According to SBA, or Small Business Administration, it is estimated that there are over 2 million businesses across the United States owned by veterans, and 99.9% of them are categorized as a small business. With an estimated annual payroll of almost $200 billion, veteran-owned businesses give employment opportunities to more than 5 million across the country.
Although veterans sacrifice so much to protect our freedom, they often go unacknowledged after they return back home from military service. But in spite of this, they continue to serve our country as well as the economy by owning small businesses. Veterans display unconditional bravery, patriotism, and never-ending contributions to society, and Small Business Week is the right time to return the favor by supporting veteran-owned businesses. Check out these simple but highly effective tips on how to support our heroes turned entrepreneurs.
Find a veteran-owned small business near you
It’s hard to determine whether a business is being run by a veteran or not – there are no huge signs on the door, specific logo to look for, or distinctive emblems. Luckily online databases and organizations have made it easy to find a veteran-owned business near you. One great resource is BuyVeteran which is a one-stop directory for all veteran-owned businesses operating within the country, and you can narrow it down by location.
According to data from the SBA a vast majority of veteran-owned businesses are:
- In the construction, professional, scientific, and technical industry.
- Small firms with a minimum number of employees, the majority of which have between 1 to 9 employees.
- Owned by men aged 45 to 55.
Buy from veteran-owned businesses
No matter how good their services are, or how great their products perform, the success of veteran-owned businesses, like any company, still lies in the number of sales. If no one will buy their products or services, the likelihood of staying open goes down. Even though your voice will help, the power is still in your wallet. If you truly want to support our veteran business owners, use their services and buy their products.
Aside from keeping their businesses up and running, buying from veteran-owned companies offers a lot of other advantages. Think about this, when sales are constantly increasing, it leads to a stable and strong day to day operations. And when this happens, it drives growth bringing in more jobs to fellow veterans, creating a thriving community. When buying from veteran-owned businesses, remember to:
- Complement their products or services and spread the word to others.
- Make recommendations to your friends and families.
- Do not forget to market their business both online and offline.
A report on the Employment Situation of Veterans released last March by the Bureau of Labor Statics, showed there were 326,000 unemployed veterans as of 2018. More than half of them are aged 25 to 54, 6% are 18 to 24, and the remaining majority are just over 55. One way to support veteran-owned business is to hire them on your own company. In your job openings be sure to advertise that you’re looking to hire veterans since they are known to have great leadership techniques and dependable work ethic.
There are many benefits of hiring veterans in your business. During military training, soldiers are trained to complete hundreds of tasks. Fast, result-driven, and able to follow instructions, veterans know how to use their leadership skills in a wide variety of circumstances. Post job openings online, at job centers, or at job fairs, you can also contact the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) for contracting opportunities between certified veteran-owned businesses and yours.
Share on social media
Another way of supporting veteran-owned businesses is by helping them establish a highly visible online brand identity. Help spread awareness regarding their business through social media and other relevant platforms.
A simple post on Facebook talking about their business is a great way to gain awareness. You could take photos of the store, share the story behind the business, or comment on how great their services are. If you want to take a step further, you could also lend a hand and assist veterans to create their own business pages with few scrolls and clicks.
- Rate their products online, write reviews, and make recommendations.
- Use hashtags when promoting their business on Instagram, Twitter, or FaceBook.
- Create a list of veteran-owned businesses within your area and share it publicly.
Host an event focused on veteran-owned businesses
Last but not least on this list of how to support veteran-owned companies is to host an event. What could be more exciting than seeing a communal get-together of happy business owners talking about their trades and services?
Gather a group of veteran business owners within your area to promote a sense of solidarity. You can even invite other entrepreneurs from your local community to create a healthy and thriving business allegiance. This allows veterans to support each other and work together as one to foster camaraderie. Note that the gathering should have a clear purpose and mission beforehand. Here are some activities and ideas to brighten up the event:
- Organize an assembly or trade fair to showcase veteran businesses.
- Create a meet and great moment with other participants, hosts, and visitors.
- Host an after event parties such as a thank you dinner, sit-down coffee, or recap night.
During this Small Business Week take the opportunity to thank a veteran for their services, not just for protecting our freedom but for their continued contributions to our economy.