women veterans

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. 

Hello Alice

Say ‘Hello Alice’ to the platform that is opening doors for small businesses and new entrepreneurs

Every entrepreneur is familiar with the struggle of getting started. A new idea takes hold of you and you start making big plans and getting goals, only to find that many doors are closed to you or you lack vital resources. This is what Hello Alice is working to change. Co-founded in 2017 by Elizabeth Gore and Carolyn Rodz, Hello Alice is a free multi-channel platform powered by machine learning, to guide business owners by providing access to funding, networks, and services.

Embracing failure on the path to entrepreneurship

Carolyn Rodz, CEO and Co-founder of Hello Alice (photo courtesy Carolyn Rodz)

CEO and co-founder, Carolyn Rodz, knows first hand what it’s like to struggle with a first-time venture. After a long career in investment banking, she make the decision to transition into entrepreneurship. She describes it as a “long, hard, expensive” transition.

“Hello Alice is what I wish I had when I started by first business 15 years ago,” says Carolyn.

Her first venture was a failed company, and she learned a lot from it. She embraces the failure because it taught her how to do better the next time. It also drove her passion for helping small businesses grow and achieve success.

“I’ve made so many mistakes,” she says. “In hindsight, I wish I would have been more transparent about being small, and asking for help. With my first business I always tried to act like a much bigger company than I was, and I’m convinced people could see right through me. If I had just sold the upside of working with a small, nimble company, I probably would have gotten so much further, and received much more support along the way.”

Carolyn’s second business venture was a success which she eventually sold. It was after this second venture that she felt doors finally started to open for her.

“With Hello Alice, our goal is to open those doors on Day 1 to put all entrepreneurs on an equal footing, giving them the knowledge, opportunities, and connections they need to thrive,” says Carolyn.

Hello Alice offers a unique experience by striping down barriers to access, but also keep the personalized experience that happens in closed, offline networks. The platform is a game changer for all entrepreneurs but especially those just getting started.

How Hello Alice is opening doors for all entrepreneurs

Hello Alice believes in business for all — by providing access to all owners, especially women, people of color, military-connected, the LGBTQ+ community, and persons with disabilities. Hello Alice exists to serve every American with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Hello Alice

“Our goal has always been to give every entrepreneur access to the resources they need to forge their own path, regardless of who they know or where they come from,” says Carolyn. “I think the fact that it’s so personal to me, and to all on our team for a variety of reasons, helps us keep the small business owners we serve front and center. It also keeps our team aligned and helps us act quickly — if we’re helping owners, we know we’re on the right path.”

Through a network of more than 200,000 owners in all 50 states and across the globe, Hello Alice is building the largest community of business owners in the country while tracking data and trends to increase owner success rate. Hello Alice has partnered with enterprise business services, government agencies, and institutions looking to serve small and medium business owners to ensure increased revenues and to provide the best possible experience for owners who want to start or grow their companies.

Carolyn at Hello Alice annual Circular Summit, a two day female focused entrepreneur event where 350 women & investors gather to network & learn. (Photo courtesy Carolyn Rodz)

Hello Alice’s machine learning provides crucial data to help each business with it’s individual needs. The platform provides a pathway for all entrepreneurs — prioritizing the needs of women, minorities, veterans, and other underrepresented business owners — to help them find knowledge, funding, networks, and services that will push their business to the next level.

“We do this by learning both who the business owner is, and the type of company they lead. These data points personalize the owner experience, but those aggregate trends also guide the broader small business ecosystem to funnel resources where they’re most needed,” explains Carolyn. “Companies utilize this aggregate data set to guide their sales, marketing and diversity goals, and to discover new, and better, ways to engage their target prospects, with the goal of creating lifelong loyal customers.”

Hello Alice is changing the game for entrepreneurs across the globe. Never before has it been so easy to access resources, funding, and networks.

