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Military entrepreneurship is on the rise. Entrepreneurs find that the military and the business world require similar skill sets. Both environments demand the ability to pivot and strategize midstream. This adaptability helps military veterans and spouses manage the challenges of starting successful businesses. But sometimes entrepreneurial resources dedicated to the military community are hard to find.
If you’re ready to venture out on your own but aren’t sure where or how to start, check out these companies and nonprofit organizations offering programs and resources for the military.
It’s a good idea to wait until after your service is complete to open a small business, due to the demands of military work. Being “on call” in the National Guard can make it difficult to reliably commit to business ownership.
Office of Veterans Business Development
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a variety of programs for military and veteran entrepreneurs. These even include small business grants and loans.
The Office of Veterans Business Development’s mission is to maximize the availability, applicability and usability of small business programs for veterans who may or may not be service-disabled. Reserve members are also eligible. So are the dependents or survivors of service members in these categories.
The OVBD’s resources page is a one-stop-shop of resources for military and veteran entrepreneurs.
Veterans Small Business Training Programs
The Service-Disabled Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program offers free training programs through several partnerships with organizations, including the Institute for Veterans and Military Families Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program through the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University and the St. Joseph’s University Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans. These programs are free and require applications.
The Veteran-Owned Small Business Growth Training Program is a no-cost peer-to-peer training program to help veteran-owned small businesses grow their professional networks and presences. More information can be found on the SBA website.
Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs
Two military spouses founded the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs (AMSE). It serves to bridge the gap between a military spouse’s business dreams and the tools and resources needed to make those dreams a reality. AMSE aims to create a global resource database for military spouses to connect and learn. It empowers the community to become successful entrepreneurs. It published the Military Spouse Entrepreneur Guide, which it distributes through military networks.
One of AMSE’s greatest benefits is the peer-to-peer interaction, which gives military-spouse business owners access to real-time resources, education, and mentors. After joining, AMSE members receive access to exclusive content. A Facebook page is also available.
Bunker Labs is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that aims to make sure nothing stands in the way of a military veteran or military spouse’s dream of becoming a business owner.
Founded by a Navy veteran, Bunker Labs wants to take the difficulty out of owning a business. Its core mission is about bridging the gap between business dreams and business reality.
Bunker Labs recognizes that military entrepreneurs need a place within their communities to network and connect with others on similar paths. The nonprofit connects other military and veteran entrepreneurs with the tools they need.
Besides hosting networking events, Bunker Labs also offers exceptional entrepreneurial training to offset military spouses’ and veterans’ challenges. These programs range from a Veterans in Residence program to Launch Lab online courses.
Patriot Boot Camp
Patriot Boot Camp offers the military community access to experts, peers and education to help businesses innovate and grow. PBC helps lead the way for the military community to become successful in the current economy.
To meet that goal, the nonprofit offers an intense three-day training program that provides mentorship experience and peer communication. PBC has developed content and educational tracks tailored for all business phases from the earliest days of creation to the later steps of successful business ownership, which can involve rebranding and re-strategizing. Programs are held several times a year in various locations across the country.
The Rosie Network
The Rosie Network is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with more than 10 years of experience training and mentoring transitioning service members, military veterans, and military spouses in their entrepreneurial pursuits.
The Rosie Network’s flagship program, Service2CEO, is a free, individualized small business training and mentorship program for the military community.
The Service2CEO Program includes reading, pitching, mentoring and training. The curriculum, presented by subject-matter experts, covers funding and marketing as well as legal and HR training.
The Rosie Network also produces Military Entrepreneur, a magazine highlighting the accomplishments of service members and their spouses.
Military Influencers Conference
Established in 2016, the Military Influencers Conference (MIC) is a community of entrepreneurs, influencers, creatives, executives and leaders. It has quickly become a “go-to” event for military entrepreneurs, supporting those who believe in the value of a robust and collaborative military community.
MIC is all about mentoring and actively working to inspire the military community to reach ultimate success levels. As an organization, MIC is actively seeking new ways to collaborate with the wider military community. The conference has been put on hold due to Covid-19 and now offers a virtual event.
MIC is all about mentoring and actively working to inspire the military community to reach ultimate success levels. As an organization, MIC is actively seeking new ways to collaborate with the wider military community.
MIC and Ameriforce Media partnered to launch “Military Influencer,” the first quarterly print and digital magazine featuring content focused entirely on military entrepreneurs and influencers. The magazine connects readers with the dynamic voices behind emerging and reputable military brands aligned with today’s unique perspectives on starting companies, building brands and impacting society.
Instant Teams began tackling remote work long before businesses shuttered in 2020 due to Covid-19. Founded by two military spouses who understood that, for their peers, a career is only as lucrative as it is mobile, Instant Teams offers companies access to a diverse and rich pool of potential employees.
Instant Teams reimagines what it means to be part of a team by leveraging the untapped and often overlooked military spouse employment force. It connects companies in need of talent with military spouses who desire flexible employment.
Wise Advise + Assist Team
Like Instant Teams, Wise Advise + Assist Team is a team of military and veteran spouses available for remote work. WAAT focuses on public relations, business strategy, bookkeeping, digital marketing, web design and more.
Since its founding, WAAT has helped bridge the gap between highly qualified military spouses who struggle to find work and companies who need experienced workers. Its website says it solves problems “with military precision.”
Started by an Air Force spouse, Spouse-ly is a military family and lifestyle community founded to help give entrepreneurs access to an audience who wants to buy their products and services.
The platform showcases apparel and lifestyle brands made by military spouses, veteran spouses and military veterans. Products range from jewelry and accessories to bath bombs and cosmetic products. The company also offers coaching, design, education, health, fitness, photography, therapy and travel. Spouse-ly features the option to search by location to find vendors, products and services.
Additional Resources from The Military Wallet
We have previously written helpful articles on the following related topics:
- Small Business Loans for Military Veterans and Spouses
- Tips for Running a Small Business While Serving in the Military