“During National Veterans and Military Families Month, we recognize that our military and veteran families answer our Nation’s call to duty, and we recommit to doing right by their service and sacrifice.”
(National Veterans and Military Families Month, 2023 White House Proclamation)
Our programs (ND SBDC, VBOC of the Dakotas, and ND APEX Accelerator) often interact with our veterans and military spouses during their transition to civilian life and their journey into entrepreneurship. The significant and valuable contributions of veteran entrepreneurs (VETpreneurs) and military spouses to our regional economy, specifically the small business sector, should not be overlooked.
If you aren’t familiar with working with your local military community, it is a vibrant and engaged group willing to dive in and get things done! Veterans bring a unique set of skills and experiences to the world of entrepreneurship. Their military training instills discipline, leadership, and problem-solving skills that are invaluable in the business world. Veterans are natural risk-takers, accustomed to operating under pressure, and have a strong sense of duty and commitment.
Military spouses are often unsung heroes. These resilient and adaptable individuals are accustomed to frequent relocations and deployments, often making it challenging to maintain traditional careers, leading many to seek entrepreneurial opportunities.
Both VETpreneurs and military spouses are accustomed to dealing with uncertainty and change. These qualities make them highly adaptable in the business world, allowing them to pivot, innovate, and thrive. Recent growth in remote work and e-commerce has provided flexibility and opportunity, leading to the rise of successful online businesses, consultancy services, and freelance work, especially attractive to VETpreneurs and military spouses. We all recognize the importance of networks and connections in making a small business successful, and the military is built on the foundation of being a tightly-knit community that offers support and mentorship. This network fosters collaboration and provides instrumental guidance to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Supporting veteran entrepreneurship is not only a way to help veterans successfully reintegrate into civilian life but also a means of boosting local economies and fostering innovation. As they create and expand businesses, veterans provide job opportunities and drive economic growth and diversity in our communities.
- Veteran-owned businesses had an estimated $926.7 billion in receipts, 3.6 million employees, and $176.6 billion in annual payroll (U.S. Census Bureau)
- Veteran businesses accounted for 5.6% of all businesses in 2020
- Every year, about 200,000 active-duty members detach from the military to join the community of American veterans
- Veterans are more likely than non-veterans to be self-employed (SBA Office of Advocacy)
- States with the highest share of businesses owned by veterans were Virginia, Maine, Alabama, South Carolina, and South Dakota (South Dakota is served by our VBOC of the Dakotas!)
As we celebrate National Veterans and Military Families Month, let us not forget the many contributions of our active servicemembers, veterans, and military families to North and South Dakota. These individuals (and their military installations) are essential to the economic growth and vibrancy of the region. By recognizing their roles, providing resources, and supporting their endeavors, we can empower them to succeed. Supporting these dedicated individuals in their civilian lives is a testament to our commitment to honoring and assisting our nation’s heroes in their post-military journeys.
Help us continue empowering these heroes. For more information about local entrepreneurship and business support services for members of the military community, reach out to:
- VBOC of the Dakotas
- ND SBDC
- ND APEX Accelerator (veteran-specific opportunities in the government contracting marketplace, VBE, SDVBE certifications)
- Or visit partner resources, including SBA’s Office of Veteran Business Development, USDA Veteran & Entrepreneurship Resources, ND Cares, or our VA Office.
Tiffany Ford, State Director
And all the Staff of the ND Small Business Development Network