November 11 is Veterans Day and October 31 through November 4, 2022, was National Veterans Small Business Week. According to the SBA, veterans own 5.6% of businesses in the U.S. There were 1,421,000 nonemployee firms and 1,758,934 employee firms. These figures are roughly in line with the 5.6% of the U.S. population that identify as veterans.
Big companies founded by veterans
The numbers above demonstrate that many veterans start small business. And some of the best-known major corporations were also started by veterans, including:
- Walmart—Sam Walton served in the Army intelligence during World War II
- Amway—Jay Van Andel served in the Army
- RE/MAX—Dave Liniger served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War
- Battle Grounds Coffee—Salvatore Defranco served as a Navy Seal
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car—Jack Taylor served in the Navy as an aviator, winning two Distinguished Services Crosse and an Air Medal
- Esurance—Chuck Wallace graduated from the Air Force Academy
- Famous Brands—Derek Sisson served in the Marine Corps
- FedEx—Frederick Smith served in the Marine Corps, winning a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts
- GoDaddy—Bob Parsons served in the Marine Corps, winning a Purple Heart
- Nike—Phil Knight served in the Army and Army Reserve
- Sperry Shoes—Paul A. Sperry served in the Navy
- ID.me—Blake Hall served in the Army in Iraq, winning 2 Bronze Stars
According to Syracuse University’s D'Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families, veteran entrepreneurs are more likely to own a business than nonveterans, tend to out-earn nonveteran entrepreneurs, and are diverse in age, race/ethnicity, disability, and experiences. What accounts for this success? Perhaps it’s because of qualities developed during their period of service, such as:
I’d add to the list resiliency. Because of the difficulty in starting a business and the ups and downs likely to be experienced, resiliency is vital.
General George S. Patton said: “I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but by how high he bounces when he hits bottom.”
Resources to help veterans in business
If you are a veteran or a spouse of one and want to start a business, take advantage of free programs to help you, including:
- Boots to Business, which is the SBA’s education and training program for service members and their spouses transitioning into business ownership.
- Operation Fund My Biz, which is a small business financing workshop designed for veterans interested in starting a business.
- Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern program (SDVOSBC), which gives procuring agencies the authority to set acquisitions aside for exclusive competition among service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses.
- Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), which is a program providing training and counseling to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard & Reserve members, and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business. The program operates through local organizations, which can be found by zip code.
If you are already a veteran-owned business, consider government contracting opportunities. There is a federal goal for contracting that not less than 3% of the total value of all prime contract and subcontract awards be made to small businesses owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans. Find out eligibility requirements and get government contracting assistance through the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers.
The SBA is launching a veteran-owned small business certification program. The program is expected to launch in January 2023. This will provide for self-certification for veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs), which previously was handed by the VA’s Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE). This certification enables those businesses to qualify for set-aside federal contracting discussed earlier.
At the same time, there will be a one-time, one-year extension to current veteran-owned small businesses verified by the CVE as of January 1, 2023.
Even whether or not you’re a veteran, you can hire one and, perhaps qualify for a federal tax credit. The work opportunity credit allows you to claim a credit for hiring a qualified veteran, with a higher credit amount for one with a service-connected disability.
To all veterans… Thank you for your service.