5 Tips for Veterans Starting Their Own Business

 “Instead of sinking one’s life savings into building a new customer base, designing the logo, building out the right retail or office space, finding product-market fit, and everything else in between, hopeful entrepreneurs can buy an existing business that has already demonstrated value in the market, which can provide a bit more assurance and stability right off the bat,” Henderson told AARP Veteran Report.

The government can help you

Don’t miss out on government incentives and programs, Henderson said. The Small Business Administration offers a veteran-owned business certification program, which allows small businesses to pursue sole-source and set-aside contracts at the Department of Veterans Affairs under the Vets First program. Some state and local government agencies offer tax incentives to veteran-owned businesses, such as reduced or waived fees and taxes.

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Former U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer John Mahoney, who retired as a captain, founded Chain of Command, where he partners with retiring business owners to continue to grow their companies after they’ve let go of the reins.

“I feel like I have found my purpose: building and leading a team that shares a common mission, solve problems together, cares deeply and serves the community,” he said. “Two of the proudest moments of my life were signing the first paychecks for our team and helping a team member process the paperwork to buy his family’s first home.”

You already trained for this

Former Navy officer Katherine Lynch is head of business operations at Ness, a health and wellness credit card company.

“We learn in the military to have extreme accountability — that’s exactly what you need,” she said. “The same way you led sailors in the Navy, you can lead civilians at a startup.”

Veterans can either follow a preset plan like they did in the military, or pave their own way, Lynch said.

“We are often presented with a playbook in the military — executing that playbook can of course be challenging, but it’s written for you. In startups, you have to create the playbook,” she said. “If you have the passion to help other people through a new business or idea — go for it!”

You should apply for VA health care. This covers preventive care, inpatient hospital services, urgent and emergency care services, mental health services, prescriptions (written by or approved by a VA doctor), routine eye exams and preventive eye care are free. Dental care may be covered, too. 

You can subscribe here to AARP Veteran Report, a free e-newsletter published twice a month. If you have feedback or a story idea then please contact us here.

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