Guest Blogger: Erica Francis
Leaving active duty service is a major life event and one that many veterans follow with another drastic change: business ownership. If you’re planning on jumping headfirst into the uncertain world of entrepreneurship, start here for advice and resources on overcoming potentially detrimental mental health issues, acquiring funding for your newest endeavor, and which jobs allow for time to heal.
Ease of reentry
Reentry into civilian life – or initial adult entry if you’ve been in service since just after high school – isn’t always a smooth transition. 43% of post-9/11 vets say they experienced a traumatic event during combat, 34% of these suffer from PTSD upon discharge.
Veteran’s health issues
According to a 2014 study, 25% of active duty military personnel show evidence of a mental health condition. Aside from PTSD, depression, traumatic brain injury, addiction, and anxiety are all common. Physical injuries, such as missing limbs, also make it difficult to begin again, especially without the support of your unit and commanding officers. The Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit founded after the Sept 11 attacks, offers free mental health and wellness services along with career and benefits counseling for veterans seeking a civilian vocation.
Veterans are a valuable asset in today’s economy. As a veteran of the Armed Forces, you have skills, discipline, and a level of dedication that most civilians can’t replicate. For this reason, vets are in demand at HR offices across the globe. Your first step toward business ownership is to determine which career you want. (If you need a few years of non-military experience under your belt before you take the plunge, you can find information on veteran-friendly jobs, such as police officer and teacher, here.)
When you are ready, the Small Business Administration is a great place to find help writing a business plan, understanding licensing and permit requirements, and getting your finances in order. The SBA provides a comprehensive guide for veterans looking to open a small business. Download it for free here. The SBA offers information specific to women veteran entrepreneurs, too.
Steps to starting your own business
You’ve made it through combat, now it’s time to put your perseverance to the test once again by planning, preparing, and managing your small business.
Step 1: Write a business plan
Include a full company analysis, operation plan, info on management and the amount of funding you’ll need to get started.
Step 2: Find training and career counseling
Even if you think you know what you are doing, you’ll want to actively seek training programs to refresh your memory and enhance your knowledge of your chosen industry.
Step 3: Choose your location
Do you want to open shop in an urban office or cut overhead by establishing a home-based business? Some cities don’t allow commercial operations at home without special permission so consult your local city planning office if you have questions.
Step 4: Acquire funding
You need cold, hard cash to buy equipment and pay employees.
Step 5: Structure your business
Will you be an LLC or a corporation? Many small business owners choose to remain a sole proprietorship. You’ll need to understand the difference.
Step 6: Name your DBA
Pick your “Doing Business As” name to reflect your company’s mission, values, and services. You can always use your own name until you come up with marketing materials.
Step 7: Obtain tax ID
Register your business in your state for your tax ID. You will file for workers comp and disability insurance at this time, too.
Step 8: Get Licensed
If you need a permit, make sure it is in place before you take on your first customer.
Step 9: Know your rights and responsibilities
As an employer, you are in charge of hiring new employees, maintaining employee records, and ensuring a safe workplace. You’ll also need to know when you can refuse service or make changes to your business.
Erica writes for ReadyJob and thrives on helping young people prepare for the working world. She enjoys creating rich job-oriented lesson plans and other educational resources.