November 11 is Veterans Day and November 1 through 5, 2021, was National Veterans Small Business Week. According to the SBA, veterans own 6.6% of businesses in the U.S. Of these, nearly 338,000 had employees while 1.4 million were non-employees businesses.
Big companies founded by veterans
Some of the best-known companies were started by veterans, including:
- Amway—Jay Van Andel, who served in the Army
- Battle Grounds Coffee—Salvatore Defranco, who served as a Navy Seal
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car—Jack Taylor, who served in the Navy as an aviator, winning two Distinguished Services Crosse and an Air Medal
- Esurance—Chuck Wallace, who graduated from the Air Force Academy
- Famous Brands—Derek Sisson, who served in the Marine Corps
- FedEx—Frederick Smith, who served in the Marine Corps, winning a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts
- GoDaddy—Bob Parsons, who served in the Marine Corps, winning a Purple Heart
- Nike—Phil Knight, who served in the Army and Army Reserve
- Sperry Shoes—Paul A. Sperry, who served in the Navy
Future of entrepreneurship for veterans
According to a report from the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, “Historically, veterans have been more entrepreneurial than non-veterans. …[H]owever, this pattern has reversed for millennial veterans, who were found to be about 2 percentage points less likely to be entrepreneurs than millennial nonveterans.” This may be the result of greater diversity among millennial veterans as well as a higher presence of disability.
Does this mean entrepreneurship among veterans will decline? Not likely. The very qualities that make good military service members also make great entrepreneurs. Bplans lists the following qualities:
With the right training and guidance (listed below), watch the stats on veteran entrepreneurs escalate.
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.
- SBA loans—fee relief, which provides upfront guaranty fees on SBA Express Loans
- 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.
Even if you’re not 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.