This column is designed to give sound advice on entrepreneurship and business ownership to veterans and their families.
What is the history of Veteran entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship by U.S. military Veterans is a longstanding tradition in America. Following World War II, millions of American military Veterans became business owners. This “greatest generation” sparked an economic boom, and America flourished. In 1945, nearly 49% of all Veterans owned or operated a business—from small manufacturing plants to traditional mom and pop shops on the corner of Main Street. Owning a small business was an integral part of the ethos of the country at the time—the American Dream where freedom included prosperity and success achieved through hard work, in a society with few barriers.
What does it look like today?
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, today, more than 2.5 million businesses are operated by Veterans nationwide—or one in every nine small businesses. Nearly 25% of all returning Afghanistan and Iraq War Veterans have become small business owners. These soldiers possess that same can-do approach to small business ownership that their predecessors did. They have the discipline, drive, leadership and teamwork skills necessary to make them successful entrepreneurs.
How can I learn more about Veteran entrepreneurship?
A great place to start is with the Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) paper, Introduction to Business Ownership. This paper gives an overview of the relationship between military Veterans and entrepreneurship and what Veterans can expect as they transition into life as an entrepreneur.
Mark L. Rockefeller is an entrepreneur, attorney and Veteran. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of StreetShares, a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) small business marketplace lender that provides small business owners with loans backed by qualified retail and institutional investors. Those investors compete in an online auction to fund portions of the requested loan, with StreetShares then combining the lowest bids into a single small business loan. While open to all small business owners, StreetShares is veteran-owned and has a particular focus on funding veteran-owned small businesses.
Have a question? Send them to Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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