Honoring Military Veterans and Business Startups
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While we pause this time of year to honor and celebrate the brave women and men who have served our great nation as part of the military, it is important to understand that securing employment or other revenue-generating opportunities becomes an important part of their re-entry into civilian life. We are thankful for the many employers who make it part of their business’s mission to employ veterans.
During their service, veterans may have learned skills that could be transferred to starting a business. This option is usually overlooked, but it is one that veterans should be aware of. The following is from U.S. Veterans Magazine: “According to the American census, veterans own 7.5% of 5.4 million businesses. The reason is simple: the military teaches skills most business owners have to learn the hard way like self-sufficiency, leadership, and the ability to perform under pressure. If you’ve already got those skills, you’ve got some of what it takes to run a successful business.”
FedEx, Sport Clips, Sperry, RE/MAX, Walmart, GoDaddy, Nike, Amway, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car are businesses started by military veterans. While these businesses are highly visible nationally and internationally, most veteran startups are smaller, employing fewer than five employees. However, their impact is significant. 2021 U.S. Census Bureau data reveals that veteran-owned businesses had sales of over $925 billion, 3.6 million employees, and over $176 million in payroll. In Indiana, as of 2022 there are 46,785 veteran-owned businesses.
Many business services and loan and grant programs are specifically for military veterans. As a department in the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Office of Veterans Business Development’s mission statement includes the following: “to provide veterans, service members, National Guard and Reserve members, military spouses, and family members with programs and services to start grow, and expand their small businesses.” On June 6, 2023, the U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation to support veteran entrepreneurship through the Boots to Business program known as the Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Act of 2023. There are also regional and local business resources available to veterans.
The regional office for the East Central Indiana Small Business Development Center (SBDC), located in the Muncie Innovation Connector, serves 11 counties with FREE business startup services, which includes working with veterans. The SBDC provides private coaching services, start-your-own-business workshops, capital and funding assistance, and more. The Innovation Connector serves veterans with one-on-one business coaching, cash-flow projections and analysis, finance management, and assistance locating needed capital. Just like the SBDC, the Innovation Connector’s services are provided at no charge for military veterans.
Other organizations that serve the veteran business community include V-Wise (Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship), Hivers & Strivers (an angel investment group for veterans), Indiana Veteran Owned Small Business program, and many others. Needless to say, there are abundant resources to help veterans at any step on the business startup journey.
One way that all Americans can support veteran-owned businesses is to purchase their goods and services. Not only does this honor and validate their service to our country, but the revenue also allows these businesses to pay employees, provides a living for the veteran owner, and provides ongoing sustainability needed for the future.
November is recognized as National Veterans and Military Families Month. Let’s be mindful to thank veterans for their service – possibly even buying their meals, paying for their car’s next fuel stop and supporting veteran-owned businesses. The United States has been protected, and we enjoy our freedoms here because of their service, sacrifice and love of our country. Let November 2023 be a reminder that we need to celebrate our veterans, not just for one month a year, but all year long.
To everyone who has served, thank you.