Military Vets Reporting for Entrepreneurial Duties

With Memorial Day on the horizon, now seems an appropriate time to report on a new study out from the SBA’s Office of Advocacy that examined entrepreneurship among military veterans.  Factors Affecting Entrepreneurship among Veterans found that veterans are at least 45 percent more likely, and as much as 88 percent more likely, to be self-employed than civilians who have never served in the military.

“Entrepreneurship is a choice made by many of our men and women in uniform when they move into civilian life,” says Chief Counsel for Advocacy Winslow Sargeant in announcing the study. “Knowing more about the factors behind veterans’ self-employment offers opportunities to lay the groundwork for successful ventures.”

saluting the flag

Veterans with four or fewer years of service were most likely to be self-employed, while career military (five or more years of service) were about 33 percent less likely to be self-employed than those who left after one enlistment. “This result suggests that higher rates of self-employment among veterans may be due to individual characteristics, rather than training, education or other qualities imparted by military service,” the report states.

An exception was found among career military retirees with 20 years or more of service. For this group, the longer they served in the military, the more likely they were to be self-employed. The study authors theorize this might be because they have larger pensions, improving their ability to pursue entrepreneurship. Among military retirees, officers are 55.6 percent more likely than enlisted personnel to be self-employed—probably due to differences in in education level.

Are you a military veteran who owns a business, or is thinking of starting one? There are more sources of support than ever before. Whether you need help starting or growing your company, here are some sites to get you started:

  • The IFA’s VetFran program makes buying a franchise easier to do by offering incentives and discounts for qualified military veterans from participating franchisors.
  • The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program provides training to post-9/11 disabled veterans via on online self-study course and a nine-day residency at a participating university.
  • The SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development helps “veterans, service-disabled veterans, reserve component members, and their dependents or survivors” take full advantage of all the SBA’s programs.
  • The SBA’s Patriot Express loan program provides streamlined and expedited loan procedures for active duty military personnel and veterans.

The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ portal has links, resources and information on starting a business, doing business with the government, getting certified as a veteran-owned business and more.


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

4 Reactions
  1. This is really interesting. I’ve heard a lot about how veterans struggle to get jobs after leaving the service. I wonder if this is, in part, a reason that the vets with fewer years of service are more likely than those with more years of service to start a business? Is it easier for vets with more years in the military to find a job? Great article!

  2. For retired veterans with a pension, that steady income source would take some of the edge off being self-employed. And it doesn’t surprise me that officers are more likely to be entrepreneurs since qualities like decision-making and risk-assessment serve an officer and an entrepreneur equally well.

  3. Thanks, Rieva,

    You and I talk about the topic of Vets going into business for themselves a lot.

    The only caveat for Vets that I’m adding to your post is this one;

    Please make sure you stash enough money away to live on during that tough 1st year as a small business owner. Profits can be scarce early on!

    The Franchise King®

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