What Makes Veterans Good Business Owners?

September 06, 2016

At a recent sit-down with Barbara Carson, Associate Administrator for the Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) at the Small Business Association and Colonel with the U.S. Air Force Reserve, we turned to the topic of what qualities make military veterans great candidates to start their own businesses. The list is long, but there are a few key traits that we definitely agree on.

Persistence. Veterans have been trained to seek creative solutions to problems or challenges, and having that skill is certainly a plus when it comes to starting a business. Barb remembers one vet in particular – a gentleman who had suffered a traumatic brain injury during his service – who wanted to start a gym. Without savings and proven business experience, traditional lenders turned him away. But he was persistent and believed in his idea, turning to a business partner (another veteran) and doggedly pursuing other sources for funding, while adjusting his business plan as needed. He found a champion in the SBA and is now the proud owner of a successful gym that caters to disabled vets.

Ability to Assess Risk. Understanding risks and finding ways to mitigate them are hallmarks of those who’ve served in the military. Perhaps that’s why the number of veteran-owned businesses is growing, according to the Small Business Administration. This represents 2.5 million businesses or over nine percent of U. S. firms.

Planning. Military training includes always planning for a variety of outcomes. This course-of-action (COA) approach involves detailed analysis of the what, when, where, how and why of any situation. Having this disciplined way of charting the course of a business can increase success by being ready for whatever is around that next corner.

Agility. One of the things that most military families get very used to is making frequent moves – relocating families and finding new jobs for spouses. It’s often a balancing act and it requires the entire family to be flexible and agile. This skill, honed over years in the service, translates nicely to entrepreneurship as the veteran owner is used to shifting quickly and not letting it affect their performance.

According to Barbara, “It really comes down to training. The skills that are instilled in us as members of the military are the very same skills that give us the confidence and determination to start and operate a successful business.”

Be sure to check out the Office of Veterans Business Development website. Its mission is to maximize the availability, applicability and usability of all administration small business programs for Veterans, Service-Disabled Veterans, Reserve Component Members, and their Dependents or Survivors.

It could be the first step you need to get started on your own journey.

Find out the qualities that make military veterans great candidates to start their own businesses.

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