Starting and running a business is hard, but if ever there was a population segment used to hard work, it’s this nation’s veterans. Veteran-owned businesses are not uncommon. Of course, there are risks, but understanding them and weighing them against your options and resources, and then mitigating them, are all things many veterans do well. The following tips, courtesy of Happy Life Secrets, can help you make sense of it all.
First, research your resources
The US Department of Veterans Affairs has a Veteran Entrepreneur Portal (VEP) that you can access through its Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization. Here, you can find info from starting the business, to financing, as well as understanding any available competitive advantages for veteran-owned businesses.
Financing your entrepreneurial dream is a monumental consideration. Acquiring too much debt can come back to bite you later while being undercapitalized can torpedo your business plan roadmap. Fortunately, there are small business loans (that must be paid back) and grants (that do not need to be paid back) set aside just for veteran entrepreneurs.
Note that the loans won’t be long-term loans like your typical 30-year mortgage, so make sure your business plan reflects an ability to repay the loan based on the lifetime of a typical business loan. And while grants do not need to be repaid, there are requirements you will have to follow.
Speaking of business plans, ensure that you have one! Fortunately, the Small Business Administration has resources to help guide you in writing your plan, and you can even find a counselor to help advise you through SBA Veterans Business Outreach Centers. There are also many free and low-cost online templates available.
Transferring skills and passion to a (realistic) business idea
There are several business ideas that aren’t specific to veterans, but according to Inc., they offer first-time entrepreneurs the advantage of low overhead or having some of the upfront planning completed. At the top of the list is buying a franchise business. A big advantage here is immediate brand recognition, which can otherwise take years and plenty of dollars to build and nourish into one that’s reputable and desirable.
Mobile businesses also offer several advantages, and the concept lends itself to a wide variety of businesses, from pet grooming services to foodservice. And having a mobile business doesn’t mean you have to invest in a specially outfitted rig; check your state regulations to see if you can become a mobile notary. It may not be enough to keep you busy full-time, but it can augment your income while you continue to work on your dream business.
Online platforms also lend themselves to creative business concepts. For the veterans that have special skills or knowledge, consider developing an online video tutoring course. You can even create your own podcast as a marketing tool to garner audience attention and boost your credibility, guiding them to your fee-based services.
Nothing says “be your own boss” like owning your own business as a sole proprietor, which is simply a business structure that puts you, the individual business owner, completely in charge. You are also entitled to 100 percent of your profits under this organization.
However, the downside is that the responsibility pendulum swings both ways; should the business fail or be sued, you are solely reliable for the debt and liability.
A more judicious option may be the limited liability company, or LLC, structure. The advantages of this organization can be significant; by treating the business as an entity separate from you, the individual, it limits your liability but has some of the flexibility of a sole proprietorship compared to other corporate formations. While LLC formation laws vary in each state, they are typically fairly easy to form. However, many entrepreneurs take advantage of low-cost LLC formation services to ensure they haven’t missed any critical compliance requirements while saving money – and generally time – over hiring an attorney.
Continued service contributions
You’ve served your country in the military, and you will continue to do so as an entrepreneur. Providing jobs stimulates economic growth and can revitalize communities. Stay proud; well done.