to inspire, educate and support veteran small business owners. The non-profit foundation gives away $10,000 in veteran business grants to veteran or military spouse entrepreneurs each month. First, second, and third-place awards of $5,000, $3,000, and $2,000 are awarded, and applications may be submitted at any time.

VetToCEO offers a free 7-week online program called “Entrepreneurship for Transitioning Warriors” through a series of modules that cover everything you need to start your business. Lessons are recorded for later viewing in case you miss one. A full course outline can be found here. Veterans can join the program at any time through a simple registration process in a rolling enrollment model. Enrollment is free for veterans and transitioning military members.

Your local Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) is a good resource for training, counseling and mentoring, and also provides transition assistance programs via Boots to Business Program.

The Veteran Entrepreneur Portal (VEP) is hosted by the VA and offers resources on starting, financing, and growing a business, in addition to government contracting opportunities. VEP makes it easier for small businesses to access federal services, regardless of its source—and quickly connects Veteran entrepreneurs to relevant ‘best-practices’ and information.

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By Debbie Gregory.

Many U.S. military veterans leave their service branch with skills and attributes necessary to succeed as veteran business owners.

Often times, buy more about the main roadblock for these entrepreneurs is financing their new mission: to become a veteran business owner or a service disabled veteran business owner.

If you’re looking to start or expand your business, physician there are a number of financing options available.

Start with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veteran Entrepreneur Portal.  The website features all things related to veteran entrepreneurship, sale including a customized wizard that will identify financing resources to support the start-up, development, or growth of veteran owned small businesses.

The U.S. Small Business Administration created the Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan to offer very low-interest loans to help reservists rebuild their businesses after serving their country. Reservists who are also business owners have to balance those two responsibilities in addition to their families. This loan is limited to businesses that the SBA determines would be unable to recover without government assistance.

Another SBA program designed to serve a particular subsection military veterans is the Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Program. Veterans with a service-connected disability who are principal owners of a small business may be connected with sole-source government contracts of up to $5 million.

StreetShares offers a loan platform where investors compete in an online auction format to fund different portions of an applicant’s business loans. The investor that offers the lowest interest rate “wins” the agreement.   StreetShares’ non-profit foundation has partnered with JP Morgan Chase to commit $10,000 per month in awards to eligible reserve or active-duty service members and military veteran small business owners. Three winners are chosen monthly to split a $10,000 prize based on the merits of their business plan and the potential impact of the business on the military and veterans communities.

Non-profit Accion Veteran-Owned Business Loans provides loans up to $1 million, depending on the business’ need. Accion is often able to fund loans for veteran business owners who may not be eligible for commercial loans.

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