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Meeting Veterans’ Needs with Continuous Learning      

I’ve been fortunate in my career to be able to work with and for veterans, developing blended learning programs in entrepreneurship. On this Veterans’ Day, I’d like to walk you through an educational model that we’ve found can support veterans make the transition from military service to entrepreneurship through effective learning design. One of the hallmarks of this design is that there are multiple points of entry and the engagement doesn’t end with the completion of a business plan like most programs do.

Prepare Your Audience

We know that many of the traits associated with entrepreneurship are characteristics shared by the vast majority of veterans. Both are:

  1. Good risk takers

  2. Results-driven

  3. Able to persevere through challenging circumstances

So, many veterans will come to entrepreneurship naturally, and many will come “pre-loaded” with some of the traits that can help drive their success as business owners. There are others who may need support in exploring their career options prior to transitioning out of the service, or perhaps after the fact.

So a model program in entrepreneurship designed for veterans should include readiness assessments and preliminary modules defining the entrepreneurial process. These topics are ideal for a blend of presentation and scenario-style learning and can be offered online, taken as needed for those vetrepreneurs just starting out.

Address Knowledge and Skills Gaps

Once having decided on business ownership as their career option, veterans need to fill certain knowledge gaps and develop a specific skill set to ensure success. On the top of this list are tasks such as:

  1. Researching the market

  2. Marketing your business

  3. Financial planning

  4. Exploring the legal forms of business ownership

Working on an investor presentation and creating financial models are probably the most challenging tasks a new business owner needs to engage in. Facilitated instruction in real time in these areas can help your veteran audience connect the dots more easily and encourage questions and discussions to enhance the learning experience. Webinars are a great format for this and can be recorded for those who miss the session or want to review it later on. Guest speakers consisting of practicing experts can expand the circle of expertise.

Form an Online Community Consisting of Existing Business Owners, Investors and New Entrepreneurs

In order to ensure continuous learning, all the learning modules, resource material and access to experts and should be accessible through a single platform. From the time the vetrepreneur begins the journey and as he or she succeeds in one or more businesses, this is the place to come to access the support and tools to help build the business. As one veteran becomes a success, he can then mentor others on their journeys.  This can take continuous learning to a whole other dimension.

If you’re interested in such a program for veterans, please visit my friends at VetToCEO. Their next program starts January 20, 2015.

For more on how effective learning design can make true social impact, see us at Designs2Learn.


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