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Veterans make great entrepreneurs: resources to grow and thrive

Veterans make great entrepreneurs. In fact, many of the skills veterans learn in their military training translate very well to business. Skills such as: confidence, self motivation, discipline, listening, determination, leadership, risk management, stress management, teamwork and focus are some that veterans share with successful entrepreneurs. 

According to the Small Business Administration, veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans, and about 2.4 million or 9 percent of all U.S. small businesses are veteran-owned, representing about $1 trillion in annual sales. Additionally, of that 2.4 million, veteran women own close to 100,000 businesses, making up 4 percent of the market.

Many of those women veteran entrepreneurs are likely also minorities. In 2015, data collected by the Department of Veterans Affairs showed that “a higher percentage of women-veterans than non-veterans were Black or African American non-Hispanic (19 percent compared with 12 percent). The racial composition of women in the military explains some of these differences. In contrast, the percentage of women-veterans who were Hispanic was a little more than half that of non-Veterans (9 percent compared with 16 percent).” 

As the fastest growing population in the military, Hispanics make up about 16% of all active-duty military, according to the Department of Defense. Additionally, the National Association of American Veterans states that more Latinas are serving in the Army than Latino men, with Latinas making up 48 percent of the women in the U.S. military. Many of these women may become future entrepreneurs themselves, after their military career. 

In an interview with Latina Style Magazine, Paulette Rivera, Senior Airman, Staff Select in the U.S. Air Force said, “Joining the military is a good stepping stone for any other career in the future and a place to find your voice and gain confidence.” 

That confidence is a key trait for success. Women veterans looking to become business owners and entrepreneurs can leverage their military training and channel those traits into their future ventures. To encourage and support our women veteran entrepreneurs, below are some resources to help you grow and thrive. 

You might be interested: The glass ceiling: Career development inequality for women of color

Resources for Women Veteran Business Owners 

Veteran Entrepreneur Portal (VEP) is designed to save you time with direct access to the resources necessary to guide every step of entrepreneurship. VEP makes it easier for small businesses to access federal services, regardless of its source—and quickly connects Veteran entrepreneurs to relevant ‘best-practices’ and information.

SBA Boots to Business Program – Boots to Business (B2B) is an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by SBA as part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP). B2B provides participants with an overview of business ownership and is open to transitioning service members (including National Guard and Reserve) and their spouses.

Veterans Business Outreach Center Program – SBA’s VBOCs offer business plan workshops, concept assessments, training, counseling, and mentorship opportunities in your area. VBOCs can also help you navigate SBA’s extensive resource partner network and refer you to a community partner, lender, or SBA program. Find your nearest center.

Additional SBA resources for veteran entrepreneurs 

Grants and resources for women-veteran owned businesses

Latinas in Business Editorial Intern Fe-Licitty Branch contributed to this article. 

Veteran Entrepreneur Portal

Veteran Entrepreneur Portal a direct line to entrepreneurship

The Veteran Entrepreneur Portal (VEP) is designed to save you time with direct access to the resources necessary to guide every step of entrepreneurship. VEP makes it easier for small businesses to access federal services, regardless of its source—and quickly connects Veteran entrepreneurs to relevant ‘best-practices’ and information.

 

Veteran Entrepreneur Portal

During the December Unit Training Assembly of the 156 Airlift Wing, Puerto Rico Air National Guard, a National Guard Bureau Diversity Program Staff Assistance Visit helped kick-off the first Lean-In Circle at any Air National Guard base in the U.S.

Veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans, according to the agency, and about 2.4 million or 9 percent of all U.S. small businesses are veteran-owned, representing about $1 trillion in annual sales.

Many consider veterans to be the perfect entrepreneur. The Fire and Adjust website noted 10 reasons why veterans make good entrepreneurs: confidence, self-motivation, discipline, listening skills, determination, leadership, risk management, stress management, teamwork and focus.

“Veterans possess some of the most important skills needed to become successful entrepreneurs,” said Michele Markey, vice president of Kauffman FastTrac. “Leadership experience and the ability to calculate risk, manage teams and take initiative are invaluable characteristics of successful business owners.”

