3 Advantages Vets Have for Starting Their Own Businesses

Travis Barnes, founder/co-owner of Hotel Tango Distillery (Photo courtesy of Hotel Tango). 1200x800
Travis Barnes, founder/co-owner of Hotel Tango Distillery (Photo courtesy of Hotel Tango).

Transitioning from the military to the civilian world is tricky. Even with online military occupational specialty translators, an increase in veteran preferences in hiring, and an all-time low veteran unemployment rate, transitioning is just plain tough.

A study by the Institute of Veterans and Military Families found that the reasons vets become entrepreneurs include "a desire for independence, flexibility, financial security, and dissatisfaction with the civilian workforce."

Here are three of the biggest advantages vets have:

Related: Search for Veteran Jobs

1. Veterans Preference from Customers

In addition to state and federal government contract preferences for veteran-owned businesses, the general public is much more likely to buy or choose services from a veteran-owned business (VOB) than their civilian counterparts.

The National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) commissioned research that found "95 percent of Americans feel a sense of gratitude to the brave women and men who've volunteered to serve our nation in uniform."

This gratitude is good news for veterans, as it translates to greater consumer confidence and patronage for VOBs.

2. Business Grants, Funding and Training

One of the greatest hurdles to starting any business is funding. Thankfully, there are a growing number of funding options that help veterans find the capital they need.

  • Department of Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation Self Employment Grants.

Veterans must first be enrolled in the VA's Vocational Rehab and Employment program. Vets then meet with counselors who help determine the level of benefits they are eligible for, depending on their service-connected disability.

According to the VA's website, veterans designated Category I have the most severe service-connected disabilities and self-employment is considered a viable option. Category II is designated for veterans with serious employment challenges but whose disabilities are not considered severe.

Funding can be used for any necessary business-related expense, including equipment purchases, supplies, training and certifications, and other fees. Funds do not have to be repaid.

For more information, visit the VA's Vocational Rehabilitation website.

  • Small Business Administration Loans. According to the SBA website, "under the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act of 2015, upfront guaranty fees on SBA Express Loans are waived for members of the veteran and small-business community, including military spouses."

Veterans also have access to the SBA's Lender Match, a free service that matches veterans with SBA-approved lenders. The approval process for lenders is stringent, so veterans can be assured that each lender on the list is a safe choice.

Visit the SBA's Veteran-Owned Business site for more information.

In a previous article, 3 Ways Veterans Can Get Free Business Training, Military.com covered business training resources for veterans looking to start their own companies and be their own boss. Some of those free training resources include: SBA's Boots to Business program, Patriot Boot Camp, and VetToCEO.

3. Veterans Are Ideal Entrepreneurs

A report by the Small Business Administration found that veterans are twice as likely to start their own business as their civilian counterparts. This trend toward business ownership is a natural progression for vets looking to leverage their leadership and grit to forge their own path to success.

Indeed, another report by the Institute of Veterans and Military Families found that "veterans are well equipped to be successful entrepreneurs, possessing many of the skills found in entrepreneurs, including a propensity for risk-taking. Reasons veterans want to become entrepreneurs include a desire to be creative, regain a sense of service, tackle a challenge, work with a team, and apply learned and developed skills."

-- Sean Mclain Brown can be reached at sean.brown@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @seanmclainbrown.

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