Small Business Week is April 30-May 4! The Small Business Administration (SBA) has been celebrating entrepreneurship during this designated week since 1963, to recognize “the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.” The SBA says that more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and these businesses create about two out of every three new jobs in the US each year.
Veterans with an entrepreneurial inclination can find lots of resources on the local, state, and federal level. Many community colleges include a Small Business Center (SBC) that help veterans learn more about how to start and run a small business successfully.
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) on the state and local level host programs specific to veterans’ needs. The statewide Colorado SBDC has been awarded a grant from the US SBA to “provide one-on-one business consulting and specialized training and programs for Colorado veterans and their families.”
Boots to Business is also a US SBA program that is offered on the local level through the Aurora SBDC. The SBA states that Boots to Business is “an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (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.”
For those veterans who prefer to work for a small business, perhaps while honing a trades skill, organizations such as the Home Depot Foundation just announced “a $50 million commitment to train 20,000 tradespeople over the next 10 years,” including a program just for veterans. With 158,000 unfilled construction sector jobs in the US today, the need is great for skilled workers.
The foundation launched a trades training program for separating military, partnering with nonprofit Home Builders Institute (HBI), last year. The pilot program was held at Ft. Stewart and Ft. Bragg and will now be rolled out at additional bases. Shannon Gerber, executive director of The Home Depot Foundation, says “We’re thrilled to train 20,000 next-generation plumbers, electricians, carpenters and beyond. It’s a true honor to welcome our first classes of separating soldiers as they transition to civilian life and into successful careers in the trades.”
Whether working for or owning a small business, opportunities abound for veterans to learn about entrepreneurship, about construction and other trades, and about making that transition from a military career to a civilian business.