Not just anyone is cut out to start a business. You need to have a backbone. You need the capability to quickly decide which risks are worth taking, and the confidence to move forward fast.
Veterans pick up all these skills on active duty. Even more importantly, they learn to work as a team. It takes a village to start and run a successful business; you just can’t do it alone.
As most know there is more to starting and running a company than legal and tax issues.
I can tell you firsthand: you need a great network of connections and a solid support system. When you transition from active military duty to civilian life, you may not have the connections you need to succeed in business.
These three mentor driven resources will help you get connected and greatly boost your chances of startup success at any stage.
The Transitional Stage
For newly retired veterans transitioning into a civilian career, American Corporate Partners (ACP) is a resource that I highly recommend. ACP connects veterans to corporate business mentors, offering year-long mentorships and an online community, all for free.
I filled out the application at the ACP website, and they promptly called me back to ask questions about my career path. They paired me up with a mentor who worked at Bloomberg – he was a former JAG officer with expertise in the legal and marketing fields, which was extremely helpful for starting NextGenJustice. My ACP mentorship lasted 12 months, and we’re still in touch to this day.
Another great resource for the transitioning military entrepreneur is Kauffman’s Fasttrac For The Veteran Entrepreneur, an intensive 10-week online course. Fasttrac courses are packed with useful tools, insight and resources, and they typically cost $700 – but the Veteran Entrepreneur course is completely free.
The Startup Stage
For veteran entrepreneurs building tech startups, Patriot Bootcamp (presented by TechStars) is an absolute must. PBC is an intensive three-day event for military veterans. It’s hosted in many locations throughout the country, and it’s open to active duty service-members, veterans and military spouses.
I’ve met some incredible people at Patriot Bootcamp, both as an attendee and a volunteer. Entrepreneurs and investors from hugely successful startups like Google and Facebook give educational speeches at PBC. Better yet, they answer questions one-on-one with attending entrepreneurs.
One of the highlights of PBC is the round robin event. It’s sort of like speed dating for entrepreneurs and mentors. You’ll make powerful connections and have all of your questions answered in just a few minutes.
The Acceleration Stage
When you’re ready to scale your startup, be sure to check out The Bunker Labs – a national organization committed to helping veteran entrepreneurs accelerate their business growth. The Bunker provides a workspace for military entrepreneurs to work on their businesses while surrounded by a like-minded support network. The Bunker also provides education, mentors and funding support.
After World War II, 49% percent of veterans started their own businesses, boosting the United States economy. It’s time for the next generation of veterans to do the same. By utilizing the skills and values you picked up throughout your combat experience, you’re fully equipped to change the world with your business.