Equipping Michigan’s veterans for small business success

As our nation prepares to celebrate its independence, we also honor the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces. There are currently 21,973,000 veterans nationwide and more than 660,000 of them call Michigan home.

Self-employed veterans

As America’s service men and women make the transition from active duty to civilian life, many also transition to a new career. Though the men and women preparing to make this transition cite finding employment as their most pressing concern, self-employment and small business ownership is becoming an increasingly popular career path for veterans.

Historically, many veterans have gravitated toward positions in public administration. However, as disciplined, decisive, goal-oriented self-starters, veterans possess some of the most important qualities of successful entrepreneurs. About 9 percent of small businesses in the U.S. are veteran owned. These 2.45 million veteran-owned businesses employ more than 5.8 million people, making them a vital part of our economy.

In the private sector workforce, veterans are more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed. Veterans exit the military with experience in management, decision making, accountability and adaptability, equipping them with many of the skills necessary for small business ownership. Self-employment may be the right pursuit for veterans who have limited access to traditional employment or need flexible work schedules or a more accommodating work environment due to a disability or other life circumstances.

Startup training

Within Michigan, a variety of resources are available for veterans interested in owning their own business. The Michigan Small Business Development Center is assisting veterans who want to launch or grow their businesses by offering all of the MI-SBDC business education training courses at no cost. These fundamental courses range from how to start a small business to how to market a small business, including the Venture Start series.

Business plan

Another valuable program is Venture Plan Online, or VPO, an eight-week online training for both startups and existing companies that want to complete an actionable business plan. This program is valued at $450, but is available at no cost to veterans. More than 148 participants have enrolled in the online training this year and 46 percent were veterans. The VPO program has courses beginning August 5th, September 3rd and October 7th.

Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration and Institute for Veterans and Military Families, or IVMF, at Syracuse University are hosting Boots to Business: Reboot, a two-day program for veterans exploring entrepreneurship. Boots to Business: Reboot will be held August 13-14 in Detroit and covers topics like developing a business plan and key steps for evaluating business concepts. Upon completion of the course, veterans will have the tools and resources needed to identify a business opportunity, draft a business plan, connect with local resources and launch their business. Veterans participate at no cost and can register here.

Other resources

Michigan’s vibrant small business community is committed to supporting and encouraging veteran entrepreneurs. For additional resources, visit:

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Hanna Burmeister manages marketing and communication strategies for the statewide network of the Michigan <a href="http://sbdcmichigan.org/">Small Business Development Center</a>, or MI-SBDC, based at GVSU. She promotes the SBDC’s services through written success stories, videography, social media, print and online channels. She is also an active member of the planning committee for Michigan Celebrates Small Business, the state’s yearly small business awards ceremony. Burmeister enjoys using her skills and passion to promote Michigan’s entrepreneurial talent. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and public relations from MSU and an M.P.A. from GVSU.

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