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Top Tips for Veterans Looking to Start a Small Business

Top Tips for Veterans Looking to Start a Small Business

Veterans are widely regarded as some of the most heroic people on Earth, having put their lives on the line and worked hard to defend their country, ready to risk it all in foreign lands for the safety and protection of those back home.

When these members of the military leave the service and return home, they deserve a warm and hospitable welcome, but many veterans find that the return to civilian life can be a difficult one, with hundreds of thousands of them dealing with unemployment every year.

Still, the skills that veterans learn while serving often transfer well into the world of business, and many veterans have the drive, determination, and sense of perseverance that can help them succeed in running their own companies.

Plus, there are all kinds of aids and resources out there that are specially designed to aid veterans with entering the world of work and starting their own companies too. So if you’re a veteran and want to launch your own business, here are a few tips to get you started.

Do Your Research

The first tip we can provide for veterans looking to start a small business is to carry out research online in order to find out as much as you possibly can about the right steps to follow, the right people to contact, and the many aids and benefits that you might be entitled to. You might be surprised to learn that there are many programs and initiatives that exist purely to help veterans in the world of work.

From the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program that offers education and training for unemployed veterans to the economy opportunity programs offered via the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, there are plenty of people and services out there just waiting to give you a hand.

Consider Converting Your Military Skills into Your New Business

It makes a lot of sense to start a small business based on something that you already know a lot about or have a passion for. This is something that comes up a lot when people talk about starting small businesses, and many experts encourage new business creators to focus on industries and areas that they have some sort of connection to, so you may want to consider using your military past in some way to drive the creation of your new small business.

For example, businesses in fields like aerospace, defense, security, weaponry, or information technology might all be connected to tasks and duties you held during service in the military, giving you an instant hard-start and giving your brand some built-in credibility too. You may have lots of knowledge that civilians simply don’t have, so consider using this to your advantage.

Don’t Feel Limited by Your Past

Even though it can be a wise move to build your small business around the skills and knowledge picked up during your military years, you still shouldn’t feel forced into that kind of work if it’s not what you want to do. There are plenty of veterans out there who would prefer to leave the military life behind upon returning home, so you should feel free to start your business based around whatever you like.

The key is to try and find something that you really care about. You don’t necessarily have to be a leading expert in your field right away, but if you have true passion and interest in the products you sell or the services you provide, you can get yourself off to a great start, and we’ve seen plenty of veteran-owned and operated businesses in all kinds of fields, from coffee companies to cruelty-free hand care products.

Make the Most of All Resources

Another good tip that applies particularly for veterans who are starting up a new small business is to truly make the most of all the resources that are available. As stated earlier on, veterans can access a range of exclusive benefits, portals, and resources online and around the US that are designed to help them, so don’t ignore these valuable resources as you search for success.

Connect with the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal, for example, to access federal services in support of veterans. This portal is filled with tools, guides, tutorials, and aids to help you get started with your new business, helping with everything from finding additional resources to getting the financial aid you need to buy equipment and find a work space.

Consider Sharing Your Story

Many veterans have stories to tell of their past lives in the military, and if you’re happy to share your own story with prospective partners, customers, and clients, it could be of benefit to your business. A lot of people respect and admire veterans and are eager to work with them in some way, either partnering with their brands or buying their products.

If you share your story when talking about your company in presentations and on your own brand website, you may be able to attract like-minded people, join forces with other veteran businesses, or encourage other veterans to apply for jobs with your particular brand.

Find Yourself a Mentor

Starting a new business isn’t easy. In fact, it can be a huge challenge, and unfortunately, a lot of small businesses fail early on as the pressures get to their owners and the initial plans and projects begin to break down. It can feel quite overwhelming, therefore, to even start the business in the first place, and many new owners worry about what they might be doing wrong.

It can help to have a friendly, experienced shoulder to rely on during those early weeks and months, so you may want to consider getting yourself a mentor. The Service Corps of Retired Executives is a volunteer consulting network, with countless experienced mentors ready, willing, and able to help you out, answer your questions, and share the benefits of their years in the business world with you.

Final Word

Studies show that veterans are more than 40% more likely to be successful in the business world than civilians, so the odds are certainly in your favor if you choose to start a new business, but you’ll still need to put in plenty of hard work. Keep these tips in mind and drive your brand to success.

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by Harvey Carr // Harvey Carr is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.