This Veterans Day, as we honor those who have served our country, it's a fitting time to consider how veterans can make particularly good business owners. The traits they learn while in service can translate well to the business arena. This is good news for former service members, who wish to become veteran entrepreneurs, and for business owners fortunate enough to hire them.
“One of the greatest challenges for service members is transitioning into the private sector when their military service is done,” says Jon Loew, CEO and founder of KeepTree, the operators of TroopTree, a free private video-messaging platform for deployed military personnel and their loved ones.
“Veterans make great business owners, because the discipline the military has instilled in them, along with their relative calmness under fire, prepares them for the life of an entrepreneur,” says Loew. “Being able to adapt and overcome daily, dynamic challenges greatly improves the likelihood of success as a business owner.”
—Jon Loew, founder, KeepTree
Joseph Kernan, retired US Navy Vice Admiral and chairman of NS2 Serves, a nonprofit that trains and provides employment opportunities to veterans, agrees. “In the military, leadership is continually fostered until it becomes an ingrained attribute. [Service members] also undergo rigorous training programs to become experts in a wide range of skills and concepts that are applicable in a civilian work environment. Being able to adapt to changing situations is imperative to mission success in the military and, when transferred to the workplace, it ensures a highly successful [business owner].”
Programs and Organizations for Veteran Entrepreneurs
The amount of support for training veterans to reenter the job market and for those who wish to take the initiative and run their own companies continues to grow, notes Dennis Haley, co-author of The Leader's Compass and owner of Academy Leadership, a leadership training organization.
“The Veterans Administration has numerous programs and resources to assist veterans who want to be successful business owners,” says Haley.
The following resources can offer further assistance for veterans who own businesses.
National Veteran Owned Business Association: Dedicated to creating opportunities for veteran-owned businesses, this organization offers a variety of assistance at the state, local and federal level. Assistance includes training and mentorship and information on how to obtain federal government contracts.
Heroes Linked: This organization connects veterans (and spouses) with private-sector mentors, who help guide them through the transition process, provide guidance and help them translate their military skills into business success.
SCORE/Veteran Fast Launch Initiative: This program offers veterans and their families mentoring aimed at teaching them to start and succeed in opening and running their own businesses. The SCORE Foundation works in partnership with major corporations to provide these mentoring services, which include a free software and services package.
U.S. Small Business Association: The SBA has extensive resources for veteran business owners. Veterans can get help on everything they require to open and maintain a healthy business, including creating a business plan, hiring employees and employee benefits. They also have Veteran Business Outreach centers throughout the country. And their Boots to Business two-step entrepreneurial training program offers a solid foundation in building a business.
V-Wise: Created for women veterans, this organization offers a wide variety of tools designed to teach what it takes to build and maintain a business. The educational training programs are taught by accomplished business owners.
American Corporate Partners: This nonprofit connects veterans to a wide variety of business leaders, who are there to mentor and give business-building advice as veterans ease into the civilian workforce.
Vetrepreneur Mentoring: This service is designed for veterans who are interested in starting their own Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned business. The mentoring services guide veteran entrepreneurs through the entire process, including enabling them to qualify for state and federal government contract opportunities.
Bunker Labs: A national not-for-profit organization created by military veteran entrepreneurs, this organization seeks to empower military veterans in leadership innovation. There are local chapters throughout the U.S. where veterans can experience educational programming, mentoring and networking that is designed to help them grow their businesses.
Honor, Courage, Commitment, Inc.: Founded by a veteran, who owns and operates his own business, this organization offers a 12-week entrepreneurial program for veterans. Participants in the course learn how to run their own businesses, and also develop a network of peers and learn from mentors.
Read more articles on leadership.