Veteran-Owned Businesses Are an Economic Powerhouse
August 27, 2019
- Veterans make up nine percent of all business owners in the United States
- One in seven franchises are owned by veterans
- How to support more than 30,000 veteran owned businesses
You know the American Dream well. Come from nothing, work hard, change lives, and make some decent money along the way. That’s what the journey looks like for most of us. But for veterans, the American Dream often looks a little different. They fight for the safety of our country and make plenty of sacrifices along the way, then are left to establish careers after service. In return for their sacrifice, it’s important that we help veterans realize their own American Dream.
Do you know of all the cool businesses veterans have started?
There’s not much veterans CAN’T do after serving in the military. Some go on to become supervisors, software developers, electricians, and even cyber security analysts. Others open a franchise or start their own businesses that employ thousands of other veterans and military family members. The veteran business database highlights over 30,000 companies “owned by veterans, active duty, reservists, service disabled veterans and military spouses.”
Victory Coffee is a veteran-owned and operated coffee distribution company, with a clever logo inspired by Rosie the Riveter. Founded by a former NAVY seal, the company aims to celebrate one of the things that gives military members comfort each day – and that’s drinking a warm cup of coffee.
R. Riveter is a company founded by two military wives, with the goal of helping military spouses find meaningful employment when other companies won’t employ them. R. Riveter sells handbags that are handmade by military spouses. They supported 171 families in 2017, and are committed to putting 33 percent of every dollar they make back into the hands of a military spouse. The company even landed on Inc’s list of fastest growing companies in America.
Veteran-owned success stories have lawmakers on the hill fighting for more support for veterans and their families.
The Veteran Entrepreneurs Act, a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by U.S. Rep Jackie Walorski (R-Ind) and Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif), “would lower up-front costs for veterans opening a franchise by cutting red tape and creating a tax credit to cover 25 percent of initial franchise fees.”
How the Veteran’s Entrepreneurs Act will help more veterans open their own businesses:
- Increase aid the Small Business Administration gives to Veteran Business Development
- Allow the SBA Administrator to offer loans up to $50,000 without requiring collateral
- Create a loan participation program where veterans receive 7(a) loans while paying 50 percent of the fees
- Establish a grant program focused on outreach to the veteran community
We know franchises can be super successful, as you’ve likely witnessed if you’ve ever been at a Chick-fil-a during lunchtime. Lucky for veterans, their experience makes them some of the best candidates for franchise owners around.
As Franchise Help puts it, “the world of franchising represents a marriage between the self-start world of entrepreneurship and the rigorous discipline needed to follow a set of instructions and execute on a proven plan.” Veterans are fully capable of handling the hard work required to open a franchise, but they often have difficulty getting over the financial hump that comes with opening your own business. That’s where the Veteran’s Entrepreneurs Act can help.
What else are we doing to give our veterans a leg up?
The Vet Fran Program provides veterans with valuable resources needed to start a company, including guides to buying a franchise, how to get financing, Small Business Administration resources and a video library. The organization also holds events and presentations around the country, for veterans to come together and support each other and find the assistance they need.
Companies like Dunkin’ Donuts give veterans a 20 percent discount on their initial franchise fee, which could range from $229,000 to $2 million. Expedia CruiseShipCenters offer a 15% discount off the initial franchise fee. UPS takes the cake with a 75 percent discount on the initial application fee and 10 percent off the franchise fee. Out of 4,741 locations, 122 are now owned by veterans. For more, check out ten companies that offer franchise discounts to veterans.
But wait, there’s more. In August 2019, the current administration moved to expedite the process for disabled veterans to get their student loans forgiven. By executive order, the President urged the U.S. Department of Education to notify more than 25,000 eligible veterans about the new loan forgiveness program.
Another recent win for veterans is the MISSION Act, which started going into effect in June 2019. The Act accomplishes one main goal for veteran’s health care access: it “gives the VA what all other major healthcare systems have — a way of referring patients to outside care when needed.” It also adds community care and more urgent care providers to the VA network.
As you can tell, helping our veterans is paying off. Between 2014 and 2018, veteran unemployment dropped from 20 percent to just 12 percent. And according to the ninth annual veterans survey, there has also been an increase in the number of veterans seeking mental health assistance through the VA. Given that veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than vets, these American entrepreneurs could be the key to keeping America’s robust economy growing strong.
The more we help veterans, the more we all benefit.