There's Good News on the Horizon for Struggling Veteran Businesses

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Reserve sailors from Navy Operational Support Center Phoenix form a flag detail during a Veterans Day ceremony in Phoenix. (Courtesy photo/Josh Snider)

From Wall Street to Main Street and everywhere in between, businesses are suffering from the economic fallout of pandemic-related shutdowns and restrictions. Many of the 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses in the U.S. are feeling the pinch -- which is bad news for the overall economy.

Veteran-owned businesses employ more than 5 million Americans and pour more than $1 trillion into the U.S. economy. As of June 2020, 39% of these businesses had been forced to shut down, according to Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF).

But there is good news: America wants to support its veterans, and consumers are willing to show their dedication to veterans through their wallets.

A study from Skynova, a small business invoicing efficiency platform, shows that consumers are increasingly using their purchases to voice their opinions. The study interviewed 1,100 people about their values, spending habits and how the two intertwine in their lives. What it found was that 3 out of 4 consumers make a conscious effort to shop at the places that best share their values, no matter what those values may be.

More importantly, 88% of consumers are willing to spend more patronizing those businesses just to support them. This is good news for veteran small-business owners. According to the annual Gallup poll of the most-trusted institutions in the country, the U.S. military and small-business owners top the list.

Some 39% of Americans have prioritized shopping at small businesses. Around 20% of Americans say businesses that support the military-veteran community are the most important places for them to shop -- the most important category that supports a group of people.

Other important values for buyers are socially-conscious considerations, such as COVID-19 safety, fair pay and benefits, and whether products are made in the USA. Americans also value the usual considerations in their purchases, including the ease of buying, variety of choice and available discounts.

When economic stability returns, veteran-owned businesses can rest assured that American consumers will be ready to support them on the road to recovery.

For veteran entrepreneurs who are struggling in the wake of the pandemic, the IVMF lays out general recommendations to help get them through this last stretch.

The first recommendation is that they reconnect with entrepreneurship service providers, such as Small Business Development Centers, Coalition for Veteran Owned Business, Bunker Labs or even their own Veterans EDGE.

For advice, assistance and support, don't forget to tap into your networks, be they veteran or civilian. Talk to your mentor if you have one. And veterans service organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion may be able to point people in the direction of national or local resources.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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