The military is like a boot camp for entrepreneurs. You get to learn essential entrepreneurial skills, such as leadership, teamwork, and discipline (to name a few) that stay with you even after your discharge. It’s no wonder then that, according to these statistics, 7.5% of U.S. employer firms are owned by military veterans. Yet, with so many different industries to choose from, which ones do you pick? If you haven’t figured this one out already, here are some five clever business ideas to get you started.
If you’ve been in the military, chances are you know how to operate heavy machinery, and other power tools, which is essential for this line of work. What’s more, the job itself can be physically demanding at times which may deter some entrepreneurs out there, but not hardy veterans such as yourself. Yet, having the required skillset and being in peak physical condition is not enough to launch your own construction business. What you need is some written proof (a license or certificate) of your building prowess; especially so if you plan on dealing with plumbing or welding of any kind. Therefore, you need to make sure you attend all the necessary classes and courses— a high school diploma or GED might also be required — to obtain a valid construction license for your new business.
Franchising is yet another way veterans can get into the entrepreneurial business. The reason why it’s so appealing to veterans is because it’s, in essence, a reflection of the military chain-of-command. You don’t have to worry about all the minute tactics and strategies, as the franchisor already provides you with a solid business plan and a working business model — as well as administrative assistance and ongoing training and support — so you just have to carry them out to the best of your abilities. Especially in the cleaning industry, there are veteran franchise opportunities with discounts and other benefits to military veterans. What’s more, this industry in particular is constantly growing, as there will always be a need for daily cleaning and maintenance of new office spaces, hospitals, government buildings, and so on.
If you’re more of a people person, then you’re probably nostalgic for that acute sense of camaraderie you shared with your fellow soldiers. Fear not, for there’s plenty of opportunity within the real estate business for making interesting new contacts and relationships, should you go down that road. Additionally, as a real estate agent you’ll be able to put those interpersonal skills to good use when dealing with prospective clients, companies, and other agents. But first, you need to brief yourself about the industry standards (prices, market demand, common industry practices, etc.) before venturing forth. Once you have the intel in hand, you can use your tactical mastery to create potent strategies for your business; for example: online and offline marketing campaigns, property tours, effective handling of paperwork and local authorities, and so on.
According to our list, and the U.S. Department of Commerce, retail takes fourth place in terms of industry popularity amid veteran entrepreneurs; rightfully so. Namely, retail presents veterans a unique opportunity to serve their country a second time, even after retiring from the military. For instance, the coffee brand Lock N Load Java contributes $1 to military charities after each order to support troops still in active duty. Moreover, this “by veterans, for veterans” selling proposition also helps with the rallying of new (patriotic) customers to your budding business. Plus, starting a retail business with military-themed products and services makes perfect sense for a military veteran. For instance, RallyPoint is a network where over 1 million current, and former, members of the U.S. military come to talk about their life within the military, their transition to civilian life, job opportunities, education, and so on.
Working in the logistics management sector requires adherence to strict deadlines and supply chain regulations, which makes ex-military personnel — especially those with experience in administrative duties — prime candidates for this type of business. On occasions you’ll need to work during the evenings, even weekends, often long hours with no room for error. As a result, this kind of punctuality demands some good ol’ fashioned ‘military discipline’ to assure that everything is going according to schedule. Now, if you prove to be a reliable supplier, offers and contracts will start pouring in, making this an extremely lucrative business prospect indeed. After all, it’s all about providing exceptional customer support (and services); a happy customer is a returning customer.
You’re in the entrepreneurial business now, so get used to it. Conduct some thorough market research, snoop around the competition, and get your bearings in general. Always remember your training, and use that vast military experience as a competitive advantage over your disorderly opponents; divide and conquer. Rinse and repeat.
This guest post was graciously provided by Robert Clayton. Robert is a blogger with a degree in engineering based in Sydney. His interests and passions include DIY, green technologies and home improvement. He also loves good food, music, dogs and enjoys spending time by the ocean. He’s a regular contributor for Smooth Decorator, An Australian Home improvement website.