The following are some tips to help veteran entrepreneurs succeed in business:

  1. Leverage military training

Through their years in service, veterans learned valuable skills relevant to running a business, including confidence, self motivation, discipline, listening, determination, leadership, risk management, stress management, teamwork and focus.

Veterans should make the most of their acquired skills and treat them as a competitive advantage. While these skills no longer mean making decisions that amount to the difference between life and death, they can be enlisted to keep a business alive and thriving.

  1. Set up a veteran-owned business

These days diversity programs extend beyond aiding minority- and women-owned programs. Programs within large corporations and government agencies assist veteran-owned and disabled-veteran-owned businesses. Veterans should seek out local, state and federal certifications that give priority to veteran-owned businesses.

  1. Check resources

Other organizations assist veteran-owned businesses. Check local SCOREchapters and the Boots to Business website to find resources that aid veteran-owned businesses.

  1. Seek out training

Running a business is not easy. Programs such as the one offered by Kauffman FastTrac or Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses can be beneficial. Veterans can also inquire about other training opportunities by contacting local community colleges, SCORE and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

  1. Network

Being an entrepreneur is a lonely job. Apart from accruing business-development advantages from actively networking, veterans can receive valuable mentoring from other former servicepeople. Such relationships can be beneficial for dealing with business matters and challenges arising from having been in active service.

“The Office of Veterans Business Development’s (OVBD) mission is to maximize the availability, applicability and usability of small business programs for Veterans, Service-Disabled Veterans, Reserve Component Members, and their dependents or survivors. OVBD is SBA’s liaison with the veterans business community; provides policy analysis and reporting; and is as an Ombudsman for veteran entrepreneurs. OVBD has a number of programs and services to assist aspiring and existing veteran entrepreneurs such as training, counseling and mentorship, and oversight of Federal procurement programs for Veteran-Owned and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses.”

You might be interested: JPMorgan Chase $1M investment supports Black and Latina entrepreneurs startups

Interesting facts about Women Veterans

veteran entrepreneur portal

Airmen participate in an all-women’s retreat at Osan Air Base, March 29, 2012. (U.S. Air Force/Craig Cisek)

  • As the share of women in the military increases, so does the share of veterans who are women. The 2010 Current Population Survey estimates that there are just over 22 million veterans, almost 1.8 million of whom are women (8%); and among the estimated 2.2 million post-9/11 veterans, more than 400,000 (19%) are women.
  • Today’s women veterans have served in every era dating back to World War II, when women in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) and other voluntary divisions served in positions other than nurses for the first time.
  • Nationally, the number of women vets using Veterans Health Administration (VA) services has nearly doubled (PDF) in the past decade, and VA hospitals and clinics have scrambled to meet the needs of their new patients.
  • The share of Hispanics among women and men in the armed forces is similar (13% vs. 12%, respectively), and the share of military women who are Hispanic is smaller than that of Hispanic women ages 18-44 in the U.S. civilian population (16%). But the number of Hispanics enlisting in the active-duty force each year has risen significantly over the last decade. In 2003, Hispanic women and men made up 11.5% of the new enlistees to the military; just seven years later, in 2010, they made up 16.9% of non-prior service enlisted accessions. (From Women in the U.S. Military: Growing Share, Distinctive Profile).

For additional information about the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal please visit https://www.va.gov/osdbu/entrepreneur/

 

 

Sgt. Michallie Wesley, an operations noncommissioned officer in B Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division-Center, answers a question as a panelist taking part in an interactive discussion on the theme of "Women Serving in Combat" at Camp Liberty, Iraq, Wednesday, March 16, 2011 (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jennifer Sardam) (released)

Veteran’s Day: Veterans make great entrepreneurs

In the near term more than 250,000 service members a year will transition into civilian life and become veterans, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). This means the economy will likely experience a significant increase in veteran-owned businesses.

veterans

Sgt. Michallie Wesley, an operations noncommissioned officer in B Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division-Center, answers a question as a panelist taking part in an interactive discussion on the theme of “Women Serving in Combat” at Camp Liberty, Iraq, Wednesday, March 16, 2011 (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jennifer Sardam) (released)

Veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans, according to the agency, and about 2.4 million or 9 percent of all U.S. small businesses are veteran-owned, representing about $1 trillion in annual sales.