“Mission matters”

The mission behind Hello Alice has always been on helping small businesses grow. Funding is no doubt of one of the most crucial and often needed aspects of launching a business. Recently, Hello Alice awarded 152 small businesses with life emergency grants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My most treasured experience so far has been notifying each grant recipient via a surprise Zoom call from the Hello Alice team. Some of these videos really got emotional!” says Carolyn. “We are most proud to say that 96% of recipients identify as part of the New Majority of small business owners. We went through 6 rounds of grants with 152 owners receiving funds. This pushes me to work even harder because I know the immense impact we are having on small businesses. You can read about each grant recipient here.”

You might be interested: Gov. Phil Murphy announces $100 million CARES Act funding for NJ small businesses affected by COVID-19

Hello Alice is all about helping fellow entrepreneurs get started on their path so we at Latinas In Business asked Carolyn for some words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners.

Her first word of advice is, “Mission matters.” Having a solid and clear mission is key. “Hello Alice is the most mission-driven business I’ve ever led, and it’s the one company where there’s never been any confusion over why we do what we do. Our team has always been in lockstep when it comes to meeting our owners’ needs, and it builds an internal alignment that allows us to move quickly and make fast decisions. It also taught me the value of going big. We were going to grow fast or fail fast, but either way, I knew that with this company I was going to put it all on the table. Luckily, we grew fast, but the experience taught me that you can’t hesitate as an entrepreneur. We prioritize action because the small business owners we support need what we are building, and it taught me that no matter what business you’re in, there is no replacement for learning through implementation.”

Carolyn and Circular Summit attendees bonding on “adventure tracks” prior to the event (Photo courtesy Carolyn Rodz)

Second, “Follow your instincts. People will give you their opinions at every turn — some are worth listening to, and some are worth ignoring. The value you add as a leader is figuring out which are which. At the end of the day, you have to feel comfortable with the decisions you made for your business, and if you did what you thought was best at every turn, working in the input and feedback and all of the opinions of the smartest and most equipped people you can find, then at least you know you tried your best.”

Finally, Carolyn shares one of her favorite quotes to live by: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough” –Mae West

“I look at life as a journey to be lived fully. It takes the fear of failure away, and life becomes more about taking risks, trying new things, meeting interesting people, and the experiences that we create for ourselves and those around us. It pushes me to go bigger in everything I do, and to live in the moment. We’re a tiny spec in the game of life, but we each have the potential to do something meaningful.”

resources for women

COVID-19 NY Resources for minority and women small businesses with Wendy Garcia

COVID-19: Resources for Minority, Women and other Small Businesses and Q&A Session hosted by Latinas in Business Inc.  Please register here:

Latinas in Business will host a Virtual Meeting, COVID-19: NY Resources for Minority and Women Small Businesses (Public and Private), on April 22, 2020 at 1pm EST to share financial assistance and other resources from federal, state, and City government, and the private sector.

Covid-19 resources for minority

Wendy Garcia, Chief Diversity Officer of the NYC Office of the Comptroller

The guest speaker will include Wendy Garcia, Chief Diversity Officer from the Office of the New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, will provide information on resources for minority, women, and all small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The Virtual Meeting is free to attend but participants must register to receive meeting information. Attendance is limited.

Please register here:

As Chief Diversity Officer, Wendy Garcia is responsible for increasing contracting opportunities for Women- and Minority-owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) and managing the Comptroller Office’s internal supplier diversity initiative, as well as other diversity related projects across all bureaus of the agency. Ms. Garcia also leads the Comptroller’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth through Diversity and Inclusion – a group comprised of national, local, corporate, and government experts seeking to increase supplier diversity in the public and private sectors.

The Comptroller’s Office of Diversity Initiatives, led by Ms. Garcia, releases “Making the Grade: New York City Agency Report Card on Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises,” a report that examines how well City agencies meet existing supplier diversity goals while outlining additional measures that could be taken to increase the participation of MWBEs in City contracting.

Previously, Ms. Garcia served as the Deputy Chief Diversity Officer at the Office of New York City Comptroller, Director of Community Outreach and Partnerships at the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), Deputy Director of the Manhattan Borough President’s Northern Manhattan Office, and Immigrant Research Analyst for the Rockefeller Foundation through Baruch College.

Please register here:

You might be interested: Beyond COVID-19: Prepare your entrepreneur skills for the survival of the fittest