By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice
Business ownership is a dream of many military servicemembers and veterans. Owning a business is a great goal for servicemembers and veterans to have, due to their military training. Serving in the military allows servicemembers to acquire useful work skills such as discipline, problem-solving abilities, technology skills and teamwork that will help them in business ownership.
Ideally, your business should be based on doing work that you enjoy. Starting a small, veteran-owned business inevitably presents you with challenges. If you truly enjoy what you’re doing, even during hard times, your business will be more likely to survive.
Creating a Business Plan
Whether you are starting a side hustle to bring in additional income while you’re still in the military or are going to seek a new career after military service, planning and preparation are essential. You’ll need to develop a robust, written business plan. That business plan should capture your business goals and utilize the specific skills you have that translate well to starting a business.
In addition, the business plan should identify the tools, materials, office space or other items you’ll need to start your business. It should also spell out your business expenses and how you plan to pay for those expenses.
Resources for Starting a Veteran-Owned Business
There are a lot of resources available to help veterans get started in business ownership. Some of those resources include:
- U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Veterans Business Development – This resource offers various programs and support services that can provide tools to get started in business.
- Boots to Business – Offered through the SBA, Boots to Business is an entrepreneurial education and training program. It helps servicemembers transition into business ownership and includes financial training.
- Veteran Entrepreneur Portal – This resource from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs helps veterans to access federal services and interactive tools that connects veterans with useful resources for reaching their small business goals. This portal can also help veterans to find financing options and federal government contracting programs.
- USA.gov – The “Start Your Own Business” section of this website provides information about the steps necessary for starting a veteran-owned business, including writing an effective business plan and identifying the legal structure of the business. It also offers useful information on business funding, tax requirements and employee hiring.
Business Scalability Should Also Be Considered
If you’re starting a veteran-owned business, an important component of your business plan should be scalability. If there is a sudden increase in demand of the services or products you provide, scalability ensures that your business will be able to meet that demand.
Scalability is often overlooked in small businesses and if a business owner doesn’t plan for it, that can have an adverse impact on business growth. However, the SBA offers very good advice on writing a business plan.
Related link: Hiring Veterans: The Best-Kept Secret in Business
Pay Attention to the Finance and Legal Structure of Your Business
Budgeting and financial analysis is essential in any business. For instance, you should set financial milestone goals and have a plan of what will occur once those milestones are met. For example, you should anticipate when to expand your business by adding more products, increasing your store’s size or increasing the number of your employees.
It is also crucial to set up the legal structure of your business, which will need to be done when you’re registering and licensing the business. For instance, you must determine if your business will be an LLC, an S Corporation or a sole proprietorship. It is an important legal decision, and it is wise to consult an attorney to ensure that your business is structured legally and properly.
Starting a Veteran-Owned Business Is Both Rewarding and Challenging
Starting a business, especially a veteran-owned business, is a rewarding and challenging experience. However, preparation, the proper use of resources and effective financial management are essential in small business ownership, and the skills acquired through military service can prove highly useful for running a veteran-owned business.