Many consider veterans to be the perfect entrepreneur. The Fire and Adjust website noted 10 reasons why veterans make good entrepreneurs: confidence, self-motivation, discipline, listening skills, determination, leadership, risk management, stress management, teamwork and focus.

“Veterans possess some of the most important skills needed to become successful entrepreneurs,” said Michele Markey, vice president of Kauffman FastTrac. “Leadership experience and the ability to calculate risk, manage teams and take initiative are invaluable characteristics of successful business owners.”

The following are some tips to help veteran entrepreneurs succeed in business:

  1. Leverage military training.

Through their years in service, veterans learned valuable skills relevant to running a business, including confidence, self motivation, discipline, listening, determination, leadership, risk management, stress management, teamwork and focus.

Veterans should make the most of their acquired skills and treat them as a competitive advantage. While these skills no longer mean making decisions that amount to the difference between life and death, they can be enlisted to keep a business alive and thriving.

  1. Set up a veteran-owned business

These days diversity programs extend beyond aiding minority- and women-owned programs. Programs within large corporations and government agencies assist veteran-owned and disabled-veteran-owned businesses. Veterans should seek out local, state and federal certifications that give priority to veteran-owned businesses.

  1. Check resources

Other organizations assist veteran-owned businesses. Check local SCOREchapters and the Boots to Business website to find resources that aid veteran-owned businesses.

  1. Seek out training

Running a business is not easy. Programs such as the one offered by Kauffman FastTrac or Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses can be beneficial. Veterans can also inquire about other training opportunities by contacting local community colleges, SCORE and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

  1. Network

Being an entrepreneur is a lonely job. Apart from accruing business-development advantages from actively networking, veterans can receive valuable mentoring from other former servicepeople. Such relationships can be beneficial for dealing with business matters and challenges arising from having been in active service.

The SBA helps entrepreneurs through its Small Business Development Center (or SBDC) program, providing management assistance to current and prospective small business owners. These centers offer one-stop assistance, including information and guidance, to individuals and small businesses in central and easily accessible branch locations.

*All graphs were extracted from the “2013 Minority Veterans Report” prepared by the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics and published on August 2015by the NCVAS National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics.

Midshipman First Class Maia Molina-Schaefer, far right, is the first woman in Naval Academy history to compete in and win the annual brigade boxing championship. Also pictured from the left, are Cadet First Class Jessica C. Tomazic, U.S. Military Academy; Cadet First Class Cindy Nieves, U.S. Air Force Academy; and Cadet First Class Lily Zepeda, U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Photo by Rudi Williams

Midshipman First Class Maia Molina-Schaefer, far right, is the first woman in Naval Academy history to compete in and win the annual brigade boxing championship. Also pictured from the left, are Cadet First Class Jessica C. Tomazic, U.S. Military Academy; Cadet First Class Cindy Nieves, U.S. Air Force Academy; and Cadet First Class Lily Zepeda, U.S. Coast Guard Academy. (Photo by Rudi Williams)

Interesting facts about Women Veterans

  • As the share of women in the military increases, so does the share of veterans who are women. The 2010 Current Population Survey estimates that there are just over 22 million veterans, almost 1.8 million of whom are women (8%); and among the estimated 2.2 million post-9/11 veterans, more than 400,000 (19%) are women.
  • Today’s women veterans have served in every era dating back to World War II, when women in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) and other voluntary divisions served in positions other than nurses for the first time.
  • Nationally, the number of women vets using Veterans Health Administration (VA) services has nearly doubled (PDF) in the past decade, and VA hospitals and clinics have scrambled to meet the needs of their new patients.
  • The share of Hispanics among women and men in the armed forces is similar (13% vs. 12%, respectively), and the share of military women who are Hispanic is smaller than that of Hispanic women ages 18-44 in the U.S. civilian population (16%). But the number of Hispanics enlisting in the active-duty force each year has risen significantly over the last decade. In 2003, Hispanic women and men made up 11.5% of the new enlistees to the military; just seven years later, in 2010, they made up 16.9% of non-prior service enlisted accessions. (From Women in the U.S. Military: Growing Share, Distinctive Profile).
Women in Aviation Week

Women’s History Month Women of Aviation Worldwide Week

It’s Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, a global awareness week that promotes women’s advancement in the aerospace industry. It takes place annually during the week of March 8, which is the anniversary date of the world’s first female pilot license and International Women’s Day.

