Women who have served in the military have already demonstrated courage, fortitude, and leadership. For many, a natural next step is to consider working as an entrepreneur, putting their considerable leadership and problem-solving skills to good use.
There are extensive resources to help support and guide female veterans who are pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities. Here are some of the more popular programs.
Impact of Women-Owned Businesses
Veterans own 2.5 million businesses in the United States, according to a report released in 2017 by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, or 5.1 percent of all U.S. companies. Collectively, veteran-owned businesses employ 5 million with a payroll of $195 billion and bring in $1.1 trillion in receipts annually. The study is based on a 2012 survey of U.S. business owners.
Among those veteran-owned businesses, women are owners of 383,000 companies, or 15.2 percent of all vet-owned firms. Those companies generate $19 billion in annual receipts and employ 103,000 people.
The number of women-owned businesses is projected to continue the meteoric growth it has seen in the past decade, according to the SBA. From 2007 to 2012, veteran women-owned businesses grew by 297 percent. This growth is expected to continue, due in part to the increasing number of women serving in the armed forces who will eventually transition to civilian or reservist life.
Here are a few of the programs and resources that can help propel a new career.
Association of Women’s Business Centers
This national nonprofit organization helps find entrepreneurial opportunities for women and advocates for economic justice for women in the workforce. It supports a nationwide network of more than 100 Women’s Business Centers that offer mentoring, training, business development, and small business funding options.
Boots to Business
This two-step SBA training program helps with entrepreneurial skills development. The program starts with a two-day classroom course and is followed by an eight-week online course, titled "Foundations of Entrepreneurship". The instructor-led online course teaches students about business plan elements and tips for starting a business.
National Women’s Business Council
The NWBC is a federal advisory council that provides advice and counsel to the SBA, president, and Congress about economic issues faced by women business owners.
Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) is a training program offered by Syracuse University institute designed specifically to help women vets with entrepreneurial and small business management questions. Funded in part by the SBA, V-WISE offers a three-phase process to allow women vets, and female military spouses or partners, to gain needed skills and ongoing insights:
- A 15-day online course
- A three-day entrepreneurship training program
- Ongoing mentoring, support, and training
In 2016, V-WISE added a new one-day program called V-WISE IGNITE offered in cities around the country. During the intensive program, would-be business owners learn about pathways to small business ownership, networking, and tips on the entrepreneurial lifestyle.
Veterans Business Outreach Center
These regionally located SBA-partner centers are designed to provide business training and counseling to veterans interested in starting or expanding a business. The 20 partner organizations offer pre-business-plan workshops, feasibility analysis, entrepreneurial training, and mentorship.
Women as Veterans Small Business Seminar
Sponsored by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the Women As Veterans (WAVE) Small Business Seminar, now in its seventh year, allows attendees to network with contractors to learn about mentoring, subcontracting, and business teaming. It also offers attendees strategies for how to conduct business with the federal government.
Delivering on Dreams
For women veterans, there are extraordinary resources that allow women to leap ahead in fulfilling their entrepreneurial aspirations. At Benetrends, we help women vets make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.
Benetrends has pioneered a small business funding strategy that leverages existing 401(k) and IRA funds to generate much-needed capital that helps women business owners finance start-up costs. To learn more about how Benetrends can accelerate small business ownership for women veterans, watch the webinar: How To Use Your Retirement Funds To Buy A Franchise Or Business.