Last night I went out to dinner with my family, and the restaurant we visited was unusually packed. When I asked the waitress what was up, she said that the restaurant was giving out a free dinner to all veterans this month in honor of both their service and the upcoming Veteran’s Day holiday on November 11.
We were happy to wait.
It reminded me of a great story I heard a few years ago about a sergeant named Robbie Doughty. Doughty was 32 when he lost both legs in a bomb blast in Iraq. USA TODAY did a story about the sergeant and soon after he received a phone call from Michael Ilitch, the owner of the Little Caesars Pizza chain (and the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings.) Ilitch just wanted to thank Doughty for his service, but the call ended with Ilitch offering Doughty his own Little Caesars Pizza franchise. Today, Doughty is a successful entrepreneur in his hometown in Kentucky.
It’s not surprising that entrepreneurship resonated with Doughty. Indeed, if you think about it, there are many reasons why veterans make great entrepreneurs, and why almost 10% of all small businesses are veteran-owned:
- Vets understand the idea of teamwork and uniting behind a bigger mission
- They not only take direction well, they are also well-versed in leadership
- Creatively solving the problem is what they do
Given this, and the fact there are so many veterans since 9/11, I am happy to report there are a lot of great programs designed to help veterans start and grow their own businesses.
The Small Business Administration: The SBA has a lot of resources for the veteran small business entrepreneur. For example, the SBA has a program called Operation Boots to Business. The program’s goal is to provide business training to military service personnel who are in transition to civilian life.
Another great SBA program is the Veterans Business Outreach Center. The VBOC is a “one-stop-shop for transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses looking to start, purchase, or grow a business. Located nationwide, VBOCs provide transition assistance programs such as training, counseling and mentoring, and resource referrals.”
The Veterans Administration, Veteran Entrepreneur Portal: Part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, this site offers a plethora of programs to help veteran entrepreneurs, everything from starting to financing to growing a business.
The National Veteran Owned Business Association: NaVOBA is a private, non-profit association that acts as a gathering place and resource for veteran small business owners.
The V-Wise IGNITE Program: IGNITE is operated by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) and the SBA. Designed especially for female veterans, IGNITE is a one-day entrepreneurship training event offered in cities across the country.
The program is open to women veterans, active duty service women, and women military spouses/life-partners interested in small business ownership. The program features nationally acclaimed speakers, expert instructors, local and military friendly business resource providers, and successful veteran women and military spouse entrepreneurs.
On this Veteran’s Day, it is great to see that “thank you for your service” is not just a phrase, but is being backed up by so many great organizations looking to help veterans transition into small business ownership.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success.© Steven D. Strauss
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