After leaving the military, pursuing a second career can be challenging – which is just one of the many reasons why a growing number of veterans choose to take the route of entrepreneurship. In 2011, a study by the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy in the US reported that veterans are 45% more likely to end up starting their own business compared to those with no experience in the military. And, veteran-owned businesses have a considerable impact on the economy. If you’ve left the army and are considering starting your own business, here are some of the main factors to think about.
Find a need and fulfil it:
Developing a business idea is crucial for your success, but how do you recognise one? It’s a good idea to look around your local community and speak to people, taking the time to discover any unmet needs. What’s missing at the moment that your community wants? Are there any problems or issues that you could solve with a business? Once you’re able to figure this out, it’ll be easy to come up with a plan to turn your idea into a reality.
Develop a passion:
As somebody who’s served in the military, you already have a unique skill set that could easily be translated into a viable business. Many veterans have come up with unique product ideas based on their field experience, from performance gear to energy drinks.
Come up with a business plan:
Before you’ll be able to pitch your business idea to investors, or apply for a loan from a bank or small business lender, it’s important that you are able to draft a business plan. Although there’s no specific formula that you should follow, you should take care to include essential components such as an executive summary, market analysis, an overview of your business’s goals, product or service, development plans and financial projections.
Consider specialist veteran business financing:
As an army veteran, you may have access to various specialist financing options to help you kickstart your business. Your status as a veteran could open several doors for finding loans with specialist lenders, banks and credit unions, and you may also be able to take advantage of investment programmes that are run by former members of the military.
Seek expert advice:
When it comes to starting your own business as an army veteran, there are many places that you can go to for advice and mentorship. You may be able to ask the army to point you in the right direction towards mentorship, support and training programmes for veterans seeking to become entrepreneurs, and look online for forums and social media groups where you can connect with like-minded people.
Do your research:
In order to start a successful business as an army veteran, it’s important that you take some time to do your research about everything, from the market demand in your area to the price of business energy using comparison sites like Utility Bidder, if you’re going to be setting up a physical business premises. The more research you do, the better prepared you will be to take on anything that your business might throw at you in the future. Do some research that’s specific to your industry, too – research your competition and find out what it is that they are doing well, so you know where to focus your energies and investments.
Understand your online presence:
Finally, getting to grips with everything that you will need to do to build a strong online presence is crucial when starting your own business. Today, there’s very little that can be achieved if your business does not have a strong presence online, so it’s important that you are able to take the time to determine exactly what you will need to do. Getting to grips with social media is a must, as this is likely going to be a key player in your marketing toolkit; you can use social media to share blog posts from your business website, promote your products and services, engage with your followers, conduct market research and much more.
After leaving military service, adjusting to regular employment can be tough – so it’s no surprise that more and more army veterans have decided to take the plunge into starting their own business. And with a unique skill set developed from serving in the army, you’re going to be in a better position than most when it comes to starting your own successful business.
What business idea are you pursuing? Let us know!