If you are finishing up your military service and wondering what the next chapter of your life will bring, it can be a little nerve-wracking. Luckily though there are many ways for you to parley the skills you learned during military service into a second career. From your leadership skills to your ability to create and execute a plan successfully, your training will help you not only survive, but thrive in the business world.
There are many opportunities for veterans in the business world and a lot of companies and organizations offer resources for veterans as a way to say thank you for all your years of service.
Here are 3 veteran business opportunities to consider:
Buy a Franchise
Joining the franchise biz is a popular path for a lot of veterans. According to report by the Franchise Business Review, about 5,608 veterans became franchisees from 2011 to 2014. Veterans find it similar to the military environment because you are not starting a business from scratch and are given a support structure with different systems and procedures to follow.
Franchises do require a substantial upfront investment with some being more expensive than others and there will be ongoing royalty fees you will have to pay to the franchisor. Many franchisors, however offer veterans special incentives to join their franchise because they appreciate the skills you bring to the table. Franchises like 7-Eleven and the UPS Store offer discounted fees and special financing for veterans and Zac’s Burgers is working with several organizations as well to offer veterans special franchise opportunities with their burger bus.
When you license a food truck from a franchisor like Zac’s Burgers who has locations in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, not only do you get a preset menu but you can also take advantage of their brand power. Zac’s Burgers is known for being a family-owned business that treats its customers like family. For the last 33 years, they have prided themselves on delicious made-to-order meals and friendly service at a reasonable price. All the food is made fresh with the highest quality ingredients and with unique twists like wacky zacky sauce.
Become a Government Contractor
Another good business opportunity for veterans is to become a government contractor because by law 3% or more of the value of its contracts and subcontracts must involve small businesses that are owned by service-disabled veterans. If you developed a certain expertise in a technical field like IT or engineering while in the military, there are many opportunities for you as a government contractor. For more information visit the Vets First Contracting Program. The U.S. Small Business Administration also offers classes on government contracting if you are new to the whole process.
Open Your Own Retail Shop
Another industry where a lot of veteran have found success is in retail. If you have a particular interest in sales, marketing and supply chain management, you could open up your own shop and even create your own products based off your experiences in the military. Many customers will go out of their way to patronize a veteran-owned shop to support the military.
So How Do You Get Started?
If becoming an entrepreneur is a dream of yours, then probably the biggest obstacle is financing. Luckily there are many loan program available to veterans and their families. To qualify though you will need to have a credit score above 650 and most likely a down payment of at least 10%. You will also need to demonstrate the ability to repay the loan. Another option is to borrow money from your retirement account, but only do this if you have $50,000 or more in your retirement account.
Besides making an appointment with your bank, here are some other resources to help get you started:
- By becoming registered as a veteran owned business with the VA’s Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization, you will be able to qualify for certain government contract processes that are reserved for veteran owned businesses and you will be able to apply for certain veteran financing programs.
- A government website called Business USA also provides a large number of tools and resources for veterans interested in either starting or improving their business.
- StreetShares is a name you want to be familiar with. Not only do they provide loans from anywhere between $5,000 to 100,00, with repayment terms of 3 to 36 months, they also run a foundation through which they give out cash awards to veteran owned businesses every month.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration also offers a Veteran Advantage Loan Program which helps veterans get loans of up to $350,000 quickly. Typically you will get a response from your application within 36 hours.
- VetFran, a strategic initiative of the International Franchise Association, has made it its mission to help veterans interested in joining a franchise program. Not only will they help a veteran determine if franchising is right for them, they will also help them find the types of franchises that will be the best fit for them. The franchise brands in their network also over special incentives for veterans.
- The SBA also sponsors a special entrepreneur training program for women veterans called Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE). It is a 3-day conference that provides advice and resources for starting a business or improving upon your current one and is a great opportunity to network with other women veteran entrepreneurs.
- If you are more of a techie, Bunker Lab, an incubator for veteran-owned technology startups, will give you work space for six months as well as access to professional development and the ability to network with fellow entrepreneurs and potential investors.
- The SCORE Veteran Fast Launch Initiative offers veterans free software, templates and business calculators. It also provides other resources like business workshops, one-on-one mentoring and five free hours of financial advice from a Certified Public Accountant.
For more information about Zac’s Veterans Franchising Opportunities, click here.