As a military veteran, you understand the importance of dedication, perseverance and teamwork. Although you may never apply these traits to a more honorable mission than serving our country (for which we thank you), these are the same characteristics of a successful business owner. Maybe that’s why nearly 3 million small businesses are owned by American military vets, generate over $1 trillion in annual revenue and represent 10 percent of all U.S. businesses.
One of these enterprising veterans is Del Doddy, who proudly served in the Marine helicopter unit assigned to protect President Jimmy Carter. After being honorably discharged, the Cincinnati native started Perfect Cut Tree Service, a full-service arboricultural company with two locations, one in Ohio and one in Georgia. Like many small business owners, Del faced hardships getting started but persevered. “The Marine Corps gave me the ability to look at challenging circumstances and make something positive out of it,” he says. “I apply this attitude to my business today – it’s all about your mindset and approach.”
When Del wanted to enhance his business with digital marketing, he found a partner who shared his dedication to excellence in Web.com. After building websites for each of his locations, Web.com has helped him enjoy outstanding results. “I now have more customer leads than I can sometimes handle,” he says. “Everyone at Web.com is proactive and made the process easy.”
Like Del, you may have been thinking about turning your dreams into a career but weren’t sure how to take the first step. The good news is that by using your leadership qualities and resourceful thinking, you can establish a veteran-owned business that solves the problems of your target audience. You'll enjoy creating a loyal brand following, having a website that represents your company and owning a successful company you and your family will be proud of.
In gratitude for your years of service, you may be entitled to benefits and incentives to help you on your way. If you fit into the 25 percent of veterans who would like to operate their own small business, here a few veteran-specific benefits, incentives and resources to help you make it happen.
When you’re just getting started on your business path, it’s helpful to have access to wisdom and guidance from others who have shared your dreams and succeeded in business. These proven training programs can help you find your way.
Veteran’s Business Outreach Center (VBOC)
With locations across the U.S., the VBOC can help you get started on your veteran-owned business by providing you with training, mentoring and counseling. They will work with you to determine your talents and expertise, then help you decide on a business path to pursue. You will learn how to write a business plan – the foundation brief that defines your business’s purpose and how your product or service will satisfy customer demand. You will also receive information about domestic and international trade, franchising opportunities and internet marketing.
Boots to Business
This program, offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as part of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) is for veterans interested in becoming entrepreneurs. You will be introduced to the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to launch a business, including steps for developing business concepts, how to create a business plan and information on SBA resources. This two-day program is facilitated by subject matter experts from the SBA and their extensive network of skilled business advisors.
The Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV)
When you’re in the early stages of your business, the EBV program can help you quickly gain traction and take your company to the next level. This three-phase boot camp-style experience helps you learn more about financing, management, marketing and strategic planning and includes a workshop led by top entrepreneurs. By partnering with some of the leading university business schools in the nation, EBV helps veterans like you receive real-world entrepreneurial experience that you can immediately apply to your business.
You have the drive, determination and a clear vision of your business and its objectives. Finding financial resources to help you move forward with your company is the next step. You may qualify for these funding opportunities designed specifically for veterans.
Small Business Veterans Advantage
Available through the SBA, this funding resource is designed specifically for U.S. veterans, reservists, National Guard members, and active-duty military members participating in the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) and spouses. With this program that provides funding for business startup expenses, loans are available up to $5 million for qualified applicants. Discounts are also available on loan fees.
Hivers and Strivers
This investment group provides funding for startup companies that are created by U.S. military academy graduates. Investing in a wide variety of business industries, Hivers and Strivers offers loans up to $1 million for qualified applicants. In addition to loans, this organization provides expert advice during the startup process and will also continue to offer guidance throughout the lifespan of your company.
The Streetshares Foundation
If you are a U.S. veteran or spouse of a vet, you may qualify for business funding from this helpful organization. Each month, the Streetshares Foundation provides grants to companies based on their positive social impact in the communities they serve and the strength of their business ideas. You can also benefit from short- and long-term loans specifically designed for veterans and the needs of small businesses.
The U.S. government awards nearly $20 million a year to companies designated as Veteran Owned Small Businesses. If you have a company that does business with the U.S. government or work with companies that do, a VOSB certification may provide you with leverage during the contract bidding process. By law, the federal government is required to award a percentage of projects to VOSBs.
To be eligible, you must be a veteran who owns 51 percent of the business, control the day-to-day aspects of your business and be the highest-ranking officer in your company. If you qualify, certification may be issued by the SBA or the Veterans Administration (VA). Services such as Federal Award Management Registration can help to guide you through the process.
As your new business idea continues to take shape and moves closer to reality, it pays to explore as much information as possible. From tips on writing a new business plan to obtaining a business license, you will find startup guidance in this eBook that will help you continue to gain positive momentum on the path to being your own boss.
Once you form your company, you’ll want to create an online presence to build brand awareness in the competitive marketplace. Start by securing a domain name and developing a website that is the hub of your business and gives your customers a way to learn more about your products and services anytime, anywhere. Web.com makes it easy with a selection of affordable and easy to use, do-it-yourself (DIY) website packages designed for your needs.
A professional business email address gives you instant credibility and makes it easy to interact with your customers and vendors. Plus, with over 90 percent of customers searching online to find local businesses, search engine optimization (SEO) content on your website makes it easier for customers to find you when they search online directories like Google, Yelp and Bing. Del says he has experienced firsthand the power of SEO strategies. “Web.com has proven that my websites can generate quality leads,” he says. “When customers find my sites, it helps them quickly get to know me and my company and leaves a positive impression.” He adds that Web.com also works with him on his blog content that helps to attract more website visitors and potential customers.
Finally, as we’ve all seen during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, having an eCommerce page on your website is critical to generating revenue even when your store is not open.
It’s a lot to think about, but Web.com makes it easy to find your way online and take big strides toward building your business. Let us know how we can help.
After proudly serving our country, you’re ready to take the next step in your journey and start a veteran-owned business. Accessing these training, funding and online resources will help you find a career worthy of your skills and a business that makes you and your family proud.
At Web.com, we’re always here to serve you – just ask Del. “I would not hesitate to highly recommend Web.com and refer them to other businesses who want to see results,” he says.
Logo: Perfect Cut Tree Service