On this Veterans Day, we honor our veterans and their families for their tremendous sacrifices for our country and its people. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your service.
We’re here to also make the case that now more than ever, it is also the time to support veterans in their entrepreneurial pursuits – whether it is forging a partnership or business relationship with a veteran-owned firm or making veteran hiring a priority in your business. Indeed, veterans, along with their civilian counterparts, are now are up against a faceless foe. But veterans are poised and trained to fight these perilous times — and could be on the front lines of an economic recovery.
Consider this: Nearly one in 10 of all U.S. firms are veteran-owned, according to government figures. More than 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses — nearly 10 percent of all American companies — employ more than 5 million Americans, generate more than $195 billion in annual payroll and $1.1 trillion in annual sales. Florida has the third-largest number of veteran-owned businesses with 185,756 businesses generating $57.7 billion in sales. Veterans are also self-employed at a higher rate than civilians.
What’s more, skills learned in the military can easily translate to the business sector. Indeed, those who have gone to war are trained in the art of responding to what are known as VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environments. Many employers seek out veterans because they have leadership attributes and a deep sense of mission. They know how to complete their missions as part of a team that has one another’s backs, qualities they honed while in uniform. Those same qualities can help them lead companies, too.
So, given the numbers of veteran-owned businesses already in the economy and the strengths they bring to the business battlefield, it should be no surprise that veteran-led small businesses are particularly poised to help lead a recovery, some experts say.
Veteran-owned companies are also more likely to hire other veterans, so increased veteran entrepreneurship has the cascading effect of providing job opportunities and financial benefits to the broader veteran community, said John W. Nicholson Jr., president of the PenFed Foundation that provides access to capital and resources to veteran entrepreneurs, and a retired United States Army four-star general.
“I expect America’s veteran-owned businesses will lead the way in rehiring, adopting new and innovative business models, and continuing to serve their communities. They will succeed even in the face of new challenges. That’s why it’s critical that we support them,” Nicholson said in a Forbes Blog post.
Of course, veterans are suffering along with their civilian brethren in this devastating pandemic economy. Yet, while COVID-19 is putting up an unprecedented fight, veterans who own small businesses appear to be making more progress toward recovery than their peers, according to and Alignable survey of 8,092 small business owners from Oct. 24-27, 2020. The results show greater optimism, resilience and recovered revenue among the women and men who have gone from the battlefield to embarking upon the American Dream.
- While 65% of the veterans say COVID continues to negatively affect their businesses, the survey shows veteran-owned businesses are making strides despite their challenges.
- 75% of veteran-owned businesses will pay their rent in full and on time in November, compared to only 68% of their peers.
- 69% of veteran-owned businesses are fully open vs. 62% of others nationally.
- 61% of veteran-owned businesses report having cash reserves to cover at least three months, while only 50% of other businesses have that kind of cash on hand.
- 38% of veterans say they’ve matched or exceeded their pre-COVID monthly revenue, in contrast to 31% of other SMBs.
Nicholson suggests that businesses and nonprofit leaders can help support veteran-owned businesses by seeking out veteran-owned businesses to do business with for your everyday vendor needs. You can find a directory of these businesses from the American Veteran Owned Business Association.
Also, he said, businesses can hire and train more veterans. Network with veterans organizations and establish a veteran talent pipeline. And lastly he said, spread the word — promote your own experience with veteran-owned businesses on social media and in your networking. “If we want to reinvigorate our economy, I suggest we start by supporting veteran-owned small businesses,” he said.
Whether you are launching or growing a veteran-owned business or want to hire a veteran and grow your veteran talent pipeline, GrowBiz has resources for you.
RESOURCES FOR VETERAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP
- Programs such as Florida SBDC at FIU, other small business development centers around the state and nation, and SCORE chapters offer free business counseling and can connect veterans with key resources to help them launch or run businesses. Our colleges and universities offer programs too. In addition, GrowBiz compiled a short list of other free resources for veterans who want to start businesses:
- Get certified as a Florida Veteran-Owned Business: The Florida Office of Supplier Diversity (OSD) certifies veteran-owned businesses for free. Certification offers benefits such as referrals to state agencies and other organizations seeking certified businesses; a listing in OSD’s Certified Business Enterprise Vendor Directory; and exclusive emails containing contract and networking opportunities, special events and training announcements. Find out more here.
- Veterans Florida: Seeking additional help starting your business? Veterans Florida can help through the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program. The Florida SBDC Network is a partner and the six Florida locations for the Entrepreneurship Program include Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
- Patriot Boot Camp: A resource site for active-duty service members, veterans, or military spouses seeking mentors, educational opportunities and a community of experts and peers to help build their businesses.
- SBA resources for veteran-owned small businesses: Resources include funding programs, training, and federal contracting opportunities.
- Bunker Labs: Supported by JP Morgan Chase and other organizations, this non-profit offers programs for veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs dedicated to helping the veteran community start and grow businesses. There is a program coming soon to Tampa.
- And more: In addition, free programs offered nationally include FranVet (for franchisees), the SBA’s Boots to Business and the Vets First Verification Program (about VA set-asides). Find out more about 11 of them on this helpful blogpost.
RESOURCES FOR HIRING VETERANS
These websites will help you find qualified veterans, post job openings and find resources that will help you employ those who served:
- Employ Florida Vets: Learn how you can hire and support local veterans through Employ Florida Vets.
- CareerSource South Florida: South Florida’s state job agency has a number of services for veterans looking for jobs and employers seeking veterans.
- American Heroes at Work: Browse training materials, guides, and resources for businesses that employ disabled veterans.
- Hiring our Heroes: Information on how your organization can better recruit and hire veterans and military spouses
In these perilous times, support the veterans among us and give them a hearty thanks this Veterans Day.
Today we honor our military veterans and their families. Your sacrifices for our country will never be forgotten. Thank you for your service.