Despite possible mental and physical disadvantages, veterans are still 45 percent more likely to be employed than civilians, according to the Small Business Administration. One can say that government incentives to companies that hire veterans have a part to play there. But veterans still bring much to the table when it comes to being an employee. They are team players who can work under stress and are good at improvisation and prioritization. In fact, being a former military can make one so competent that they’re often better off developing their own business. If you are ex-military and that sounds appealing to you, check out these four steps to get you started on the path to business ownership.
Understanding How Military Skills Apply To the World of Business
In the military, one picks up the qualities of endurance, diligence, adaptability, and leadership. These are all excellent traits to have as a beginning entrepreneur. All it takes is knowing how to translate them to the business world. To do this, you need to identify the challenges presented by the market. Then, figure out which parts of your skillset you can leverage to address those challenges. The most obvious of these is using your leadership training to direct your staff in the day-to-day processes of your business. In the military, you must have chosen your subordinates for roles you knew they would perform best at.
Leadership skill also makes you more adept at measuring risks, identifying opportunities, and prioritizing tasks. Adaptability lets you improvise and get things done with limited resources. This is perfect for when unforeseen events jeopardize your ability to meet your deadlines or operate your business at all. Endurance lets you stand up under pressure and makes you better at multitasking. When you are understaffed or your employees are tied down elsewhere, you can pick up the slack in a pinch. Finally, diligence allows you to persevere through your business’ slumps.
Establish Your Support Structure and Resources
Every operation requires logistics. This applies more to business than perhaps anywhere else. A business survives by its supplies, safety nets, and other resources. Identify what you can use to your advantage. These can include things that give you capital, reduce your overhead, expand your connections, or increase your ability to generate revenue. The Veterans Business Outreach Center of the Small Business Administration is a great example of such a resource. This branch of the SBA specializes in making it as easy as possible for veterans and their families to start and grow a business. This includes recommending helpful programs to assist you in all aspects of business management.
Another helpful organization Veterans Supporting Veterans. VSV is a close-knit network of veterans who intend to help one another reintegrate into civilian life. Linking up with them gives you access to their wide range of connections. When times get hard, it can also be one of the chief safety nets to fall back on. They can also point you to competent attorneys in military medical malpractice law if a combat injury is impeding your ability to make a living. A favourable settlement can result in extra capital for you to grow your business. Similar to the SBA, VSV can direct you to government, civil, and banking offerings that can help veterans start businesses. Google’s VetNet tries to accomplish the same thing by compiling products and services that veterans can use to find employment or run a business. They also offer online training and learning resources for veterans who want to be entrepreneurs.
Evaluate the Opportunities
Identifying which market opportunities you can fill best is key to establishing a successful business. Think about what products or services your local area needs most. Then choose which of these you are best equipped to deliver. Learning market research and receiving consultation may be required for you to make an accurate assessment. Fortunately, all of those and more are offered in the SBA, Veterans Supporting Veterans, and VetNet. If you are cautious about creating your own brand from the get-go, franchising is always a safe bet if you have the funding. This way, everything from location to logistics is provided by the franchiser.
To top it off, the franchise bears the franchiser’s trusted brand name, meaning that you have an instant customer base. If you are looking to franchise an established brand, the International Franchise Association can provide substantial assistance. Thanks to VetFran, their strategic financial initiative, veterans from all over the US can easily access franchise market opportunities. With franchising, you can gain all the experience needed in business administration with minimal risk. Once you have run a franchise for a while, you can gain enough confidence to set up your own brand.
Determine What Training You Need
Depending on the business you want to start, you might need to seek specialized training courses to make sure you are up to par with your competitors. In the military, they send ranger candidates to ranger school, and airborne recruits go to jump school. Just like them, you will need to ensure that your set of skills is complete and well-honed to fill your role at top efficiency. For this purpose, referring to the SCORE website can point you to the resources you need. SCORE is a nonprofit made up of retired executives whose goal is to help free business mentoring in the US. They are best equipped to tell you what training you need to undergo to be as competent in your chosen niche as possible. Even if you are already versed in that field, experienced business executives can give you pointers on the latest industry developments that you may have missed.
Transitioning to civilian occupations such as business owners may be difficult after a long career in the military. Just remember that it is all a matter of knowing how to apply your strengths as a former serviceman into your new role.