What would come to mind if someone asked you what the national brands of FedEx, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Nike and Sport Clips all had in common? It just happens that all of these brands were founded by veterans. You might be surprised to learn that veteran entrepreneurship is a powerful cog within the American economic machine. In fact, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and data gathered during the 2012 U.S. Census, veteran-owned businesses make up 9.1% of all U.S. businesses. Although veteran-owned businesses span virtually all industries, they tend to gravitate toward the construction, real estate and professional services industries.
For their service, veteran entrepreneurs are awarded many benefits such as exclusive federal contracting opportunities, entrepreneurial assistance programs, specific education, special financing and even additional benefits for their spouses. It’s never been a better time to start a business as a veteran. The opportunities are there for veteran entrepreneurs; let’s tackle why and how a veteran should consider entrepreneurship in a little more detail.
Why start a company as a veteran?
In a word? Opportunity. The numbers regarding federal contracting alone are staggering. In 2020, the federal government spent a record $5.6 trillion of its budget on federal contracts. Veteran-owned small businesses are eligible for a certification that affords them exclusive access to 3% of this allocation, totaling an astounding $168 billion. Holistically the numbers are also massive. Again according to the SBA, in 2012, veteran-owned businesses had receipts of $1.14 trillion.
Outside of the numbers, though, the benefits and resources for veterans start to stack up.
Resources for Veteran Entrepreneurs
Gainful employment and economic success of veterans is a noble, meaningful pursuit of the U.S. government. As such, veterans are provided a multitude of unique opportunities to help launch and optimize their businesses.
- Entrepreneurial Assistance Programs
Powered in partnership with the SBA and the Department of Defense’s Transition Assitance Program, Boots to Business (B2B) is a training program offered to military members and their spouses. B2B provides entrepreneurial education and training featuring an overview of business ownership and operation.
- Veteran Specific Education
Syracuse University provides education and training for veteran-owned business operators through its Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). The IMVF teaches veterans the basics of fundraising and optimizing a business’ capitalization table.
- Veteran Specific Incubator Opportunities
According to Entreprenuer.com, An incubator is designed to accelerate the growth and success of entrepreneurial ventures through an array of business support resources and services. Veteran-owned businesses are eligible for an exclusive incubator known as The Bunker offered by Bunker Labs.
- Exclusive Federal Contracting Opportunities
Covered above, small businesses owned and operated by veterans are presented with the opportunity to vie for exclusive, potentially lucrative federal contracts. To be eligible to receive these contracts, businesses must receive Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business certification.
- Veterans Help Veterans
Veterans are determined to help one another out. Thusly there are multiple programs run by veterans to assist veteran entrepreneurs. Examples of such programs are the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NAVOBA), which offers free membership for veterans and lists veteran-owned businesses in a marketplace, and the Coalition for Veteran-Owned Business, an advocacy group for veterans.
How to start a company as a veteran?
Outside of the resources provided, veterans must first accomplish a few tasks to start a company. Veterans must first take stock of their skills, interests, and competitive advantages to determine where they can provide the most value. Or, perhaps, veterans might notice a need or a pain point in their daily lives that they feel qualified to address.
From there, a veteran entrepreneur must start writing a business plan that defines the burgeoning business’s goals and the entrepreneur’s vision on how to achieve those goals. A thorough business plan will include an executive summary, company overview, a market analysis, an organization structure, and a product development and financial plan. After a business plan is written, it’s time for the entrepreneur to register their business and leverage the resources mentioned above, such as an incubator or an educational program.
Veterans are an essential piece of the national economy. They support one another, employ one another, and lead by example professionally by helming some of the largest brands in the world. Afforded resources to launch their businesses and exclusive opportunities, veterans can start dynamic companies merely by surfacing a business idea, writing a business plan, and putting it into action. When veteran-owned businesses thrive, the entire country benefits, and this notion is a phenomenon worth promoting.
Brad Anderson is the President of Federal Award Management Registration, a trusted, family-oriented business dedicated to assisting businesses in navigating the Federal Marketplace. FAMR’s mission is to efficiently and accurately guide dedicated businesses through the complex series of requirements and red tape the government requires for Federal Contracting, Registrations, and Certifications. Established in 2015, FAMR has assisted thousands of successful businesses over the hurdles placed before them in any of these processes. Brad is at the helm of this industry-leading business, adapting and growing every step of the way to ensure our clients succeed.