Are you close to getting out of the military, not ready to retire, but unsure of employment prospects as a civilian? Think Veteran’s Entrepreneur Program. Why? Discipline, perspective, motivation, problem-solving and unique experience—all characteristics of military veterans that slate them as ideal candidates for employment or for starting their own successful businesses. Nobody understands this better than the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), who also recognizes that there are often barriers to disabled veterans finding suitable employment or accessing resources and training that they need to get started as entrepreneurs. Their solution was to develop the Veteran’s Entrepreneur Program (VEP).
The VEP will work with you to evaluate your interests and strengths, and it provides resources and hands-on training to learn the language of the civilian business world, and provides support in areas such as franchising, start-up, loans, grants and other funding, connecting with corporate partners, employment opportunities, working with small business resource partners such as the Small Business Administration, faith-based organizations, and the Veteran Business Outreach Centers, mentoring, and accessing technical assistance such as that of the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, who partners with veteran entrepreneurs to navigate all phases of government contracting. This also means working with experts, such as accounts or lawyers to learn the legal ins and outs of owning your own business.
The VEP also provides access to Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), a self-study program in three phases with tons of support offered by these eight impressive universities:
- Martin J Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University
- Anderson School of Management, University of California, Los Angeles
- College of Business, Florida State University
- Mays Business School, Texas A&M University
- Krannert School of Management, Purdue University
- School of Business, University of Connecticut
- E. J. Ourso College of Business, Louisiana State University
- School of Hotel Administration (hospitality, food and beverage focus), Cornell University
The EBV is not your average skeleton entrepreneur 101 training program; rather, it was designed specifically for military veterans to build from the skills and training, as well as the typical characteristics of members of the military. It is described as being meaningful, thorough and first-rate. The EBV also assists with topics such as adjusting concepts if necessary, improving products and services, developing business plans, market analysis, marketing, budgeting, and developing a business model. More information about the program, its history, the application process, partners and tools can be found on the EBV website at .
No matter where you are in your military career, I would urge you to visit these websites and evaluate where you envision yourself career-wise in the future. Do you want to work for someone else, or are you on the road to being your own boss? Your military experience places you in a class of your own, and you may be surprised at what “thinking outside the box” with some help from the VEP and the EBV can bring.