A career in the armed forces makes veterans well suited to own their own business. During their time in the military, most will have developed a broad range of skills and characteristics often attributed to successful business owners; flexibility, leadership, integrity, critical thinking and teamwork are just a few. For this reason, many veterans will seek out startup opportunities when making the transition back to civilian life.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are more than 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses in the United States, accounting for over $1 trillion in annual revenue. And, not only are veterans twice as likely as non-veterans to start a business, but they are also more likely to hire other veterans to work for them—a cycle that can only benefit the American workforce going forward.
Support for veteran business owners leads to new opportunities for success.
As policymakers continue to propose new ways to help veterans establish their place as successful civilian business owners, many legislators are coming forward with innovative strategies to support this initiative. In April of last year, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) presented a simple but practical idea to help veteran startups, and on January 3, 2019 it was signed into law.
The Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act of 2018 gives veteran business owners access to Government Surplus Accounting (GSA) warehouses throughout the country, which are used to store excess office supplies, equipment and furniture that could be helpful in setting up a new business. Duckworth, who served in the U.S. Army, thought of the idea after visiting a GSA to furnish her own office. She decided the resource would also be helpful for veteran small business owners, many of whom are stretched financially.
“I hope that this makes it a little easier for a veteran to start and maintain a business,” Duckworth told Connecting Vets. “So they don't have to spend money buying laptops and furniture and all of those things that take up your capital so you can use that capital to sustain your business. Capital is so important for businesses in the early stages, and I want to promote veterans being able to become entrepreneurs, owning their own businesses, hiring other veterans, and enjoying success. They've earned it.”
Thinking about starting a business and need some supplies?
Veterans interested in taking advantage of the opportunity provided by the Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act can visit the State Agencies for Surplus Property website. Before you do, however, make sure you have the right documentation to provide proof of service. This is a standard requirement for obtaining most veteran benefits and typically involves producing a copy of your DD214, which you should have received upon discharge from the military.
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