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Tactical Veteran: Resources, mentors offer small-business starting points

Jan. 6, 2014 - 11:09AM   |  
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Over the last couple of columns, I’ve offered advice from fellow veterans who are entrepreneurs and finding success in business.

Being a veteran has its perks in the small-business industry, giving you ample opportunities to get your business off the ground. Finding the right people and/or organizations for support will be crucial to getting your business started, so let’s take a look at some veteran-friendly agencies that can help.

■Veterans Affairs Small Business. www.va.gov/osdbu/entrepreneur/index.asp

The Veterans Affairs Department is always a good first step. VA helps veterans with everything dealing with starting a business — funding, resources, mentorship, franchising and government contracting through VetBiz at www.vetbiz.gov.

■U.S. Small Business Administration Veterans Business Development. www.sba.gov/content/veterans

SBA has an array of free services for vets looking to start their own businesses. SBA Centers are located throughout the country, so find the nearest office. I’m working with a mentor through SBA, and with her expertise in running a small business, I feel very confident I will reach my goals.

■SCORE. www.score.org/topics/veteran_guards_reservists

Much like SBA, SCORE has many services to help you get started. SCORE is a nonprofit that offers mentoring, online webinars, local workshops and many useful online resources.

■National Veterans Small Business Conference. http://nationalveteransconference.com/

Like when it comes to job hunting, networking will be important in getting your business started. Attending workshops, events or conferences will give you great opportunities to network with other entrepreneurs and gather firsthand intel. Be on the lookout for upcoming small-business conferences, workshops or events.

These are hardly the only agencies out there to help you with starting your own business; many organizations and entrepreneurs offer free help. As you move forward in developing your business, be sure to let business contacts know you are a veteran — particularly a disabled veteran — for other possible benefits.

Working with a mentor — someone who has been there and done that — is a good route to consider. From my own experience, just figuring out where to start is difficult, so link up with a mentor who can help answer any questions you may have.

Much like transitioning out of the military, trying to start a small business on your own without the proper advice and guidance could crush your dreams of someday being your own boss.

In my next column, I’ll take a look at the basic beginning steps to starting your own business.

Steven Maieli is the founder of http://TransitioningVeteran.com, which highlights links to federal, state, for-profit and nonprofit veterans benefits and other resources. He also writes a blog on transitioning veterans’ issues at www.transitioningveteran.com/wordpress.
Send questions and comments to http://tacticalveteran@militarytimes.com.

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