The terminology of the modern business world can sometimes seem packed with hyperbole. For a Starbucks barista, running out of chai might equate to a “logistical nightmare.” A Staples manager, meanwhile, might consider ordering the wrong size of copy paper a “supply chain disaster.”
Are those situations inconvenient? Sure. Catastrophic? No, probably not.
For servicemembers, however, supply chain errors or logistical miscalculations can have profound consequences. And that can put lives – not just livelihoods – at risk.
As a result, military personnel and veterans have a deep understanding of logistical imperative. And that’s just one reason why servicemembers have the potential to make a successful transition to a civilian career in business. Added to that are the personal qualities that military service fosters – leadership, discipline, perseverance and loyalty, for example – as well as the ability of servicemembers to produce quality work as part of a team or individually.
Finally, servicemembers must be able to shift seamlessly between the short- and long-term view – an invaluable attribute for aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs.
In the franchise industry, veterans and servicemembers already are acknowledged as having the skills and knowledge required to become successful business people. VetFran, a business initiative administered by the International Franchise Association (IFA) in conjunction with the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, among other agencies, offers financial incentives, mentoring and training to veterans as they transition into civilian entrepreneurship.
According to VetFran, nearly 70,000 franchise businesses in the United States are owned by veterans, representing a total payroll of more than 800,000 and in excess of $41 billion in gross domestic product.
Vetfran’s Operation Enduring Opportunity, meanwhile, aims to recruit 75,000 veterans and their spouses plus 5,000 wounded warriors as franchise restaurant owners by 2014.
Resources Available for Servicemembers
In 2012, the Small Business Administration (SBA) launched its Boots to Business program, which aims to make entrepreneurial training and resources available to servicemembers transitioning to civilian life. Citing Census Bureau data, the SBA said almost 2.5 million businesses are owned by veterans, representing about 9% of all firms nationwide. Those veteran-owned companies employ an estimated 5.8 million workers.
Another SBA program, Patriot Express, provides low-interest loans of up to $500,000 for veterans and other military members, while the agency’s Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (MREIDL) provides loans of up to $2 million to help small businesses compensate for the loss of an employee to active military duty.
Like all entrepreneurs, servicemembers must weigh the costs and benefits associated with a franchise opportunity before making a commitment. However, in an economic environment that remains challenging, franchising can be an attractive option for transitioning military members. According to a 2012 survey by Franchise Business Review, veteran franchisees had average annual profits of $64,000.
As the survey concluded, “Hundreds of franchise brands offer special discounts and incentives to prospective franchisees with military experience, making it an excellent time for veterans to consider a franchise opportunity. Franchise brands recognize the significant strengths and related skills that veterans can bring to a business—especially a franchising business, which is built around systems, teamwork, and following a step-by-step protocol.”