Many of the skills and personal qualities that are acquired from military service, such as patience, drive, perseverance, sacrifice, problem solving, and handling adversity, are all well-suited for becoming a successful entrepreneur.
You may have little or no business experience, but that should not dissuade you from considering an entrepreneurial option to employment. If you have the right combination of skills, some great ideas, and the necessary drive to be an entrepreneur, you should consider working for yourself. Approximately 4.5 million veterans currently own their own businesses, which represents nearly 18 percent of all businesses in the United States. Many veterans become successful entrepreneurs.
Although the majority of business start-ups fail within the first five years, for those that try again, over 80% are successful. There are a wealth of resources offered by government agencies and nonprofit organizations – most focused on training, counseling, and finance – to assist veterans in establishing their own business. These programs and services can significantly increase the probability of success among veteran entrepreneurs.
The following websites and programs are designed specifically for entrepreneurial veterans:
The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) offers cutting edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans with disabilities resulting from their military service. The EBV is designed to open the door to business ownership for veterans by 1) developing skills in the many steps and activities associated with launching and growing a small business, and by 2) helping them leverage programs and services for veterans and people with disabilities in a way that furthers their entrepreneurial success.
You can take self-assessments to determine if your abilities and skills are entrepreneurial. The Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Assessment are two of the tools for assessing career interests. Both of these tools are accessible through the military’s transition assistance program.
If you decide to go into business for yourself, make sure you choose the right business for your particular skills, abilities, motivation, and interests. Visit the Small Business Administration (SBA) website for information on all aspects of starting your own business. Also visit the SBA website’s section on free online courses for starting a business.
An online course that is highly recommended by the SBA is titled “Starting My Own Business: Entrepreneurial Education” and is presented by MyOwnBusiness.org.
One way to go into business for yourself is to purchase the rights to use a franchise and become a franchisee. Many military veterans have become successful franchisees for a variety of reasons, but mainly because they work hard and follow the rules. In fact, a franchise is a business model whose rules and procedures have been trademarked so that others can invest in the franchise and provide that same product or service again and again.
When choosing a franchise, make sure you have an interest in and aptitude for the service or product being offered through the franchise, and that you understand and will carefully follow ALL of the franchise rules.
Read the article Quick Tips on Transitioning to a Franchise for resources and information about choosing the right franchise for you. If you are considering a franchise opportunity, I encourage you to connect on Linkedin.com with other owners of that franchise to get their opinion and insights.
The International Franchise Association (IFA) has a program called VetFran that offers financial incentives to veterans seeking to become franchise small-business owners. Learn more about the program at www.vetfran.com.
If you receive a disability rating of from 0 to 100 by the Department of Veterans Affairs upon leaving the service, you can apply to have your business certified as a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). This designation enables your business to be awarded federal contracts on a sole-source basis if certain conditions are met. For more information about SDVOSBs, visit the Contracting section of the SBA website.
If you think owning your own business is right for you, be sure to use the many resources mentioned above to assist you in your venture. The hard work, dedication, and numerous other skills you exhibited in the military will serve you well in turning your entrepreneurial dream into a successful veteran-owned business.
Quick Tips on Transitioning to a Franchise