SHOLEH PATRICK: Veterans, tap into your entrepreneurial spirit

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There must be something about military training that is conducive to business. Veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than non-vets.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in 10 small businesses is owned by a veteran, collectively generating $1.4 trillion in annual sales.

So it’s no surprise the U.S. Small Business Administration is eager to help veteran-owned businesses up and running. The SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development’s “Boots to Business” (B2B) training is just one of several programs designed to help veterans, service-disabled vets, reserve component (and National Guard) members — or their spouses, dependents, and survivors — start or expand small businesses, and maximize potential success. The SBA also gives Veteran Advantage Loans to existing vet- or military spouse-owned businesses.

“…(E)xperience tells us veterans make great entrepreneurs,” writes SBA Administrator Linda McMahon in a November 2017 blog at SBA.gov. “Military experience equips them with leadership and management skills they can apply to their civilian careers. More than a third of veteran business owners say they learned directly relevant or transferable business skills while on active duty.”

Boots to Business is part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP). It provides participants with an overview of business ownership. Its companion program, “Boots to Business Reboot,” brings the B2B curriculum off installations and into communities for veterans, the National Guard and Reserve, and military spouses.

The B2B/B2B Reboot curriculum starts with the two-day Introduction to Entrepreneurship course, which teaches business fundamentals and evaluation techniques. From there participants choose among optional courses and follow-up actions, or connect with SBA business advisors and resources. The B2B Reboot and other veteran business support, SBA collaborates with Veterans Business Outreach Centers, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and SCORE (a national nonprofit small business mentoring program).

Regional Veterans Business Outreach Centers provide entrepreneurial counseling, training, information, and assistance, as well as access to capital and government contracting. The closest are Big Sky Economic Development in Billings, Mont., 406, 869-8411 or 8408; and Business Impact NW in Seattle, Wash., 206-324-4330 ext. 122.

For more information contact SBA at boots-to-business@sba.gov or 202-205-VET1 (8381).

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Sholeh Patrick is an NIBJ columnist. Email: sholeh@cdapress.com

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