Ask SCORE: From boots to business — veterans excel as entrepreneurs

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, January 1, 2019

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, the number of veteran-owned businesses was 2.5 million (9 percent of all companies in the U.S.). Those businesses employed over 5 million people.

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

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

• Leadership skills

• Proficiency in assessing risks

• The drive to rise to the challenge

• Adept at strategic thinking

• 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 challenging 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.

Business startup resources for veterans

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 to 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 their 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, too. 

In addition to these resources, veterans can also gain valuable guidance and insight by requesting a SCORE mentor. SCORE volunteers understand the many challenges facing small business owners, and they have experience in all aspects of starting and growing a company. Mentoring provided by SCORE is free and available through in-person sessions, email, phone calls and Skype and Google Hangout video meetings.

Contact SCORE for more information about mentoring and the other educational opportunities it provides.

If you would like help with this process, or other aspects of your established or start-up business, the volunteers at SCORE are available to help.  SCORE is a nationwide network of over 13,000 experienced volunteer executives offering free assistance to small businesses looking for mentoring, counseling, tools and workshops.  You can read about SCORE at  The Polk County Branch of SCORE can be reached at 828-351-9003 or via email at