According to research by Bunker Labs, around 25% of veterans are interested in running their own business. Transitioning from the military to civilian life can be very challenging – this goes without saying – but running your own business does allow you to earn a good living without having to fully integrate into office culture, for example, that might be distinctly different to what you are used to.
If you are one of the many veterans considering starting your own company, then the following tips may prove helpful.
Stay Connected with The Veteran Network
Former Major in the U.S. Marines Scott Huesing advises veterans to stay connected with the ‘immense’ veteran network that exists in the United States. He also emphasises that veterans need to understand their value and their worth. Co-founder of VeteranTV.com; Donny O’Malley states that he has met lots of people with an idea who didn’t have an intellectual concept and understanding of their business idea. He advises veterans to think about why people will buy a specific product or service, how much it will cost to deliver and who will buy it. Speaking specifically about products, he uses the example of coffee – if you cannot say why someone would buy your cup of coffee, as opposed to a different cup of coffee, then develop the product to have a “why?” or get a different product. Approach business practically and logically, it’s not enough to have an idea and to “know” something is going to be great.
As well as networking with the military veterans, it is also important to network in general. Many veterans come from military families and there is a danger of becoming isolated in this social-sphere if you are not conscious about networking with ‘normal civilian entrepreneurs’. Remember it’s not what you know, it’s not who you know – it’s who knows you!
Meet with Local Organisations that Can Help
Whether you have started your own business yet, or you are still in the ‘idea phase’, it is important to be aware that most states have dedicated local non-profits and organisations that can help you. There are also several angel investment programs who look specifically at veteran-owned companies. Hivers & Strivers, for example, describe themselves as an angel-investment organisation, looking to invest in startup companies founded by graduates of US military academies.
In some states, for example, Virginia, you can register as a Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB), which may give you specific advantages when bidding for government contracts, and other benefits exist too with the Vets First Verification Program.
Invest in Yourself – Read & Upskill
Invest in yourself by reading books, watching video tutorials and taking courses. By upskilling, you not only open more business options and opportunities, but you can also make yourself substantially more employable – which is always a good backup plan to keep in the background.
For as little as $7 a month – you can do exercises to retain the information from many different books. 10 minutes each day is all that is required to read 52 books per year with MentorBox.
Having your own business can seem like a never ending cycle of work and more work, with no time left to do things such as read books. Each book is broken down into the important concepts and lessons in the book. Through audio, you can get through these summaries in under an hour per book.
Another way to get through books quickly is to listen to a book on x2 speed, whilst reading the book – with a copy in front of you. There are also many animated and illustrated book summaries on Youtube that you can watch in a relatively short amount of time and still garner much of the important information that the book has to offer.
When it comes to ‘upskilling’, digital marketing is an important skill to learn for anyone starting a business. Websites such as Udemy.com have dozens of courses that are either free or cost under $50. Learning and delivering digital marketing campaigns & strategies are not only exciting ways to build a business – if your business doesn’t work out for some reason, the industry of digital marketing is booming and constantly hiring.
Capitalise on the military Work Ethic
Working hard, driving for hours, handling with sleep deprivation, communicating effectively with peers even when you are running on fumes – one of the key abilities that transfer well from military life to entrepreneurship is work ethic.
It has never been cheaper to start your own business. For the cost of a website, you can start a business. So although the economy is exactly booming at the moment, it is still possible to start your own company.
If you are looking to start or expand your business, whilst mitigating financial risk – starting a business from home seems an obvious choice. When it comes to hiring people, you should also consider outsourcing to freelancers instead. With outsourcing there is none of the red tape and paperwork involved with hiring full time employees and you can hire per project, rather than offering permanent positions. With websites such as PeopleperHour and UpWork it’s relatively easy to find experts to help your business. Companies such as Moneypenny are also great for small businesses – they provide a personal virtual receptionist who knows your business down to the fine details and provides a service similar to a full time hire – but for a fraction of the price.
Although times are hard, it’s still possible to start your own business in 2020. Think logistically about what you can offer, leverage your veteran status and embrace the military work ethic!