After fighting on the battle front, many brave veterans turn to the small business community to find success on the home front. Using the leadership and problem-solving skills they learned while serving our country, these veterans can fight for their own professional freedom through entrepreneurship. Not to mention, starting a small business is just one more way these veterans can serve their communities: In small business, they will create local jobs, give back to local causes and build a more vibrant, resilient local economy.
Still, the fight for small business success comes with its own set of challenges. For one thing, veterans may not feel comfortable setting out on their own after serving in the battlefield with a team. For another, they may need help navigating the legal and tax issues associated with starting a business. Veterans who want to build a successful small business will need the confidence to start something of their own, the funding to invest in it, a network of partners and experts to help grow it and the winning idea to give it life.
That’s where Business.com comes in. With a helpful database of resources for veteran-owned businesses, Business.com can guide veterans as they come up with a business idea, write a business plan, procure funding and build their network.
Generating Business Ideas
The armed forces have some of the best technology and training in the world. Anyone who has spent time in the military has likely learned skills and abilities that will be new to businesses and consumers. When it comes to starting a small business, veterans can draw on these skills to find the right service or product to provide to their customers. For instance, veterans have turned something as simple as the exercises they did at boot camp into thriving businesses.
Writing a Business Plan
"In preparing for battle," said General Dwight Eisenhower, "I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." It's the same in business.
Drafting a business plan helps the prospective business owner identify costs, revenue potential, goals and challenges.
Will the five-year revenue projections contained in the plan be correct? Almost certainly not. Like a thunderstorm changes a battle plan, a competitor's bankruptcy changes a business plan. Still, the act of planning gives you the big picture view you need to have the best chance of success. To create this roadmap to success, veterans can turn to Business.com’s resources for support.
Finding Funding and Your First Customers
Military veterans have a big advantage over their civilian counterparts when it comes to launching a business: Many investors and funding agencies are eager to support those who have served and specialize in funding veteran-owned businesses. There are also many veteran-focused networking and mentorship opportunities. Business.com’s database for veteran-owned businesses provides a breakdown of common funding sources for new businesses and resources for going after each type of funding.
The biggest advantage veterans have is in securing government contracts. The U.S. General Services Administration gives preference to veteran-owned businesses when awarding contracts. State governments may have similar programs.
Even veterans who aren't going after government contracts can capitalize on their military experience. Consumers and businesses may prefer to buy from a veteran-owned business, if they know. Small businesses often find success by telling their story to customers and the public. Doing so helps to humanize your business and help customers feel good about supporting it. Let your service branch flag fly!
Building a Network
While growing your business, it’s important to invest in yourself and others. Find the right training and networking resources through Business.com. Mentorship programs, workshops and similar resources can help you learn on the job and make new contacts in the field. Veterans can also turn to each other for support – as the veteran-owned business community grows, new veteran entrepreneurs can learn from the successes and failures of those ahead of them.
The most important thing for any potential veteran entrepreneur to know? You're not alone. There are dozens of resources for veteran business owners — a whole battalion of fellow veterans who've been down the business ownership road and will march alongside you. With these allies and resources, you can feel empowered to start your journey to career freedom today.