[July 2013] The Department of Veterans Affairs’s program, VA Accelerator, has recently formed a partnership with ACP in an effort to encourage vocational success for their mutual constituents—Veterans of the U.S. military.
The VA Accelerator program educates qualified Veterans in self-employment and employment through a blended learning environment at no cost. ACP’s comprehensive Mentoring Program provides Veterans with a one-on-one yearlong Corporate Mentor in a career field of interest for the purpose of networking, career development and discovery.
Qualified Veterans will move from the VA Accelerator program, where they will learn a variety of self-employment and employment skills, to the ACP program, where a mentor helps apply these skills as their protégé starts a business or otherwise enters the civilian workforce.
“ACP will prove a natural partner to the VA Accelerator. Many Veterans feel overwhelmed after they’ve transitioned out of the military when they’re told that they need additional skills in order to find civilian work. Both ACP’s Mentoring Program and VA Accelerator’s self-employment education program work to combat the stress of transitioning by dealing with the underlying issues of the demographic – specifically their needs for further education and one-on-one aid,” says Phillip Selleh, project manager for the VA Accelerator.
Thus far, the VA Accelerator program has been launched nationwide and Veterans from across the country are enjoying the courses. Many students, from all over the United States, have gone on to create business plans, and ultimately, businesses with the aid of the program.
One such entrepreneur is Noah Currier, a Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, who sought self-employment as he opened a military-style apparel company called Oscar Mike.
“Sometimes when you think you thought of everything and you have a rough draft or a plan in your mind or on paper, it’s great to have a program like the VA Accelerator to help you to fill in those things that you were really missing,” says Currier.
Likewise, ACP’s Veteran Mentoring Program has helped many Veterans fulfill their vocational goals, receiving rave reviews in the process.
One such Veteran, Laura K. of the U.S. Army, wrote the following in regards to her mentor from IBM: “When serving in the military, it is not a matter of ‘if’ you will transition out but rather ‘when.’ I think so many of my peers and fellow soldiers struggle in the transition because they lack the knowledge that [my mentor] Stacy so graciously shared with me. I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to have been matched up with Stacy.”
Another offered through American Corporate Partners is ACP AdvisorNet, an online community of Veterans and business professionals sharing career guidance and transition advice through an easy-to-use Q&A forum. Here Veterans can ask questions about preparing for an interview, starting a business, going back to school or résumé building and receive answers from experienced business leaders.
ACP’s Mentoring Program, which a limited number of openings available, only caters to those who have served on active duty since 9/11 are eligible to participate.
Starting a business can be difficult, yet extremely rewarding. Minimizing the unknowns in the startup process can improve the success rate of any small business. A thorough education in entrepreneurship and quality leadership from an experienced mentor can make all the difference. VA Accelerator together with SCORE – mentors to America’s small businesses – is ready to help more Veteran-Owned small businesses succeed than ever before. VA Accelerator’s Business Accelerator trains disabled Veterans, in the skill sets required to successfully plan, operate, and grow businesses. The training is meant as a preliminary for entrepreneurial Veterans to discover whether they want to pursue entrepreneurship or for new small business owners who’d like to learn how to more effectively run their businesses’ operations. As the Veteran works through his or her business plans, the VA Accelerator’s educational program matches them to a local SCORE mentor, who is there for the life of the business and can advise on many topics or secure the help needed. SCORE is a network of 12,000+ volunteer mentors in 340+ chapters nationwide who assist entrepreneurs in making the best business decisions possible. These entrepreneurs work with highly skilled mentors, from a variety of industries, who confidentially help new entrepreneurs and small business owners deal with difficult business problems and make good business decisions. With many options for finding and maintaining contact with a fitting mentor, SCORE guides small businesses across the country to bright and prosperous futures.
Together, the education provided by the VA Accelerator and the opportunities and incentives offered by the IFA and VetFran can open doors for many Veteran-entrepreneurs to start and grow a franchise suitable to their interests. The IFA is a valuable resource for VA Accelerator graduates, many of whom would like to pursue entrepreneurship through franchising post-graduation. The two programs share a commitment to helping Veterans succeed in their career endeavors as the VA Accelerator is a Department of Veterans Affairs initiative to educate Veterans on entrepreneurship and the IFA has an entire program dedicated to Veteran franchisees. The IFA initiative is called “VetFran.” VetFran includes over 530 IFA franchisor member companies offering financial incentives, training and mentoring to veterans interested in small business ownership and/or a career path in franchising. Over 6,300 veterans have become franchise owners through VetFran since its launch in 1991. Veterans who have utilized the VetFran program understand that the military skill set translates well to entrepreneurship, thus the program encourages this natural career transition. Entrepreneurial Veterans are encouraged to pursue franchising opportunities that interest them and the VA Business Accelerator curriculum teaches the vital business skills for entrepreneurs such as starting, leading, managing, hiring, and sales. VetFran’s partnerships and resources along with the VA Accelerator’s targeted education can help Veterans who wish to open a business franchise succeed.