Veteran Business Owners and Their Recipe for Success

It’s actually very simple. Whether it’s a small, medium, or large venture, veteran business owners create and share incredible success. They possess the drive, passion, and dedication that every business needs to thrive in today’s ultra-competitive market. Despite (or perhaps because of) the incredible challenges that veterans face when they transition back into civilian life, a large number of them become very successful entrepreneurs upon leaving the military.

Veteran Business Owners have the Qualities Needed to Succeed

And why wouldn’t our vets be successful in their business ventures? At first glance, veterans certainly fit the profile we expect an entrepreneur to have. Although every veteran is different, they do seem to share many qualities with the typical successful business owner. As a rule, they’re intelligent, resourceful, and passionate about everything they do. They’re also dedicated, hardworking, and committed to team success.

veteran business owners

What are veteran business owners? Dedicated, leaders, hard-working, and committed!

An Ideal Fit: Military Vets and The Business World

As we’ll see, veteran business owners are likely to be very successful. But although this is welcome news, it’s not particularly surprising, is it? We can understand the business success of a veteran intuitively, just by comparing the demands of the boardroom and the marketplace to the challenges military personnel face on a daily basis.

It’s also true that military veterans are more likely than the average person to embody the “entrepreneurial spirit” that animates and maintains our nation’s economy. A key ingredient of their success is the team-first mentality that ex-military men and women bring to the commercial world.

However impressive their ventures might be, it’s not particularly surprising that a veteran owned business would prove highly successful. After all, the qualities a good soldier develops while in active service– leadership, ingenuity, poise, and efficiency, for instance– are very similar to the qualities that a successful business owner needs in today’s market.

Now let’s have a look at how our intuitions about veteran business success match up with reality.

The Statistical Context

We can also see evidence of our veteran’s business success at the statistical level. Everywhere you look, the numbers support what we already believe on the basis of our intuition– that veteran business owners consistently find success after they leave the military. Before we get into the details, consider the following statistical context.

The current U.S. population is approximately 320 million people, about 195 million of which are between the ages of 19-65. As of 2015, there about 19 million military vets in the United States.

Of these 19 million vets, approximately 48 percent are between the ages of 18-65. This translates into about 9 million veterans who are still of working age and for whom business ownership is likely. A little basic math will tell you that veterans of working age comprise about 4.6 percent of our total working population.

In other words, about 1 in 20 people of working age in the United States are military veterans. Keep that number in mind as we go forward and you’ll see how perfectly statistics back up what we already think about our veteran’s business acumen.

veteran entrepreneurs

The Numbers That Matter

Now we can get down to the undisputed facts about veteran-owned businesses. Remember, we said earlier that it’s easy to imagine that veterans would make great business owners. Here are just a few of the statistics that support this claim.

  • Out of the approximately 28 million small businesses operating in the U.S., some 4 million of them are owned by military veterans. This means that veterans own and operate over 9 percent of all the small businesses in the United States
  • Veteran-owned businesses in the United States employ approximately 5.8 million people
  • The payrolls of veteran-owned businesses total over $210 billion every year
  • 78 percent of veteran-owned businesses have yearly revenues that exceed $100,000
  • Over 38 percent of these businesses have yearly revenues that exceed $500,000

Next, we’ll illuminate some of these numbers and show just what they reflect about our military veterans.

What These Numbers Actually Mean

So what do all these statistics tell us? First, they tell us that veteran owned business tend to be very successful, with close to 40 percent of them grossing over a half a million dollars a year. These numbers also tell us that veteran-owned businesses employ an extraordinary number of people. They help to support over 5 million American families.

The total payroll of veteran-owned businesses is pretty revealing too. With over $210 billion being paid to 5.8 million employees a year, veteran business owners pay an average annual salary of over $36,000. According to U.S. Census numbers, the median American salary is approximately $30,000 a year.

As you can see, employees of veteran-owned business earn about 20 percent more than the average worker. Not bad, huh? Not only do veteran-owned businesses employ an incredible amount of people, they also pay them a wage that’s far above average. Veterans are good at what they do and good to the people who help them get there.

The Most Interesting Number of Them All?

Now let’s go back to what we said earlier about veterans of working age. The total number of vets in this age group is about 9 million, so we concluded that only 1 in 20 people of working age in the United States were military veterans. Yet despite this small percentage of the overall working population, veterans still own almost 10 percent of the small businesses in the United States.

The upshot of all this is that military veterans are twice as likely to own a small business as non-veterans. Another way to look at it is that 1 in 5 veterans of working age owns a small business. And no matter how you think about them, these numbers can seem incredible and shocking.

woman veteran business owner

Military veterans know when to lead and when to follow. That’s a recipe for success!

But upon further inspection, these numbers aren’t really shocking at all. Although military veterans know when to lead and when to follow, many of them possess an independence of spirit that makes them more likely to assume leadership positions in the civilian world.

More importantly, military vets know how to respond to a variety of situations and apply just the sort of leadership that circumstance demands. This keeps them humble, open-minded, and willing to listen to voices that are “down the chain of command.” It’s this mix of assertiveness and teamwork that leads so many vets into the business world.

Military Vets are a Wise Investment

With all this going for them, it’s easy to see why so many veteran business resources exist. The reasons they exist are pretty simple. Although they’re often much more qualified to run a business than the average person, every entrepreneur needs mentorship, support, and guidance. The only difference is that when you support veteran business owners, you’re more likely to see satisfying returns!

These resources are not forms of charity doled out to veterans for the services they rendered to their country. Our veterans deserve all the support that they need, but these resources are just good business.

An investment in a veteran-owned start-up is an investment in the future of our nation’s economy. Simply put, it’s in our country’s best interest to invest in the leadership potential of our military veterans.

There are no guarantees when it comes to business success, but it’s a self-evident truth that our military vets have the attitude, experience, and dedication necessary to maximize their chances. And we can help them along by seeking out veteran-run businesses and patronizing them whenever possible. You can be assured that this is a win-win proposition.

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National Veterans Foundation

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