Graciela Tiscareno-Sato, a US Air Force Veteran

Graciela Tiscareno-Sato, a US Air Force Veteran

As in many other industries, women representation in aviation is grim; only 6 percent of pilots are female, while females account for just 2 percent of all aircraft mechanics. Of the few Latinas in this profession, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato is a highly decorated decorated and inspiring military US Air Force veteran, accomplished entrepreneur and children’s book author.  As a sought after speaker of innovation and entrepreneurialism at universities, events, webinars and conferences, she now shares her expertise and knowledge across the globe.

Aviation career

Daughter of Mexican immigrants, after graduating as a distinguished student from Berkeley University of California, she joined the Air Force, achieving her Undergraduate Navigator Training in Sacramento. The only female in her class, she graduated in the top 15 percent of 25 students.

 

Women of Aviation Week

Graciela Tiscareno-Sato and her parents at her commissioning

Her Air Force deployments included Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, Hawaii, Okinawa and Japan, clocking over 1,000 flying hours across her ten years in the military.

Her key Air Force achievements included enforcing the No Fly Zone after Operation Desert Storm, which earned her a high status Air Medal award while protecting Iraqi civilians. Graciela was one of only a handful of women in Vicenza, Italy serving on the NATO Battlestaff. She also led a team of technicians to deter narcotics activities in Ecuador for the US Embassy. She was then promoted to wing contingency planning officer, after working as an instructor and navigator.

For her achievements, she was awarded the title of Woman Military Veteran Leader Champion of Change in March 2014 from The White House.

Entrepreneur

Ms. Tiscareño-Sato is not just a highly-decorated military veteran but also an accomplished entrepreneur. After obtaining her a Master’s in International Management from Whitworth University in Washington DC, she founded Gracefully Global Group, a publishing firm that specializes in marketing communications.

Graciela Tiscareno-Sato with her awarded children's book

Graciela Tiscareno-Sato with her awarded children’s book

She’s been honored with LATINA Style Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award and the National Business Women’s Week Award from the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation.

Graciela plays a key role in hosting the annual Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit each year at Stanford University, mentoring students to improve their levels of education and developing their careers. She is a bilingual STEM consultant for K-college educators serving diverse student populations.

Her book, Latinnovating: Green American Jobs and the Latinos Creating Them, has won five awards. This book emphasises the entrepreneurialism and innovation of Latinos in the rise of a sustainable, green economy. She’s also been published globally, featuring in Hispanic MBA, Environmental Leader, the New York Times, LATINA Style and the Huffington Post.

Children’s books

As a fluent speaker of both English and Spanish, Graciela has also published a bilingual bestselling children’s book called Good Night Captain Mama/Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá, which will be part of a series. This is the first of its kind in explaining to children why women serve in the military.

Graciela Tiscareno-Sato

Graciela and her son, who inspired the script for her book.

Graciela explains her inspiration: “The night before Veterans Day in 2009, my three year-old son and I had a bedtime conversation that my husband recorded because it was the first time our little man was seeing me in uniform. I was preparing to visit his preschool the following morning.”

“Immediately after our conversation, I wrote the first draft of what has become the first book in a bilingual, aviation travel adventure series, Good Night Captain Mama/ Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá.”

The book has won four awards including the “Best Educational Children’s Book – Bilingual” at the International Latino Book Awards in 2014. Her second book, a part of a series, will be released this year.

Graciela and her husband were blessed with three children, including a Braille-literate daughter with dual-sensory impairments. As such, Graciela is a forceful education advocate for children with special needs and other children who face low expectations.