For active duty military members and veterans looking to transition into entrepreneurship, one online program that really stands out is Vet To CEO. Veteran entrepreneurs designed and facilitate the program. The online content makes the program easily accessible. No matter where in the country you live.
The mission and vision of the program
The Vet to CEO was created by and for military veterans. The executive director of the program is Monty Heath, a U.S. Navy SEAL who served in Operation Enduring Freedom. The program itself launched in June 2012 at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The slogan of the program is, “Same Team. New Mission.”
Here’s just one example of why such a program is different from other entrepreneurship programs:
You will notice how creating a classic business plan is very similar to a military operations plan. Moreover, there is an emphasis on understanding how military skills are very relevant for starting your own business.
The structure of the program
When the Vet to CEO program first launched in 2012, it consisted of 10-week online courses. Since then, there have been several slight tweaks to the program. The format of the program in 2016 consisted of 7 online sessions. Led and facilitated by veteran entrepreneurs. And 7 self-paced modules for learning more about key business concepts, such as cash flow and business financing.
In addition, the program includes a number of guest speakers who appear during the 7 online sessions. Each of these sessions lasts for approximately two hours each (typically from 7:00-9:00 EST). And includes plenty of opportunities for interactions with both the instructors and other fellow students.
These guest speakers are almost always veteran entrepreneurs. They can provide practical, day-to-day examples of what certain business concepts actually mean to new entrepreneurs.
An active Facebook community
One other feature of the program that really stands out is the strong Facebook community. The goal, of course, is to get veterans talking to each other, and sharing their own insights. Most of the collaboration takes place via Facebook, making it a true interactive online environment.
However, the program does not insist on Facebook. It’s really more of an optional add-on to meet some of your classmates. Since there’s no physical, face-to-face interaction, it’s important to be able to communicate and interact in other ways.
Content of the program
The focus of the program is on transitioning to entrepreneurial life. A huge focus is on learning important business concepts needed to launch a successful new business. Thus, it’s not really a mini-MBA course as much as it is a mini-crash course on launching your own business.
One major emphasis, for example, is on coming up with your own business plan. In order to have a successful business, you will need to give careful thought to key factors like the overall market size, the role of certain competitors, and how you plan to market your products to others.
To make that process as easy as possible, participants get a business plan template that they can later customize for their own needs.
One other important question that the Vet to CEO program tries to address is how to finance your business. The program will review different sources of funding, and then encourage participants to think creatively about how to bootstrap their business with the barest minimum in financial resources.
FREE of charge to all veterans
The Vet to CEO program is structured as a 501(c)(3) organization. This means it can operate as a nonprofit charity. In addition, it also means that upon acceptance, the program is free.
Interactive online environment
One goal of the program is to get veterans talking amongst themselves, forming the kind of supportive ecosystem that’s fundamental to a thriving entrepreneurial sector. As a result, every aspect of the program seems to have an interactive component.
For example, during the 7 online sessions, you’re not just listening to a lecture – you can interact with the instructor and you can also chat with participants in real-time. Then, during the self-paced modules, you can also interact with fellow participants, mostly using Facebook. In fact, Vet to CEO describes Facebook as a “collaborative tool” that will really help to build out your network. Interaction with other veterans online is beneficial.
Some face-to-face interaction possible
The Vet to CEO is structured as a fully online program. However, there do exist some opportunities for face-to-interaction. Their website says that face-to-face courses can be organized “at select locations upon request.” If, for example, a group of veterans in the same city happen to be living near a military base where some instructors are, it might be possible to get a face-to-face course.
Remember, the Vet to CEO program is designed exclusively for military veterans. It is not a recycled course from a local business school. Instead, it’s designed around the skills and experiences that you’ve already picked up in the military. And, since there’s no cap on the number of participants in any online program, you don’t have to worry about a super-competitive application process.
As long as you have the basic idea for what kind of business you would like to start, Vet to CEO can help to make it a reality. Along the way, you’ll meet plenty of other military veterans who are experiencing the same things you are as they transition into entrepreneurial careers.