Veterans Business Outreach Center Program
Veterans Business Outreach Center Program
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a program designed to support veterans who want to start or grow their small businesses. The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) program offers business training, counseling, and referrals to other resources that benefit veteran entrepreneurs. Through a cooperative agreement between the SBA and 22 other organizations, transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses can start and grow their businesses.
The military community will benefit from workshops, training, counseling and mentorship opportunities. Additionally, VBOCs guide military entrepreneurs through a vast network of community resources and lenders.
Veterans Business Outreach Center Resources
Transition Assistance Programs
If you’re close to separating from the military, and you already know you want to start your own business, then there is a VBOC program that you need to know about.
Through a program called Boots to Business, VBOCs offer classes to transitioning service members and military spouses. They also have a B2B Reboot class for veterans, which is just an off installation version of Boots to Business.
Pre-Business Plan Workshops
VBOCs host entrepreneurial workshops that cover issues of self-employment. Many veterans who start their own businesses don’t always understand the full scope of that process. There’s more to business than selling a product or service, and these workshops close that knowledge gap.
The best part about this program is that each participant will work directly with a business counselor.
So, you have an idea, but you don’t know if it’s business worthy. After applying what you’ve learned in previous workshops, VBOCs assist you in assessing the entrepreneurial concept to identify any needs and requirements necessary for you to succeed.
Business Plan Preparation
Developing a business plan is difficult, but it is the road map to your business’ success. Your local VBOC program will help you develop a five-year business plan.
This planning stage will cover the legal formation of your business, organizational structure, market analysis, and equipment requirements. Financial planning is also fundamental to the plan, and you will learn about financial projections, funding requirements, and budget projections.
A thorough feasibility analysis can help discover the strengths and weaknesses of your business plan. This step will help develop or refine the strategic planning portion of the business plan.
Entrepreneurial Training & Counseling
The VBOC connects military entrepreneurs to training and counseling sessions that address the specific needs of the veteran business owner. These include service-disabled and women veterans, as well as those veteran entrepreneurs interested in procurement.
Having help from someone who knows what’s going on is a valuable resource. A VBOC mentor can periodically check on your operation to ensure you’re following the business plan. Additionally, they can review monthly financial statements to see if your plan needs to be adjusted.
Other VBOC Programs
Beyond the great offerings above, VBOCs offer training and assistance in arenas like international trade, accounting, and franchising.
The Small Business Administration has an entire office dedicated to veteran-owned businesses. It’s called the Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD). This SBA resource connects you with funding resources and government contracting programs. Military spouses will also find resources at the OVBD.
Local VBOC & Next Steps
Your first task is to get connected to the resources that are available to you as a veteran or military spouse. To connect to a VBOC in your area, enter your zip code to find your nearest program. There are currently nine regions nationwide that manage the Veterans Business Outreach Center programs.
Next, exhaust every training, counseling, and mentorship opportunity. The success or failure of your entrepreneurial dreams could be determined by what you learn in the VBOC program.
About the author
Robert Haynes is a retired Army infantryman who has a squad of kids and is married to an active duty Soldier. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, who spent his last few years in the Army as a Drill Sergeant. He is now a full-time dad, freelance writer, and out-of-work comedian.