A new program at William & Mary’s Raymond A Mason School of Business is taking a boot camp-style approach to help veterans become entrepreneurs.
The Military Times reports the William and Mary Veterans Entrepreneurship Scholars Program was launched earlier this summer with a pilot enabled by an anonymous alumni gift.
The program aims to teach veterans how to start and run their own businesses as the number of entrepreneurs has skyrocketed since the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. An Intuit QuickBooks study shows more than 17 million new entrepreneurs joined the economy in 2022, and veteran-owned businesses are rising.
“In recent years, we’ve seen entrepreneurial thinking skills, mindsets, and practices to be
increasingly essential no matter what role our veterans take on,” Graham Henshaw, the
Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center executive director, said in a release. “This hands-on, real-world program delivers a distilled, applied experience that equips these leaders to tackle
challenges of consequence more effectively.”
Jonathan Due, the executive director of the Center for Military Transition at William & Mary, said getting veterans into entrepreneurship can lead them down different paths, including starting a business as a primary means of income or as a second revenue stream.
Charles Williamson, an Army veteran seeking his M.B.A. at William & Mary, was a part of the pilot program as he and a friend are developing a game that teaches tactical skills. Williamson said the program has shown him how much planning and execution go into a successful business.
“The military is great at teaching you to deal with setbacks and challenges but not really the actual specific skills like meeting with investors or incorporating a business,” Williamson told the Times. “They teach you how to do an interview, not how to raise capital. But through the program, I learned a lot of things that I needed to learn.”
Notable veteran-owned Black businesses include Air Force Veteran Charlynda Scales’ Mutt Sauce; Marvin Johnson, a former Navy Submarine Officer and the founder and CEO of Dashible, and Tabatha Turman, an Army veteran and the CEO of IFAS-LLC, a professional services firm.
The first official class of the program began in November, and the school plans to keep the classes small so each group can collaborate and provide peer support. The program is also working on creating an active support system for follow-up after veterans graduate from the program.