Self-Employment the Logical Fit for Many Returning Veterans

Autonomy and control are two of the key benefits to self-employment that many returning veterans might find attractive, according to Michael Haynie, Director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. In a recent interview on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, Haynie also discussed some of the special employment challenges many vets face that make owning a business of their own a particularly attractive option.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterans have a higher rate of self-employment than do non-veterans. In fact, veterans in the private sector workforce are at least 45 percent more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed, according to a March 2011 study by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy.

The reasons for this are many. While Haynie cites the overall lack of job openings in today’s economic climate as one critical factor, he also emphasizes the fact that veterans face a number of additional and unique challenges that job seekers in the general population do not. For instance, as many as 30% of today’s returning veterans have what would be considered enduring physical and/or mental challenges, which may all but necessitate their choosing self-employment as a means of making a living. Furthermore, the actual job skills veterans learn in the military may or may not readily transfer to the civilian world, making the search for gainful employment all the more difficult.

Fortunately, a number of public- and private-sector organizations are working hard to assist prospective veteran entrepreneurs―now commonly referred to as Vetrepreneurs―in identifying, starting and sustaining their own home-based or other small businesses. These organizations not only recognize the incredible potential of returning veterans―many of whom have demonstrated time and again their incredible leadership skills and exemplary character traits in the heat of battle―but are dedicated to ensuring the general public does as well.

“The report on NPR only serves to emphasize the incredible importance of events like ours, especially for returning veterans who are seeking self-employment options,” said Gary Buterbaugh, host of this year’s Southern California-based Biz@Home Expo. Also sponsored by, the February 2012 event is designed to provide aspiring and existing home-based business owners with the advice, assistance and support they need.

And although events like this are becoming more prevalent with each passing year, they are still all too hard to come by in some areas of the country. Thankfully, for those returning veterans who are searching for a home-based or other small business or franchise opportunity or who want to know more about business ownership in general, as well as funding options, there are a host of more nationally-based resources available to assist them free-of-charge.

Here are some of them:

• U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Center for Veterans Enterprise―provides resource assistance for veterans and service-disabled veterans who are considering starting or expanding a business.

• U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans Business Development―mission is to maximize the availability, applicability and usability of all administration small business programs for Veterans, Service-Disabled Veterans, Reserve Component Members, and their Dependents or Survivors.

• National Veteran Small Business Conference & Expo―held annually; last event was in August of this year, and next event is slated for some time in early summer 2012.

• SCORE Veteran Fast Launch Initiative―dedicated to helping veterans and their families start and grow small businesses.

• International Franchise Association’s VetFran program―helps returning service members access franchise opportunities through training, financial assistance, and industry support.

• U.S. Small Business Administration’s Express Loan program―offers streamlined and expedited loan procedures for particular groups of borrowers, notably active duty military personnel, veterans, and borrowers from distressed communities.

• Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV)―offers cutting edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans with disabilities resulting from their service to our country.