When transitioning out, veterans have three paths they can follow. They can get more a job, they can get more training or education with their benefits or they can start their own business. Sarah Needlman of Corporate Intelligence indicates that more veterans are choosing entrepreneurship.
Last year, 7.1% of veteran business owners were under the age of 35, up from 4.6% in 2008, according to a brief released Friday by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy.
The weak job market may be partly accountable for the trend. The nation’s unemployment rate has remained above 7% since November 2008.
Another driving force may be the growing list of franchise companies that offer former service men and women discounts on startup fees, including 7-Eleven, Tim Horton’s. and Aamco Transmissions, to name a few.
But the biggest factor is likely the increasing number of entrepreneurship-training programs for military veterans. “It’s only been within the last three to four years that we’ve really focused at the point of transition from military to civilian life on educating service members about business ownership,” says Mike Haynie, executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. “The traditional model was get a job or go to school.”
Syracuse’s Whitman School of Management has launched three entrepreneurship programs for military veterans since 2007, plus a fourth for caretakers of disabled vets. Last year, the school partnered with the SBA to develop Boots to Business, an educational initiative that takes place on military bases. Syracuse also teamed up with Google Inc. last year to create VetNet, an online platform with tools and resources for helping veterans start businesses.
Former U.S. Marines Johnny Morris and Brad Lang participated in Syracuse’s program for disabled vets during the summer of 2012. It included a one-month long online course and a nine-day boot camp at the university’s Syracuse, N.Y. campus. The duo, who met five years earlier when they were deployed to the same bomb-disposal unit, used the lessons they learned to help them build Stumpies Custom Guns Inc., a maker and retailer of firearms such as pistols, rifles and shotguns in Swansboro, N.C.
Messrs. Morris and Lang decided to start the business while recovering from battle wounds they incurred while on second tours in Afghanistan. Mr. Morris lost one of his legs and Mr. Lang lost both.
Serving in the U.S. military prepared them for a post-service life as entrepreneurs. “You learn to fend for yourself,” says Mr. Morris, 27 years old. “You’re in charge of your own destiny, much like running a business.”
Both men joined the Marines straight out of school – high school for Mr. Morris, and college for Mr. Lang, who is 28. They didn’t want to apply for jobs after their service ended, in part because they no longer wanted to have to follow orders.
“In the Marines, you do what you’re told, when you’re told and you don’t ask questions,” says Mr. Morris. “We got tired of working for the man. So we went to work for the dude.”
Go to www.TADPGS.com to view our job openings and join our LinkedIn group, Veterans Hiring Solutions for Veterans and Companies at http://linkd.in/Sg346w. If you have specific questions about issues affecting you, your benefits, your dependents etc., feel free to send them to me personally at Ben.Marich@Adeccona.com, and I will try to help you.