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As a former member of the military, you know the meaning of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice — all of which are traits you need to succeed as a small business owner. Even though you already have these essential skills, you may still have questions about how to get started and how to help your business thrive. Because your service deserves support and success, here are a few helpful answers and resources below.
Do I need a business degree?
Technically, you don’t need a degree to run a successful business. However, having one can help. When you complete a business degree, you also pick up some valuable skills and lessons needed to help a small business thrive. You’ll also build on any service experiences that may be useful for your business, which could be reasons enough to enroll.
Here’s a great tip: You can take classes online. Online business degree programs offer the same courses as traditional ones, so whether you want to learn more about business management, leadership, or marketing, you can do so at your own pace and on your own time.
What about the cost of tuition?
Yes, you should take the cost of college classes into serious consideration when deciding whether to proceed. If you’re a veteran, however, you should also dig into VA benefits, scholarships, and other programs that will help pay for your education expenses. You may end up graduating with little to no debt, which will give you more freedom and resources to devote to your business.
If you do need to take out loans, also keep in mind that there are some pretty savvy tricks for paying them off quickly. First of all, if you use your degree to open a business that provides a public service, you may be eligible to have your student debt canceled. Since this is rare for business owners, you should also look into refinancing and budgeting to pay off loans faster.
Do I need a formal business plan?
This question also inspires debate in the business world. That may be because there are so many successful entrepreneurs who have climbed to the top without a business plan. You should keep in mind that these are exceptions to the rule and that having a plan is strongly recommended for most aspiring small business owners. Think of it as a roadmap to success.
It’s also worth mentioning that you will likely need a business plan to qualify for special funding through the SBA’s program for veterans. There are several loan programs and types available, and the following individuals can apply:
Veterans who have been honorably discharged.
Veterans with service-related disabilities.
Active-duty service members who are eligible for TAP.
Active reservist members and/or National Guard members
Spouses of any veteran, active duty service member, reservist, National Guard member.
What businesses should I consider?
You may want to start by determining your reasons for starting a small business in the first place. Are you simply looking to supplement the income of an existing job? If so, then there are several side gig businesses you could consider.
There’s also nothing wrong with pursuing your passions with your new small business. For instance, if you have a love of the great outdoors and survival skills leftover from the military, you could start a business that takes people on wilderness adventures. This is actually a very popular business and one that you may be well-suited to run! 49 other business ideas will let you capitalize off of your love of nature.
Another popular choice for veteran entrepreneurs is franchising. With a franchise, you can either operate on your own under a well-known business name or you can get guidance, resources, and help along the way. Many corporations offer special incentives for veterans, but do your homework before investing so you can avoid losing some serious money.
Okay, but what about the recession?
Veteran or not, you can’t think about business without also thinking about the current economic recession. Although we all expected it, the recession officially started in the summer of 2020, and experts aren’t exactly sure when the US economy will recover. You can keep tabs on the latest financial news via Sophisticated Investor, but you should also note that this recession isn’t necessarily bad news for your own business.
Several sectors have been thriving over the last few months, and these small businesses will continue to prosper in the coming months and years. This means that if you use your SBA and business funding to open up a delivery, cleaning, or meal prep service, you shouldn’t have to stress about whether you will make it. Fitness businesses are booming, as well.
What else do I need to know?
Honestly, there’s more to operating a successful business than a single blog post can accommodate. This is why you should also do your own research to find guides and resources that are available to help veteran small business owners achieve their entrepreneurial goals. There are also additional funding and financial resources that may prove helpful to you.
You already have what it takes to be your own boss, so expand on those skills by tapping into the expert-backed resources and tips provided in this guide. Use them to explore your entrepreneurial options, and then decide which path you will take into the business world.
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Written by Sarah Bull
Sarah Bull is a single mom of two, an entrepreneur, and a penny pincher. She is the creator of Economymom.com, where she shares tips and tricks about growing a home-based business. She hopes to inspire her readers, especially fellow moms, to take their earning destinies into their own hands using her career and money-making advice."