After World War II, 49% of veterans came home and started their own business, states G. I. Jobs, compared with less than 6% of veterans today. In fact, more than 30% of veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed according to Time, in part because of fewer resources and mentorships created for veterans.
Another reason is that hiring managers may be reluctant to hire veterans, according to Inc.
“There is still some stigma when it comes to employment. People are afraid to hire vets,” said James Schmeling, Air Force veteran and executive vice president of the Student Veterans of America in an interview with Inc.
One alternative to the traditional job market is entrepreneurship, something that veterans can use their specific skillsets for to create the jobs they want. Military training sets up all veterans with vital skills necessary to start a business, and often can put them at an advantage over the average entrepreneur.
If veterans were creating businesses at the same rate now as they did after the Korean War, there would be about 1.4 million additional companies and 2.8 million additional jobs, according to Inc. Below are some reasons why veterans could excel at entrepreneurship.
Reason #1: Veterans Are Leaders
The perfect role models for business leadership can be found in military training camps, offering an array of different leadership styles, methods and lessons used to motivate others to utilize their full potential. Treating subordinates with fairness and knowing how to encourage different individuals to use their unique skills play a vital part both in military training and business.
Military leaders are specialized in evaluating performance and distinguishing those ready for advancement, making them ideal candidates for entrepreneurship; however, all veterans come home with some leadership training and are ready to encourage others in high-stress situations.
Reason #2: Veterans Are Motivated
In the same vein, members of the military must have the determination and drive to succeed against all odds. Many veterans tell stories about how the military gave them the motivation they needed to improve — both for their country and for themselves.
FedEx was started by Fred Smith, a Marine Corps veteran, who was inspired by the way the military moved things around. He started the company two years after he left the service.
“Much of our success reflects what I learned as a Marine. The basic principles of leading people are the bedrock of the Corps. I can still recite them from memory, and they are firmly embedded in the FedEx culture,” Smith wrote on Military.com.
Reason #3: Veterans Are Risk-Takers
For any major undertaking, risks can be a big part of success. Veterans accustomed to understanding and analyzing risks for high stakes are no strangers to putting measures in place to mitigate those risks. The skill is vital when dealing with business ventures and sought out to reach goals and increase profits. Risk assessments and mitigation are important parts in every military plan, and so every veteran is well-versed in the mindset required to take those risks or else forfeit reaching those goals.
Reason #4: Veterans Are Trusted
One way we can show our gratitude for those who have served is to give them our business. Customers can trust products and services that come from our veterans because they are used to adhering to higher standards.
Likewise, veterans can help other veterans through their businesses. Veteran entrepreneurs are given the important opportunity to hire veterans and increase their employment rates. This gives veterans the opportunity to work for a manager who understands their skill set as well as any special needs they may have, such as PTSD or the need to acclimate to civilian life.
Resources for Veteran Entrepreneurs
Many federal and nonprofit organizations are helping veterans become entrepreneurs by providing resources for training, finances and networking, such as:
- Boots for Business, offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), seeks to provide entrepreneurial education and training for veterans. The curriculum addresses how to evaluate business ideas, develop the necessary knowledge to create a business plan and gives information on SBA resources.
- NaVOBA (National Veteran-Owned Business Association) connects corporate America contractors with Certified Veteran’s Business Enterprises™ (VBE) and Certified Service-Disabled Veteran’s Business Enterprises™ (SDVBE).
- The VA and VA FAQs for Starting a Small Business provide helpful resources and links to beginner veteran entrepreneurs seeking to start a business. The V.A. offers ways of accessing financing, growing your business, finding opportunities, doing business with federal agencies, and corporate partnerships, completing first verification programs and training and employment programs.