By Cooper Nelson
Veterans represent about 7% of the adult American population, and they are twice as likely to own a business as the average civilian. In fact, approximately 6% of businesses in America are veteran-owned, accounting for about $948 billion in annual sales, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Of veterans who start their own companies, nearly 63% rely on personal funding or family savings. This use of family funding for veteran-owned businesses raises the stakes for success.
But securing funding isn’t the only step to owning a business. There are plenty of things veterans can and should do when it comes to successfully sustaining their business ventures.
One of the first steps veterans can take toward successful business ownership is obtaining a business degree. Whether you’re a veteran looking to start a business or simply improve your company’s performance, a business degree is designed to help you succeed and grow in the business world.
After deciding to pursue a civilian education, you’ll need to decide which type of business degree is right for you. Consider your industry, your financial needs and your strengths. For example, you might opt for a Bachelor of Science in Management degree if you’re looking to improve leadership, management or implementation skills. Or you might consider a Bachelor of Science in Business degree program — especially if it offers an operations management certificate option.
To further enhance your knowledge in the business sector, consider obtaining a Master of Business Administration (MBA). You’ll develop skills that inform critical business decisions, including communication, marketing, data analysis and decision-making.
A variety of resources can make a business degree more attainable for veterans. Veteran education benefits can help cover tuition expenses and other costs associated with education. Various other military and veteran educational benefits offer opportunities for federal aid for qualifying students.
After you complete your business education, you’re ready to start your own veteran-led business. Between legal steps, fees, paperwork and other requirements, starting your own business can feel difficult at first. However, the process itself is fairly straightforward.
Reference the following steps to start your own business:
Starting a new business can take time. It’s important to remain patient as you complete the above steps, even if the process itself takes longer than you wish it would.
Veteran-owned businesses are prevalent across a wide variety of industries. In particular, you’ll find many veteran-owned businesses in real estate, finance, transportation, mining and construction markets.
Not all veteran-owned companies are small businesses, though. Many of the larger businesses you regularly depend on may be veteran-owned. For example, FedEx was founded by Frederick Smith, who served four years in the Marine Corps. Similarly, brothers Bud and Sam Walton — who founded Walmart — served in the Navy and the Army, respectively.
Military veteran and University of Phoenix alumnus Jake Clark put his education to work helping other veterans. Learn more about his organization, Save A Warrior™.
During active service, veterans depend on a large skill set. When veterans start businesses, they can use many of these same skills to inform successful business operations and to inspire fellow employees toward improved performance.
The following military skills can benefit business owners:
These and other military-taught skills can have a profound impact on your business.
As a veteran, you can benefit from a variety of programs that make starting a business easier. These programs often provide funding, resources, networking channels, mental health support and other benefits that assist you as you build your business. Consult a Student Services representative for more information on some of the programs available to you.
One program — the Veterans Crisis Line — provides 24/7 support for any veterans who might be suffering from suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Since its inception in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has fielded more than 5.6 million calls from veterans in need, in addition to the hundreds of thousands of text messages and 660,000 chats.
Give an Hour® also provides mental health support for veterans and their families through confidential counseling options designed to accommodate busy schedules. Active duty, National Guard and Reserve veterans all qualify for free mental health assistance through Give an Hour.
Some veterans might be ready to work on some specific skills to improve their business. American Corporate Partners (ACP) works directly with veterans by providing personalized mentorship. More than 20,000 veterans have benefited from the one-on-one relationships with mentors who can help servicemen and servicewomen enhance their professional career.
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