Entrepreneurship is about being brave enough to take risks, and if there’s a group which knows a thing or two about that, it’s the brave veterans who served this nation. Men and women who have come home from the armed forces all too often go on to have extremely successful civilian careers. And this isn’t a coincidence. These individuals employ their discipline, work ethic, and a multitude of other skills they’ve learned in the military to become some of the most effective entrepreneurs imaginable. But like any individual trying to start a business, veterans might need a little bit of inspiration.
This article will attempt to explore the many business options available to veterans, and it will focus on those which might be especially well-suited to ex-military personnel. That being said, we can actually learn a lot from simply looking at the statistics. First of all, 7.5% of all businesses owned in the US are under the control of veterans. Furthermore, a huge portion of those businesses are centered around the construction industry, or providing professional and scientific services. It’s clear that veterans are a major cog in the economic powerhouse that is the United States.
If you think about it, veterans are actually perfect for taking on vital roles in any business. First and foremost, their leadership skills are fine-tuned from being in a highly structured chain of command. As a result of endless, grueling training, veterans are also extremely well-disciplined and determined individuals. Finally, veterans are used to high-stress situations, where making important, potentially life-threatening decisions is paramount.
Starting a small business is a great option to start things off, and who knows, maybe that small business will eventually grow into something much larger. Veterans might even find that their small business ends up contributing to their community in a meaningful way, even if it’s not quite as exciting as fighting for our freedom. The best thing about starting a small business is that it can turn into an enjoyable, fulfilling hobby. This endeavor can easily become a passion as well as something which provides an excellent income.
Let’s get straight to it. If you’re a veteran, you might want to check out these top 5 picks for small business ideas:
Provide Specialized Training Courses
Military personnel are worth millions of dollars to the government, and that’s primarily due to the extensive training that the military invests in each soldier. Don’t let that expensive training go to waste. You may not realize it, but veterans are considered professionals in a wide range of different fields, and you can actually sell that expertise if you’re clever enough.
There are tons of different specialized training courses that a veteran can offer the public, and the majority of people will trust your reputation above others. Examples of these training courses could be Firearms Training or Survival Training. But depending on your position in the military, you might be qualified to teach all kinds of other skills to the general public. Many veterans go on to give specialized leadership training to all kinds of different people. You might even opt to become a motivational speaker.
We’ve covered a range of different options within this general category, so startup costs can vary wildly. If you’re starting a Firearms Training course, you might have to spend a few thousand dollars on permits and other things of that nature. You could even start you own gun range or gun store, and combine these businesses with your training course. This would obviously cost more, but it could end up being a much more profitable business in the long run. In contrast, leadership training, Wilderness Survival Training, and motivational speaking require almost zero startup costs.
Become A Government Contractor
Another excellent way to put your military expertise to good use is by competing for government contracts. If that sounds like a battle you’d rather not fight, you can take encouragement from the fact that you actually have a significant advantage in this field. By law, the US government has to give 3% of its contracts to businesses owned by veterans. That might seem like a small number, but it’s a whole lot better than zero percent. These government contracts involve a massive range of different industries and services, and there’s so many opportunities to get your foot in the door.
While IT specialists might have a bit of an advantage, there are many other government contracts that veterans can take advantage of. These include businesses involving logistics, transportation, medical work, admin, and many others. It helps a lot if you’ve trained in a specific field within the military for a number of years, and you have genuine expertise that you’re bringing to the table. Like we said before, IT specialists are particularly in demand, so if you trained specifically for this in the military, a government contract could be a great choice.
Become A Security Specialist
There’s definitely something comforting about relying on an ex-military person for security services. A veteran brings an already established reputation to the table as a security specialist, and a lot of people will choose you over the competition. There are a lot of different options when it comes to this industry, but all the various categories revolve around the same thing – keeping people safe. And as a veteran, this should be something you know how to do better than most people.
A Security Specialist can deal with all kinds of different things. You could handle the installation of security systems within a house or a building. Especially if you’ve had military training in this area. You could also start a business specializing in providing security services in the form of armed guards or bodyguards. You might even consider starting a business specializing in cyber security if you have past military expertise on this subject.
Own A Franchise
Anyone can be a franchise owner, and at first glance, this type of business might seem like it has nothing to do with being a veteran. But when we take a closer look, owning a franchise might just be tailor-made for veterans. But don’t just take our word for it. Thousands of veterans choose to become franchise owners each year, so there must be something about franchises which veterans are drawn to. Some say that veterans are attracted to franchises because running them is a lot like the military. There is a clear chain of command, and instructions are passed down from head office. Follow these instructions closely, and you are almost guaranteed success.
There are also the known benefits of owning a franchise to consider. The brand is already established. There is already a supply chain in place, and the company has a system that’s proven to work. There is no business out there which is guaranteed to succeed, but a franchise is one of the safest bets. Veterans are also well-suited to leadership roles within the franchise, building a team and pushing employees towards greater success.
Franchises might just be one of the more expensive options in terms of startup fees. So, that could dissuade some veterans from starting this type of business. You will need to pay a one-time franchise fee in order to get started, which is typically tens of thousands of dollars. On the other hand, there are plenty of franchises out there which offer massive discounts to veterans. Discounts of up to 20% are not uncommon, and that could give you a significant advantage over the competition.
Open A Retail Shop
Another massively popular option for veterans these days is to open a retail shop. There’s definitely a good reason why so many vets are going down this route. It’s extremely profitable, and veterans usually have a good instinct for things like supply chain and target markets. Your best best is probably to open a retail shop that plays to your strengths. Consider a military-themed retail shop, or a store that sells common products with a “veteran twist” on them. There are plenty of other veterans in the country, so they’ll be drawn to shops which appeal to their personal identity.
Make no mistake, retail is a hard business to get into. It might just be one of the most challenging small business ideas that we’ve discussed in this article. Veterans approaching this type of business should be prepared for a lot of hard work. But you can take encouragement from the fact that your community will probably be supporting you. And you might even consider donating a portion of your sales towards veteran charities and organizations. Not only will this give greater meaning to your endeavor, but it might even increase sales.
Wrapping Things Up
As you can see, there are plenty of excellent options available for veterans who want to start small businesses. If you’re a veteran, you can feel confident in knowing that most people will want to support you. And there are tons of incentives and measures in place to assist you in your goals. While serving your country is perhaps the ultimate service to one’s nation, starting a small business can also contribute in a meaningful way.
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