Over 400,000 companies comprising 7.5 percent of all small businesses in the US are owned and operated by American veterans. It’s not a far-off possibility. After years in service, many veterans either go back to school and choose a career path while others opt to venture into business and become their own boss.
First, you may ask: “How can I even get things started when I don’t know anything about business?”
A problem of knowledge
For a serviceperson whose work expertise rests in defending the nation, it is understandable that you have little to no knowledge about the industry, except for when you’ve been exposed to it previously via training or having come from a family of business owners.
The government understands this and has established programs that can help veterans rev up the engine by providing trainings in business planning, conducting feasibility studies, and finding you a good mentor for the industry you choose to settle in.
These programs are offered in select facilities throughout the country, the Veterans Business Outreach Center. The SBA also offers assistance in helping veterans bridge the gap between military and entrepreneurship.
The Office of the Veterans Affairs, via the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, also provides educational resources that can assist you in many aspects of business preparation including obtaining financing. They can also assist you with getting certified as a veteran-owned business and finding contracts you can start bidding on.
Where to get funding?
So now that you have learned the basics of getting your business up – the rest always comes with experience – the next hurdle that you will be faced with is finding the money to fund your startup. Good news! Although it is typically harder to get financing for businesses, there are actually many alternative sources you can explore. Small business loans and P2P lenders are the most common. Unconventional ways of obtaining funding such as via grants or by crowdfunding is another. You may also seek help from military credit unions or banks. Learn more about alternative funding sources here.
If you really think about it, military training may have incidentally prepared our service men and women for the entrepreneurial work. They are already skilled at proper resource and risk management, in the first place. When channeled right, these skills can jive well in both worlds and can easily help the veteran transition to their new industry of choice. And so much for categorizing. Veteran businessmen and women don’t stop serving their country when they continue supporting the nation’s economy.