• Actionable Small Business Advice for Veterans

    Actionable Small Business Advice for Veterans

    Actionable Small Business Advice for Veterans

    Business ownership might be next on your to-do list after serving in the military, but where to start? Whether this is your first foray into business or you’re returning to a niche or industry post-deployment, there’s a lot to know about launching a company in the current economic climate. Read on to learn about the best ventures for veterans and how to find resources to get your startup off the ground.
    Brainstorm a Brilliant Idea
    You may already have a business idea in mind for your new venture. In that case, it’s time to start sketching out a business plan and uncover the gritty details of obtaining your product or delivering your service. If you’re still undecided on a direction to go with your enterprise, think about first-time entrepreneur paths like:
    Online stores with e-commerce — An online shop means you can cater to customers anywhere in the world, as long as you have a solid product (or product line) to promote.
    Drop shopping — This model allows you to sell a product online without holding physical inventory.
    Service-based companies — Niches from lawncare to house painting are often simple to start up and can grow via word of mouth.
    Social media services — Spending time on social media can be lucrative for many businesses. You can market your ability to create content and connect with audiences as a low-overhead business model.
    Remote work — Nearly any industry experience can convert to an online model. Whether your strengths lie in technical development, communication, or creative design, a virtual business may be an inexpensive startup option.

    Cover Startup Costs in a Snap
    Depending on your business model, startup funds may be a necessity. The good news is that you can find financial support in a range of places, with many unique benefits available for veteran business owners specifically.
    Explore local programs that support veteran startups with financial and other offerings.
    Check out the Small Business Administration’s Patriot Express Loan option to see if you qualify.
    Think about crowdfunding options like Kickstarter for raising funds and community support.
    Of course, you can also explore traditional financing paths for small businesses. However, many veteran programs offer special perks due to your military status, so it’s worth diving into the details.
    Make It Your Own
    There’s no shortage of great business ideas, but part of your business development involves ensuring your concept is original in some way. Branding is a big part of a successful launch because you want customers to recognize your name, logo, and service or product. Your first step is to create a website to showcase your offerings. From there, branching out into social media, online advertising, and blogging are natural next steps in the marketing process. But above all, branding yourself as a veteran-owned business could be crucial for your bottom line.
    You can also qualify for unique benefits as a veteran owner, including the ability to do business with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. You’ll need to apply for verification through the VA. This step opens up the potential for better access to capital, tax relief, priority on contract bids with the federal or state government, and many other benefits. Becoming a registered Veteran-Owned Small Business also means extra support and industry connections to help grow your organization. Not to mention, many consumers prefer to support veteran-owned companies over competitors. That distinction alone could earn you new customers and repeat business.

    Don’t Skirt the Legal Steps
    Business formation is a requirement to cover your legal bases and ensure that your customers see you as a legitimate organization. Luckily, most legal steps are simple enough to handle on your own. Forming a Michigan LLC, for example, is a smart step that helps you earn tax advantages, lessen paperwork requirements, and enhance your organizational flexibility. Check your local rules before setting out. Avoid high fees by filing on your own or via a formation service.
    Also, consider any necessary permits or business licenses required in your area. Many service-based businesses, for example, need a license. But they also require insurance coverage and other paperwork before opening their doors.
    For many veterans, business ownership is a logical next step when re-entering civilian society or jump-starting a sidelined career. With this actionable guide, you now have a solid starting point for picking a lucrative idea for entrepreneurship, plus using your veteran status as a tool for brand-building (and revenue generation).
    For more resources in the service of the citizens of Allendale, MI, explore the Allendale Charter Township website.
    Photo via Unsplash

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