81% of people say that their work contribution is valuable and makes a difference. This is good news for the majority of veterans who say it’s difficult to find a sense of purpose after serving in the military. While veterans make great employees, it’s becoming a business owner where veterans really excel. So what are the best businesses for veterans and how do you get started?
- Find your niche
As a veteran you’ll have many skills. These will include good communication, excellent organization, a strong work ethic, the ability to follow instructions, and a good problem solver. The key to finding your business niche is to assess all of your skills, as well as your knowledge and passions, and put them into one business. Veterans tend to make good IT analysts, life coaches, personal trainers, electricians, and landscape designers, among others. Once you’ve chosen your field, narrow it down so you have a unique niche. For example, your personal training business could be specifically for military personnel in rehab or you could provide life coaching sessions solely to individuals with PTSD.
- Consider costs
Shopify reports that businesses typically spend $40,000 during their first year in operation. To ensure you’re financially prepared, consider all your costs, including startup costs, certification fees, insurance charges, and daily running costs. As a veteran, you’re likely to qualify for different financial benefits that will help cover your business expenses. A VA loan can help you secure a home that you can run your business from. The VA loan process for a property involves a preliminary application, pre-approval notice, realtor selection, offer submission, and closing. The VA loan is officially finalized on the closing date of your house purchase. Other benefits that can help your new business include set-aside contracts and surplus personal property benefits. Taking out a small business loan is another option. Many providers offer loans just for veterans. Your best option is to speak to veteran financial providers rather than traditional financial institutions. This is because they tend to have more favorable terms and products designed especially for your needs.
- Best business opportunities
More than 2.5 million businesses are owned by veterans, according to Empire Resume. Some of the most popular businesses veterans take on are franchises. These are ready-made established businesses. One of the biggest benefits of them is that discounts are offered by business owners to veterans. They do this because veterans have great success with franchises. Figures show that one in seven franchises are currently run by veterans. There are also a lot of opportunities to work as a contractor for the government. 3% of government services in the U.S. are contracted out to veterans. So, if you have the skills and the interest to work in IT, network security, or logistics, this could be perfect for you. Another popular business idea for veterans is to start a security company. 8 in 10 people have trust in the military which means you’ll be a popular choice when it comes to hiring a security guard.
- Take up training courses
Training is an important part of all businesses as it keeps your skills and knowledge up to date. It can also teach you new things and processes which can make your business smoother and more successful. As a veteran business owner you’re lucky to qualify for multiple training programs that other entrepreneurs have to pay large sums of money for. The Small Business Administration runs the Boots To Business course with the aim of educating veterans about launching and running a business. There’s also Patriot Boot Camp’s (PBC) free Technology Entrepreneurship Training which is ideal for veterans with businesses in technology. Another option is VetToCEO Inc’s free virtual training courses. These courses help with business planning, funding options, and collaborating with other veterans, among other things.
- Get certified
Fortunly reports that 21.5% of small businesses fail in their first year. Veteran-owned businesses are a lot less likely to fail, especially if you manage to get veteran-owned business certification. The biggest benefit in getting certified is that it allows you to gain more business. The government, for example, sets aside certain contracts specifically for veteran-owned businesses. You can bid on these contracts if you have the veteran-owned business certification. Meanwhile, around 15% of businesses in Fortune’s 1000 List say they aim to give more work to veteran-owned businesses with this certification. Make sure you remember to renew your certification every three years to get the best business opportunities.
- Utilize support
The great thing about the veteran community is that they support their own no matter what. Running a business will be an entirely new experience for you and you’ll need support when things get tough. Connecting with other veteran entrepreneurs is ideal at times like this as they’ll be able to share their tips and tricks with you. They’ll also help you see that the things you’re going through are a normal part of running a business. There are some great veteran entrepreneurship groups on social media that you can join. Use these to chat with others. As your relationships develop, you can support each other in person.
Starting a business as a veteran can be a fun and rewarding achievement. To make a real success of your new business venture, be sure to carefully consider your business idea and how you’ll fund it before officially launching it.