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After leaving the military, many veterans find themselves wondering what to do next. Fortunately, ex-servicemen are equipped with several skills that can be translated into the business world, making entrepreneurship a viable option. Here are a few tips to get you started, courtesy of TechPufy.
Types of Businesses Suited to First-Time Entrepreneurs
Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Here are some businesses suited to veterans and first-time business owners.
If you’re good at a particular trade – such as carpentry, plumbing, or auto repair – starting your own service business can be a great way to transition into the civilian workforce. Veterans are often great at multitasking and have the ability to think on their feet – both qualities that are essential in running a successful service business.
Franchises offer you the opportunity to be your own boss while still having the support of an established brand. VetFran provides a helpful directory of franchise options to get you started. There are also special programs and financing options available to veterans interested in purchasing a franchise.
With the rise of the internet, more and more businesses are being conducted online. If you’re comfortable with technology and have a great business idea, starting an online business might be the right option for you.
Basic Tips for Starting a Business
Now that you have an idea of what sort of business you want to start, how do you make that idea into a reality? Here are some important steps to get you started.
Write a Business Plan
This document will outline your business goals, strategies, and how you plan on achieving them. A business plan is essential for securing funding and will keep you on track as you start and grow your business.
Do Market Research
Knowing your target market is critical for any business, but especially important if you’re starting a new business. Take the time to research your industry, your target market, and your competition. This information will be invaluable as you start to market and sell your product or service.
Unless you’re self-funding your business, you’ll need to find sources of funding to get your business off the ground. There are a number of government programs and initiatives available to veterans interested in starting a business. The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) is a great resource for information on financing options for veteran-owned businesses.
Reliant Funding is also dedicated to helping entrepreneurs get the money they need to fund their ideas. You can apply for funding up to $400,000 that can be available in as little as 24 hours. Look into their loans as another potential resource for your new business.
Choose the Right Business Structure
There are several different business structures to choose from, but an LLC offers both simple setup and the most protection for your personal assets. If you’re not sure how to start an LLC, make use of a formation service to avoid hefty lawyer fees.
Connect With Skilled Professionals
When starting a business, it’s important to surround yourself with skilled professionals, like attorneys, accountants, and creative freelancers, who can help you grow and scale your business, and ensure that your practices remain above board. You’ll also find it helpful to make other business contacts; like-minded professionals can inspire you, educate you, and mentor you as your business grows, so be sure to make networking part of your business strategy.
Business Cards Are a Simple Networking Tool
It’s a tried and true method for making connections: a handshake and a contact card. You should invest in professional-looking business cards so that you can network at every opportunity. Fortunately, you don’t have to have a design background or spend a lot of money for impressive business cards. Give this a try. It’s a free tool with plenty of templates that you can edit to match your brand and your business.
Other networking options include things like Meetups, your local chamber of commerce, and industry-focused events.
Get on the Web
These days, a website is a critical part of presenting your business as viable. Thankfully, you can use a website builder to create a professional-looking website. Most employ drag-and-drop functionality. Unless you’re a bit of a guru, avoid making your site too busy or complicated. Keeping it simple and clean-looking is a great way to ensure it’s attractive and user-friendly.
Government Resources for Veteran Entrepreneurs
There are plenty of resources available for veterans like you as you embark on this new adventure. Take advantage of them. You’ve earned it!
Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC)
The VBOC is a nationwide program that provides training and resources to veterans interested in starting or growing a business. VBOC counselors can help you navigate the process of starting a business, from writing a business plan to finding funding.
SBA’s Office of Veterans’ Business Development
This is a great resource for information on government contracting opportunities, financing options, and business counseling services. They also offer a free online training course specifically for veteran entrepreneurs.
Start Your Path to Entrepreneurship
Veterans face unique challenges when transitioning into the civilian workforce, but starting a business can be a great way to leverage your skills and experience. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help you move into entrepreneurship. Lean into simple and effective solutions, like a quality business card and . And with the right planning and support, you can be well on your way to successful business ownership.