Here’s a somewhat staggering stat: More than 70 percent of Americans would rather patronize a veteran-owned business over a comparable civilian-owned company.
That’s according to a study by the National Veteran-Owned Business Association. Granted, this group certainly has a dog in the fight. But the draw and power of military service is undeniable.
Yet, scores of entrepreneurs with a history of military service fail to capitalize on the connection. For some veterans it’s a delicate dance, as they don’t want to seem like they’re trading on their proud service. But there are simple ways that veterans can respectfully reference their military service to help boost their brand and build their business.
Contractors can register with the Department of Veterans Affairs as an official veteran-owned business, which can open the door to a whole new world of governmental contracts. Veterans have to own at least half of the company or its stock and be directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. Those with service-related disabilities can obtain special certifications that opens up an even wider pool of contracting dollars.
Not only can certification result in more business, but veterans will also be eligible for the Patriot Express Loan program, which was created by the United States Small Business Administration in order to provide funding for veterans seeking to start their business. The loans, which can be for amounts up to $500,000, have many uses including real estate purchases, equipment rental or purchases, and working capital.
Embrace the Moniker
Entrepreneurs whose business is far removed from the construction and contracting realms can still find simple ways to tout their service, from the brochures and marketing documents they use to the sign on the door. Don’t be afraid to incorporate the phrase “veteran-owned” throughout those communication channels, from traditional materials to social media.
The reality is that Americans want to frequent these kinds of businesses, especially at a time when the United States is still involved in overseas conflict.
While some veterans are reticent to broadcast their service record to the world for fear of being accused of bragging or “cashing in” on their military service, many tend to find that identifying as a veteran-owned business results in an increase in sales and consumer awareness of their product.
For more information on how to register your business with the Department of Veterans Affairs, check out the Center for Veterans Enterprise.