Veterans Turned Entrepreneur

According to US Small Business Administration, more than 250,000 service members transition each year from the military to civilian life and one in seven veterans are self-employed or small business owners. Furthermore, about one-quarter of veterans say they are interested in starting or buying their own business. Veterans are at least 45 percent more likely to take the plunge into entrepreneurship than people with no active-duty military experience, according to a May 2011 study by the SBA Office of Advocacy. A veteran starts one out of every ten small businesses in America. These companies employ nearly 6 million workers and generate more than $ 1.2 trillion in revenues. Additionally, statistics shows that the success rate of these veteran-owned businesses is higher than other startups (Beesley, 2014). Government agencies, colleges and universities, and the private sectors have recognized this phenomenon and responded with support, training, and business opportunities for veteran entrepreneurs.

Veterans “seamless” plunge into the entrepreneurial realm due to their experiences that they have gained while in service. These service members while serving in the military gain discipline, perspective, multitasking, leadership ability, management, foresight, and dedication. The military produces leaders who are motivated, focused, risk-tolerant, stress-resistant, and accustomed to constantly changing roles and responsibilities. These skills and experiences of our men and women of the arm forces happen to have the same traits that describe the most successful entrepreneurs. As an active duty Sailor, I have interacted with so many of my cohorts that are currently pursuing their dream of being an entrepreneur or waiting for the right opportunity to take that leap.

One of the hardest things about starting a company for anyone including veterans is getting that first loan. One of the greatest tools that veterans can use in breaking down the first loan barriers is the SBA. In 2014, the SBA recruited banks to take the Veterans Pledge. As a result, SBA-backed loans to military veteran entrepreneurs have more than doubled in the last year as they pushed out more than a billion dollars in capital to veterans. To encourage veterans to apply, SBA has also eliminated all bank fees on veterans seeking loans under $ 350,000. Another important way Uncle Sam gives back to those who have severed is by awarding government business to veterans.

They are current initiatives by the Senate Small Business Committee. The Senate Small Business Committee advanced a measure to modify the post-9/11 GI Bill to allow veterans to use the education benefits as collateral for a business venture. This three-year pilot program will allow 250 veterans to use their GI Bill funds as a business start-up grant, rather than for college tuition. It is estimated that the current government funding of the GI Bill is worth about $ 186,000 per service member, when tuition, housing allowances, and book stipends are considered (Sisk, 2015) If the pilot program is enacted, a veteran could access the funding for loan collateral after their business plan is vetted and approved by an independent board of business experts and the veteran would have to attend a boots-to-business course at an accredited university.

References

Beesley, C. (2014, November 17). From Military Base to Business: Resources that Help Veterans Make the Move to Entrepreneurship. Retrieved from SBA: https://www.sba.gov/blogs/military-base-business-resources-help-veterans-make-move-entrepreneurship-0

Sisk ,,. R. (2015, March 3). GI Bill Proposal Would Help Veterans Receive Small Business Loans. Retrieved from Military.com: http://www.military.com/daily-news/2015/03/03/gi-bill-proposal-would-help-veterans-receive-small-business-loan.html

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