In the pile of challenges veterans face in transitioning to civilian life, finding purpose and direction in a new career path ranks near the top. Military jobs are clearer. There’s an established and unquestionable chain of command. Advancement generally comes from aptitude, with pay grades fixed by rank. What needs to be done, how it needs to be accomplished and when it needs to be finished also tends to be well-defined. Civilian life, especially the nuances of the civilian workplace, can look like a quagmire compared to the cut-and-dry fact-based vocations found in our military. This is partly why so many veterans leave the military and start their own businesses.
A veteran-owned business is one that already has a leg up on its competition. You might not understand why at first, but think about the training the average service person goes through. Beyond basic training or boot camp, every member of our military is expected to attend a specific technical school to train them to do their jobs. Then there’s the ongoing on-the-job training. Additionally, don’t forget our service people have specific physical benchmarks they’re expected to hit and maintain. It takes discipline and self-control for a sailor in the US Navy to plank for the minimum of 3 minutes daily that Vice Admiral John Nowell recommends in order to maintain their fitness level for their Physical Readiness Test. That discipline and self-control coupled with the expectation of being the best they can possibly be translates into successful business ownership handily. Don’t count out the value of military experience, either.
You probably know the Small Business Administration is on hand to help all small business owners succeed. However, did you know there’s a veteran-owned business-specific government organization that provides counseling, mentoring and training to help vets conquer the business world? VETbiz.va.gov doesn’t stop there, though. They verify veteran-owned businesses, assist in the acquisition of government contracts, host events designed to help veterans land new business opportunities and provide communication resources for veteran-owned businesses to talk to one another. Local community colleges have small business assistance programs, too.
Again, the Small Business Administration exists to help you here, too. Small business loans are readily available to all future owners, but veterans have a literal advantage. Check out the Veterans Advantage program the SBA has. If a veteran has less than perfect credit, their military status tends to get them the benefit of the doubt with credit unions and local community banks.
A veteran-owned business can find itself at the top of the heap with careful guidance from the military veteran turned business owner.