Start Your Post-Military Career With a Small Business

Veterans of the US military make some of the most effective business leaders with their training in achieving goals through discipline and determination. Veteran-owned small businesses employ more than five million Americans representing over 2.5 million businesses. Whether you were active duty or reserves, if you’ve left the military and are looking to become one of these business owners, read on for a couple of tips to help you get started

Play to Your Strengths

If you’re not sure what kind of business you’d like to start, play to your strengths. While you can certainly focus on a passion project from your private life, consider taking your military skill set into the private sector. If you’ve been in a leadership position you may consider project management or consulting. If you were in the tech sector look at programming or repair. Once you’ve got a focus in mind start doing your research. Learn about the industry through both research and speaking to people working there now. See if there are common pain points for which you might be able to solve. Do some market research with online survey tools. Collate all of the data you collect to help inform your veteran owned business plan.

Plan Your Business

Now that you have a business in mind it’s time to pull all those tools together to create your business plan. You will need to describe your company, include the market research you’ve done, your mission statement, core values and your leadership team. Even if you decide to open a franchised business, you’ll need to work with the franchiser to develop your plan. Make sure you have your personal finances in order and available for lenders to review.

Leverage Special Veteran Opportunities

Make the dream of your veteran owned business a reality with the help of the Small Business Administration. Their Office of Veterans Business Development is there to help you plan your business and get the best loans. After you’ve started your business their ongoing business development is there to make sure your venture succeeds. They offer special Veteran Advantage 7(a) loans, but even without that specific loan, your veteran status will help you secure financing even with less than stellar credit. There’s also a Boots to Business program providing free training for service members transitioning into the civilian world who want to start businesses. Check in with your local Small Business Development Center for other grants and opportunities to increase your business skills for free.

Like any small business, you have to jump through all the hurdles and put in the hours but being a veteran comes with distinct advantages for planning and financing your dream.