SBDCs (Small Business Development Centers): provide assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the United States and its territories. Their services are free or very low cost. They are hosted by leading universities and state economic development agencies, and funded in part through a partnership with SBA. The SBDCs also have access to the SBDCnet information clearing house where you can get excellent market research information to help you assess your business idea and decide if it has potential to make a profit.
The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) Program is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and mentoring, and referrals for eligible veterans owning or considering starting a small business. The SBA has 15 organizations participating in this cooperative agreement and serving as Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC). Think of a VBOC as an SBDC for veterans only.
The Jonas Project can help you get your business started whether or not you attend classroom entrepreneurship programs. But if you do attend one of these or something similar, our Mentors will be able to guide you at a higher and faster level than if you have no knowledge of basic business ideas and terminology.
Educational programs differ from mentoring. They offer a standard curriculum of business topics using a programmed schedule. They are an excellent way to focus your learning and get a lot of information in a short amount of time (compared to a two year MBA program).
Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV and EBV-Families): This is a program from Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families. It is for veterans with a service-connected disability or family members of such veterans. The program is free if you are admitted. All expenses, including travel, are paid for by IVMF. Currently there are ten universities comprising a consortium where the EBV is offered. Those universities are listed on the EBV web site.
V-WISE (Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship): This is another program from IVMF. It is for female veterans and female partners or spouses of veterans.
National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program: This is an entrepreneurship program offered at four universities: University of Florida, Oklahoma State University, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, and the University of North Dakota.
Stanford Ignite Post-9/11 Veterans: This is an intensive 26-day summer program offered at an 86% discount for Post-9/11 veterans. The program is given by the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Bunker Labs: Bunker Labs offers a 12-week, one night per week curriculum designed to validate your business idea. They also offer their Bunker In A Box online curriculum for those who aren’t in a city with a Bunker Labs office.
Code Platoon: Code Platoon is a Chicago-based non-profit program exclusively for veterans. In their 20-week program (6 weeks remotely, 14 weeks in our Chicago classroom), they’ll teach you full-stack development and train you to be eligible for paid internships and full-time employment as a web developer. No previous programming experience is necessary. This program might be useful to veterans who want to start tech related businesses.
DVBA (Disabled Veterans Business Alliance): The DVBA is an association of veteran owned businesses (VOBs). They connect disabled VOBs with government agencies and commercial contractors looking to buy products and services. Think of them as a chamber of commerce for VOBs.
How do you turn an idea into action?
In the military you used an Op Order or Ops Plan to clarify your mission, your intent, and your planning. Clear, well-defined objectives were necessary. This is also necessary in business.
But if you’ve never written a business plan before you could get lost in the sauce of financial projections, market research, business model, and other considerations. You don’t know what you don’t know. So how do you start?
At The Jonas Project we used our Mentors’ entrepreneurial experience to write a simple Business Plan Kernel. This is the seed from which your business will grow. We also use a SWOT analysis to clearly identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Both of those require you to do some basic market research.
So our approach is do the Business Plan Kernel and SWOT using the Market Research Guide. It doesn’t matter which one you do first because they all connect to each other anyway. When you have done that work, put it in one document and send it to us through our online application. If you have questions while you are doing the work, write to us and our staff will help.
Our ultimate goal is to get you a Jonas Project Mentor who can help you launch the business.
As we said above, trying a full plan if you’ve never done this before can be confusing. But if you have a business degree or started a small business in the past, then you might be ready to jump right in.
Here is a Business Plan template based on a five-paragraph op order. Each op order section is mapped to a business plan component. When you read it you will see exactly what we mean.
This is a Marketing Plan template, also based on an op order.
When you’ve done these, send them to us through our online application.
The goal is the same: To get you a Jonas Project Mentor who can help you launch.