Should You Start Your Own Business? – Opportunities for Disabled Veteran Entrepreneurs
If you’re a veteran transitioning to life after the military, it can be difficult to find the right opportunity and fit, especially one that puts your experience and skills to their best use. Perhaps you’ve looked at the work you did before the military, but it just doesn’t hold the appeal it once did, or you aren’t quite ready to commit to an employer after years of having your life structured for you. Many positions can’t mirror the unique blend of discipline and autonomy, not to mention the strong mission focus, that comes with military service. So, how do you find that “perfect” opportunity that gives you flexibility, autonomy, and a path forward that you define?
In their search for that right fit, many veterans turn to starting their own business. In fact, according to recently released data by the U.S. Census Bureau, over 2.5 million businesses were majority-owned by veterans in 2012. Together, these veteran businesses earned $1.14 trillion and employed over 5 million people! But is being a veteran entrepreneur right for you? Here are some reasons why it might be:
- Your ability to work as part of a team. Business is all about building and working with a team to accomplish a shared mission – exactly what you’ve learned to do so effectively. You understand the importance of placing the mission above the individual, but also know how to build relationships and support your teammates.
- You’re a problem solver and leader. A unique aspect of military service is the responsibility it gives to soldiers at all levels – whether it’s leading teams or serving in critical support roles, there is a level of trust and autonomy not often seen in civilian positions. In an operational environment, the unexpected often happens. You’ve had to exercise judgment, solve emerging issues, and take decisive action. These are invaluable skills for an entrepreneur.
- You don’t give up. There is a level of discipline and stubbornness entrepreneurs need to succeed. You’ve successfully overcome many challenges in your military walk. It wasn’t easy, but you found tenacity and commitment paid off.
- You see the big picture. You’ve worked with a wide variety of individuals and you’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. You’ve sacrificed your own preferences, comfort, even where you work and live for the larger mission. You “get” it in ways many others simply don’t when it comes to understanding how to get things done and what it takes to get there.
- Veterans have a competitive advantage. As a veteran-owned small business (VOSB), you qualify for preference in competing for government and other contracts. If you are a disabled veteran who earns a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) designation, your preference level can be higher. In addition to an annual government goal that no less than 3% of all prime and subcontract awards go to SDVOSBs, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has new procurement guidance giving top preference to a SDVOSB followed by a VOSB. Additionally, there is special support and funding for disabled veterans starting their own business including disabled veteran business grants.
So, how do you build your own unique business and claim your piece of the entrepreneurial pie? Here are 23 Great Resources for Veterans Starting a Business in 2017 to get you started. We have more resources on starting and funding your business here.