The skills that veterans learn while serving the nation transfer well into the business world. If you’re a veteran who’s been thinking about going into business, there are plenty of resources to help you test out your ideas and get started.
More than 300,000 veterans faced unemployment in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A small business can serve as an outlet where veterans can leverage their unique skills. Also, another veteran-owned business means another organization that’s more likely to hire a former soldier.
The following are seven tips for veterans looking to start a business in 2020.
1. Claim Your Status – You've Earned It!
The Veterans Administration supports several resources. You can access many of those resources through the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSBBU) website. There, you can find out highly beneficial facts, such as information about economic opportunity programs and how to register as a certified veteran-owned business.
The VA spends $3 billion a year with businesses owned by veterans. After registering as a certified veteran-owned business, you’ll gain access to many VA contracts.
2. Translate Your Military Skill Into a Business
Some industries are particularly suited for skills learned while serving in the military. For instance, you may have expertise in areas such as:
• Information technology
This kind of expertise can represent a great business opportunity for some veterans. Ex-military personnel often have technical knowledge that is not common in civilian circles.
3. Take Advantage of the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal
Former soldiers can visit the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal (VEP) to access federal services. The portal provides information for every step required to launch your own business.
For instance, the “Start a Business” tool will guide you through identifying the resources to help you meet your business goals, and the “Access Financing” wizard will help you find financial resources to support your operation.
4. Connect With the SBA Office of Veterans Business Development
The Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) works to increase veterans’ access to small business programs. The agency recognizes that service-disabled veterans face challenges when returning to civilian life.
As an entrepreneur, many veterans find a new purpose and use their experience as enlisted personnel to provide valuable services. You can continue your service to the nation by launching a business.
You can reach the OVBD main office by calling (202) 205-6773 to find out more information.
5. Learn the Basics From the SBA
Veterans can learn the fundamentals of business by visiting the Small Business Administration’s 10 Steps to Starting Your Business guide. There, you can learn about essentials such as business planning, financial decision-making and legal compliance.
Using the guide, you can evaluate whether your business idea is viable by learning how to conduct market research. It can also guide you through the process of developing an effective business plan. If you need further assistance, you can connect with local volunteer business consultants.
6. Acquire New Business Through the Veterans Contracting Program
The Vets First Contracting Program is another initiative sponsored by the VA to support small businesses owned by veterans. You can find out more about the program by visiting its fact page or calling MyVA311 at (844) 698-2311.
If you meet the criteria for the program, you'll qualify for Veteran-Owned Service-Disabled (VOSD) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) funds explicitly earmarked for spending with veteran-owned companies.
Such enterprises are eligible to subcontract for large, primary federal contractors. Through the program, the VA ensures that VOSD businesses and SDVOSB receive credit for subcontract plan achievements. They also ensure the validity of VOSD and SDVOSB entities and ensure that primary federal contractors issue set aside credits as agreed.
7. Find an Experienced Mentor
The Service Corps of Retired Executives – now known as SCORE – is the largest volunteer business consulting network in the United States. SCORE volunteers are available to help you in a variety of ways.
You can partner with SCORE for free, confidential mentoring at one of 300 locations in the United States or via email, phone or video-conference. The CORE website features learning on-demand where you can learn essential aspects of starting and operating an enterprise.
Veterans are 45% more likely to become successful entrepreneurs compared to civilians, according to the SBA. In the military, you most likely learned many skills that can help you run a business successfully. For some veterans, entrepreneurialism may serve as an ideal solution for integrating back into civilian life.
As a soldier, you learned how to take risks when it's necessary to achieve your objectives. You’ll find that experience equips you to stay focused and succeed in a fast-paced and competitive business world.
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