Military service and small business have a special relationship that goes back more than half a century. Veterans are still more likely to own businesses than non-veterans, and often earn non-veteran entrepreneurs.
High-performing business owners tend to make good decisions in chaotic environments, along with confidence, independence, and high levels of self-efficacy and performance – all traits commonly found in service members and veterans.
Experienced entrepreneurs come from a diverse population with unique experiences, but also face challenges in all phases of their business trip. Below are some highlights from a recent survey by the Institute of Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University of seasoned entrepreneurs, the reasons they run entrepreneurs, and the resources and ecosystems that have helped seasoned entrepreneurs do their business .
Experienced entrepreneurs have qualities that are critical to success. Based on the results of the IVMF 2020 survey of military-related entrepreneurs, nearly 61% of men and women joining the military have ambitions to start their own business. The military training they receive reinforces and drives them to career choices that are broadened by their experience.
The survey found that the main motivation for pursuing entrepreneurship after service is:
- Veterans want to make their own decisions at work (44%).
- They enjoy the opportunity to chase after their own ideas and create something new (43%).
- Veterinarians strive for financial dependence and success (43%).
- Veterans try to maintain their personal freedom (39%).
Most of these apply to experienced and inexperienced entrepreneurs alike. However, seasoned entrepreneurs are unique in that 34% of respondents said they became entrepreneurs to support their communities. This data point once again shows the inclination of veterans to serve their communities.
Conversely, according to research, the three key obstacles / challenges for experienced entrepreneurs remain:
- Lack of initial capital (42%)
- People and Social Capital (29%)
- Irregular income (24%)
But for those of you with an interest, I am here to tell you that these obstacles can be overcome. The new survey shows that 94% of military-affiliated entrepreneurs don’t give up when faced with difficulties. By identifying the resources available to the veteran community, any willing party can succeed.
- 70% of seasoned entrepreneurs find support from their friends and family to start their business.
- 58% of experienced entrepreneurs found Community Financial Development Institutions (CDFIs) to be a sufficient or outstanding resource.
- 63% of seasoned entrepreneurs found network resources adequate or excellent, especially for veterans.
Veterans must identify an “entrepreneur ecosystem” to overcome obstacles. At IVMF, we categorize the success of an ecosystem into lines of growth, including the development and use of social capital. Growing, managing and maintaining business; Identification and development of successful sponsorships; Access to adequate capital; and develop your own business and management skills.
How ecosystems can help seasoned entrepreneurs:
- Community-based learning and support. This can help veterans expand their informal and formal networks by connecting with others.
- Collaboration between veteran and entrepreneurship service organizations. Improved collaboration and coordination between and between services can help veterans identify appropriate support and resources for their business.
- Business-friendly policy. Policies that encourage entrepreneurship have been shown to have positive effects on business ecosystems.
- IInformation on educational resources and programs. Information can help veterans better understand which programs and services are best for them, given the current state of their business (i.e. brainstorming, startup, and growth).
The data also shows the resources seasoned entrepreneurs will need during COVID-19:
- 53% of experienced entrepreneurs used the Payroll Protection Program (PPP).
- 28% required government contract assistance.
- 20% needed emergency funding.
- 56% believe their companies received support from the federal government during the pandemic.
- 60% believe their business was not supported by local governments.
Veterans can find ways to receive this training to maximize their chances of success. For example, here’s what the Syracuse University Veterans and Military Families Institute offers for education and free education. The courses are offered across the country as well as online.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that you are ready for this. Even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, seasoned entrepreneurs continue to demonstrate the resilience that makes seasoned entrepreneurs so successful. 65 percent of seasoned entrepreneurs say their military experience prepared them moderately or extremely for their business challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
You are prepared for it.
– Rosy Maury is Director of Applied Research and Analytics at the IVMF at Syracuse University.
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