In the course of serving our nation, veterans learn valuable skills and self-discipline that they can carry through to their post-military careers.

One professional path that some veterans take is entrepreneurship. According to the most recent U.S. Census data, in 2012, there are 2,521,682 veteran-owned businesses in the country (9% of all American companies). Those businesses employed more than 5 million people.

What traits do veterans have that make them successful business owners?

Some of the characteristics that many veterans and successful entrepreneurs have in common are:

» leadership skills;

» proficiency in assessing risks;

» the drive to rise to the challenge;

» adept at strategic thinking; and

» the ability to adapt to the situation at hand.

Veterans’ military training and experiences in their tour of duty lay a foundation of responsibility and accountability. That can be a tremendous advantage when navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship.

Of course, starting and growing a business also requires additional learning. Fortunately, some excellent resources exist to help veterans as they embrace their dreams of business ownership:

Veterans Fast Launch Initiative by SCORE. The SCORE Foundation and several major corporations have partnered to offer this program. It provides free software and services in combination with SCORE’s mentoring program to help veterans and their families start and succeed as small-business owners.

Boots 2 Business Reboot. This entrepreneurship training program through the U.S. Small Business Administration helps veterans and their spouses learn what’s involved in starting a business. Classes are held throughout the U.S. and are available online, as well.

Office of Veterans Business Development. The OVBD facilitates the use of all SBA programs by veterans, active military personnel and their spouses and children. Services and resources include funding for veteran-owned small businesses, entrepreneurship training programs and veteran contracting.

Veteran Entrepreneur Portal. VEP provides veterans with direct online access to resources that can help guide them through the steps of starting and running a business.

Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship. V-WISE helps women veterans and female military partners learn the skills necessary to develop their ideas and start businesses. The training program involves an online course, a three-day training event and ongoing mentoring and training.

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities. The EBV program helps post-9/11 veterans with service-related disabilities develop their business knowledge and entrepreneurial skills. Since it was founded at Syracuse University in 2007, it has expanded to other universities throughout America.

For more information about starting or operating a small business, call SCORE at (434) 295-6712 or visit centralvirginia.score.org.

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