Entrepreneurship for Veterans 101: A Guide


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There are plenty of opportunities for veterans who are also first-time entrepreneurs — you just have to know where to look. When you are ready to get your business off the ground, here are a few core concepts from the American GI Forum you need to be aware of first. Let’s take a look:


1. First thing’s first: Have a great idea.  

What kind of business do you want to run? This is the first real obstacle of any entrepreneur: making sure his ideas are cogent and desirable by the general public. Popular business ideas now include the sale and use of drop shipping, virtual assistants, or footwear like flip flops, which you should consider before putting your business out there. 

Being a veteran business owner — or more specifically, a business owner who is also a veteran — is a good way to augment your income and achieve life goals following your military tour. According to a survey cited by GI Jobs, 70 percent of American consumers said they would be more likely to buy from a veteran-owned operation than a business not owned by a vet. What’s more, as of numbers collected in 2017, 2.52 million businesses are owned by veterans. 

Your business starts like any other: with an idea. Whether you want to invest in combat-themed flip-flops, locally roasted coffee, or delicious dog treats, you need to have an idea that will resonate with potential customers and allow you to fulfill a need in the community that you call home.  

2. Get your paperwork in order.  

Starting your business can also include a hefty amount of paperwork — get your pen ready. It’s important to make sure you have all your ducks in a row before working on securing your business’s station.  

Filing for a limited liability corporation (LLC) is a great idea for several reasons. For one, there are nice tax benefits that you can take advantage of, including the fact that you won’t have to file a separate return for the business versus your personal assets. You just report profit and loss on your personal return; therefore, you avoid double taxation. Forming an LLC also comes with key flexibility and limited liability — as your personal assets won’t be in the line of fire if the business goes under or becomes the target of a lawsuit.  

3. Secure funding and clients.  

This is the big one — but fortunately for you, there are a lot of great opportunities for veterans to obtain funding for their business ventures. The U.S. Small Business Administration has quite a few resources that you should investigate, including the Office of Veterans Business Development, which is devoted entirely to self-owned businesses created by veterans. These programs provide funding for small businesses owned by veterans.  

With funding out of the way, you should also look into registering your business as a Veteran-Owned Small Business through the Vets First Verification Program. There are several requirements (e.g., that you or another veteran must own 51 percent of the company, you are the highest-paid person at the company, and you work full full time for the business), among other qualifications. But the amount of support you receive is well worth the paperwork. You can gain better access to capital funding, support for finding VA procurements, and other resources.

4. Sharpen your business skills  

Perhaps you want to continue to develop your business knowledge. An online program allows you to get a degree in business management, accounting, marketing, and more so you can boost your business acumen. Best of all, unlike a traditional institution, you can complete your work on your own time so you can still run your business while you learn.  

Get out there!  

Are you ready to put your veteran-owned business out there? With these tips, you’ll be on track to run a profitable business!