If you invest in a veteran-owned business, you can change their lives and yours. For decades, returning veterans had two viable options – settling for less or accepting whatever was out there in the job market. That left many military families unable to build savings or cover unexpected expenditures. Not good for mental and financial health.
But veterans and military spouses are a fast-rising group of dedicated entrepreneurs creating their own solutions by becoming small business owners and redefining their futures. They apply their hands-on military experience and training and the result is often a profitable, creative, well-run business.
You could probably call the genre ‘vetrepreneurs’: veterans leaving the military and starting a business of their own. Often, their spouse is right there beside them, or even leading the way. In her book Mission Entrepreneur, Jennifer Griswold dubs them ‘milpreneurs.’
Mark Rockefeller once called the US military “the best entrepreneurship training ground in America.” And for good reason: veterans are 45% more likely to start their own business, according to the US Small Business Administration.
Success requires vision and grit. You have to add intelligence and education blended with work ethic and passion. Veterans and military spouses have often faced challenges that would stop the average person right in their tracks. Some challenges carry through their whole lives, and we’ve all known ex-service members who adapted heroically. That is exactly why smart investors are all in for veteran-owned businesses.
Traditional businesses may gravitate toward traditional employees. Veterans are taught to be flexible. They embrace remote work styles, networking, and virtual businesses. They hire other veterans and are amenable to considering hiring non-traditional workers. That might include older workers, non-degreed employees, and physically challenged workers.
Military spouse and veteran-owned businesses come in every size and represent every business type from accounting agencies to zoo veterinarians.
Ex-service members are well-versed in concepts like budgets, cost control, innovation, discipline, and tenacity. They seek stability after a military career necessitating constantly changing and relocating.
After WWII and the Korean war, 40-49% of veterans used their GI benefits to fund their dreams. But the GI Bill no longer provides low-interest loans for start-ups. Recent economic issues make it tough for a start-up to find traditional funding.
And while almost all small businesses are struggling in the wake of the global pandemic, there are some common challenges that affect veterans in particular. According to current veteran entrepreneurs, three common challenges limit their business growth
There’s an interesting resource for business-minded veterans seeking capital, StreetShares.com. Created by two veterans, the startup offers financial solutions for veteran small business owners and their communities. Veteran-owned businesses can get loans at 2-4% lower interest rates than conventional financing offers. StreetShares’ network comprises more than 16,000 veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs.
Veterans and military spouses can also tap into free educational or mentoring resources
Veterans work together, supporting each other, their businesses, and their goals. As a society, we, too, owe them whatever we’re capable of doing to support them. If you’re an accredited investor, you can help our nation grow by investing in small businesses owned by veterans and military spouses. Many investors make a point of investing in veteran capital funds like TFX Capital, Stony Lonesome Group, and Moonshots Capital.
Crowdfunding sites like Kiva.org let users set a filter to find military family projects, and they have made a concerted effort to fund veteran-owned businesses.
Whether or not you’re looking for an investment, patronizing veteran-owned businesses makes sense. Business owners display Buy Veteran stickers on their front doors, and sites like VeteranOwnedBusiness.com show you veteran-owned businesses in your area.
There are plenty of opportunities to get on board and the impact of supporting veterans is significant. Veteran-owned businesses provide 5.03 million jobs. Annually, those businesses funnel $1.14 trillion into the US economy.
For veterans starting a business and succeeding impacts quality of life and economic stability. For investors, mentors, and patrons, supporting those businesses is a perfect way to say, “Thanks for your service.” Together, we could end up with a stronger nation and a stable economy.
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[Editors’ Note: To learn more about this and related topics, you may want to attend the following on-demand webinars (which you can listen to at your leisure and each includes a comprehensive customer PowerPoint about the topic):
This is an updated version of an article originally published on February 3, 2021. It has been updated by Maryan Pelland.]
©2022. DailyDACTM, LLC d/b/a/ Financial PoiseTM. This article is subject to the disclaimers found here.]
Mercedes is a business owner and the Executive Consultant with Rodan + Fields. In addition, she works in the field of behavior analysis for children with autism and their families, specializing in preschool-aged children. She also has her Masters in Science from the University of California at Davis.
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