Are you returning to civilian life after your military duties? Wondering what your next career step will be? Entering the business world as an entrepreneur could be the right move for you.

In fact, statistics show that the success rate of veteran-owned businesses is higher than other startups – perhaps a testament to the leadership, discipline and specialized skills developed during service.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. military veterans owned 2.4 million businesses in 2007, which accounted for nine percent of all businesses across the country – a valuable contribution to our economy and job market.

So, how can you join in? These ideas and resources can help get you started.

Brainstorm potential business paths based on your experience – and passion

Were you responsible for maintaining aircraft electrical systems in the Air Force? Did you specialize in public affairs for the Army? Were you a diver for the Navy? Features of each military job can translate into career potential back at home. Your knowledge, interest and unique perspective create the foundation for establishing a distinctive small business. Think of an idea for a useful product while you spent days away on a field mission? Now is your chance to make that idea become a reality.

Explore franchising opportunities

Another popular avenue for business-minded military veterans is that of franchises. This is an appealing option if you want to be your own boss, but are wary of the risks involved with starting a business. There are plenty of resources to help you explore franchising opportunities as well, so you don’t have to go it alone. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is a great source of information, as well as SCORE’s own “Franchising 101 for Veterans” online workshop.

Go into business with your former employer – the federal government

Once you’ve established (or re-established) your business, consider the lucrative opportunities available by selling your product or service to the federal government. It’s the world’s largest buyer of goods and services – and many of those purchases come from small businesses. And as a veteran- or service-disabled-veteran- owned business, yours is eligible for certain “set-asides” that require the government to buy exclusively from businesses like yours. Read SCORE’s “Tip of the Week” for more insight about government contracting.

Talk with other veteran business owners

Networking is an essential ingredient for business growth. You can learn a lot by interacting with other folks who are – or have been – in your shoes. Check out local events or conferences tailored for the community of veteran business owners and entrepreneurs. You can also visit online discussion boards and websites to learn best practices from other veteran small business owners, query industry experts, and share experiences. A quick online search will help you find any of the above!

Additional resources

Keep in mind that there are many resources in your community to help you as you explore your options – from seminars to one-on-one mentoring. Check out your local SCORE office or Veterans Business Outreach Center for assistance in transitioning from military life to small business success.

About the Author(s)

U.S. Small Business Administration

The SBA is an independent federal agency that works to assist and protect the interests of American small businesses.

U.S. Small Business Administration