What Vets Should Know Before Starting a Small Business

Retired Tech. Sgt. Alfredo Sibucao Jr. flips the open sign to his retail store in Las Vegas.
Retired Tech. Sgt. Alfredo Sibucao Jr. flips the open sign to his retail store in Las Vegas, June 22, 2015. (Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika/U.S. Air Force photo)

Veterans and most successful entrepreneurs have a lot in common. Both groups have discipline, organization, responsibility, leadership skills and determination. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs are veterans such as Dave Thomas, founder and CEO of Wendy's, and Malcolm Forbes, publisher of Forbes magazine. If an ambitious veteran has a great business idea, then it may be time for him to start his own small business.

Are You Ready?

Before veterans commit to entrepreneurship, there are a few questions the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends they ask themselves:

  • Am I a self-starter? It will be the entrepreneur -- and only the entrepreneur -- who will develop a product, follow through with details and prioritize time.
  • How well do I get along with different personalities? Everyone is different. A business owner has to deal with a cranky receptionist, a demanding client, pushy lawyers, rude bankers, etc. Having a successful business hinges on the ability to handle problematic employees and clients.
  • Do you have the physical and emotional stamina to run a business? Veterans have completed the most grueling obstacle courses in boot camp and might have gone through worse while deployed. But business ownership is very demanding. It's possible to work six-, seven- or 12-hour workdays every week.
  • How well do you plan and organize? Poor planning is responsible for most business failures, according to the SBA. Good organization of finances, inventory and schedules may help a first-time business owner avoid many pitfalls.
  • Is your drive strong enough? Running a business may feel like an emotional burden. Some entrepreneurs burn out early. Strong motivation will prevent burnout and slowdowns.
  • How will this affect my family? The first few years of new business can be difficult for family life. Talk with family members, tell them what to expect and ask for their support. What's more, there may also be financial difficulties until the business becomes profitable. That may take months or even years.

The Reasons Why

Next, create a list of reasons for starting a small business. Are you doing this because you're tired of working for someone else? Or do you have a passion to bring a new product or service to your community? A few reasons for starting a business are:

  • Wanting to be your own boss
  • Financial independence
  • Creative freedom
  • Applying military skills and knowledge to a career

Financial Resources

Starting a business is challenging and might be a financial strain. But there are several programs and loans -- provided through the SBA -- to help a first-time entrepreneur get a small business off the ground. What's more, veterans are also eligible for certain loans such as the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative (VetFran), which allows military veterans the opportunity to own a franchise business.

The small-business world has its fair share of ups and downs, but if veterans remain determined and passionate about their business, nothing can stand in their way.

Want to Know More About the Military?

Be sure to get the latest news about the U.S. military, as well as critical info about how to join and all the benefits of service. Subscribe to Military.com and receive customized updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Story Continues
Veteran Jobs