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When it comes to determination, discipline, and an unwavering commitment to excellence, few groups exemplify these qualities like our nation's veterans.
As you transition from military service into civilian life, you may embark on a new mission: entrepreneurship. Starting and running a small business is a journey that requires dedication, resourcefulness, and a well-equipped toolbox.
The military provides specific training and skills that could be transferable to owning a business in the civilian world.
“These veterans are often seeking help but don’t necessarily want to be employed by someone else,” said Tim Mittan, Nebraska District Director of the Small Business Administration (SBA). “If they’ve been in a leadership position, they’re primed as entrepreneurs. Our job is to help them be successful in the civilian world.”
According to David Rangeloff of the Fremont Area Veterans Coalition, more than half of the veterans and spouses his organization serves are older than 50.
“They are in a transition state, ready to explore a different career,” David said.
Starting your own business is often an appealing option, and you’re uniquely set up for success due to your military pension and access to health insurance.
From funding opportunities and mentorship programs to government initiatives and specialized training, several resources are available, tailored to meet your needs and set you up for a successful road as a small business owner. Additionally, as you and your spouse get involved in these programs, you become part of a network and can serve as support for other veterans with entrepreneurship goals.
“Don’t ever think you’re alone,” Tim said. “There is always a resource available to you, and often it will be free. There is no reason to go it alone.”
Below we explore available tools that can help you turn your visions into thriving enterprises.
Veterans Business Outreach Center
The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) at Nebraska Enterprise Fund is a critical lifeline for veterans. Developed by the SBA and designed by veterans, this resource is dedicated to providing comprehensive support and assistance to veterans and service members who aspire to start or expand their businesses.
Within the VBOC network, business experts offer a range of services tailored to your specific needs. These services include business training, counseling, and mentorship, all of which are designed to equip veterans with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship successfully.
One of the primary benefits is that veterans receive a personalized roadmap for their entrepreneurial journeys. Whether it's crafting a solid business plan, securing financing, or fine-tuning marketing strategies, the VBOC offers the guidance and resources necessary to bolster the chances of business success.
Additionally, you can tap into the vast network of mentors and industry experts connected to the VBOC to gain insights, advice, and support essential for launching and growing a business.
Once you have established a business and have positive revenue for at least two years, you can work with the SBA to become a veteran-certified organization. This certification status allows you a higher rank in the contracting hierarchy, opens up doors for the ability to bid on federal contracts, and gives you a competitive advantage in the marketplace. These certifications were handled by Veteran Affairs in the past, but are now the responsibility of the SBA.
Not located in Nebraska? Find your VBOC here.
Boots to Business
Boots to Business is an entrepreneurial program provided on military bases as a component of the Department of Defense's Transition Assistance Program in collaboration with the SBA.
This free, two-day introduction to entrepreneurship training class covers the topics you need to consider before and as you start your business. Additionally, a scaled-down version of Boots to Business called Reboot is offered off base.
These trainings are provided throughout the year in person and online. This allows veterans to connect with VBOC personnel and receive information about resources.
Fremont Area Veterans Coalition
The Fremont Area Veterans Coalition in Fremont, Nebraska, provides comprehensive support to veterans transitioning into civilian life. This includes assistance in navigating the often complex process of accessing health care benefits and finding suitable housing. The coalition also offers guidance on educational opportunities and job placement, helping you secure stable employment and build prosperous futures.
One such opportunity is the Veteran Business Incubator. Classes within the incubator start with the basics, helping veterans get to know themselves and find their passions. This lays the groundwork for business success before you move on to forming business plans, determining target markets, and researching grants. This program works closely with the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s business center to get federal bids and agencies.
Don’t know where to start? We can help. Contact our staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402.870.1521.