After leaving the military, re-entering the employment search can be daunting. Starting a business can seem even more so. As a former service member, it’s important to remember that your qualifications have changed since you joined the ranks — in fact, you’re now even better prepared to embark on the adventure of starting your own business.
If you have an entrepreneurial bent, there are many grants and finance opportunities specially designed for veterans (Boots to Business and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ Veteran Entrepreneur Portal, for example). But what kind of business should you start?
It’s always best to let your talents and interests guide you, but the following are some business ideas that have a lot of growth potential and are well-suited to people with military skills.
1. Event Security
Events that need security are constantly taking place: concerts, carnivals, award shows, sports competitions, air shows, as well as film, music, and other specialized festivals. While getting your business established initially can be difficult in the event security sector, hard work from the get-go can really pay off. Veterans are especially qualified, since many military jobs share a common goal with event security: protecting civilian lives.
Event security personnel observe and at times report the goings-on at assigned events to ensure the safety of the people who are attending. You’ll need to be prepared to act in unexpected situations as well as respond to emergencies fires or medical crises. After the occurrence of such events, you’ll also be responsible for making sure they’re thoroughly and accurately documented. The physical demands of this job most often include frequent and prolonged standing and walking. You’ll need to meet any necessary state licensing requirements, as well.
2. Disaster Planning and Preparation
Lately it seems like every time you turn on the news, a disaster is taking place somewhere in the world. To mitigate the resulting damage, local governments often hire disaster management specialists. Businesses in this area help governments prepare for and respond to natural and man-made disasters. You’ll review various emergency plans and ensure that they’re put in place to address numerous kinds of emergencies.
Applying for and managing funds for local emergency planning/response is included on the job’s to-do list. Disaster management specialists mainly do their work in office settings, although travel for work also may be necessary. Veterans are a good choice for disaster planning, as their training prepares them to keep cool in high-stress situations. It’s likely that lives will depend on them when emergencies happen.
If you have skills using power tools or heavy equipment, as many vets do, it may be a good option for you to open your own construction business. Construction entrepreneurship can sound intimidating, but once you establish a reputation for treating customers right, calls will begin to roll in. Construction jobs vary, and each comes with a different working environment, so being prepared for the unexpected is a must in this field. Fortunately for veterans, the military usually instills this state of readiness.
To start a business in the construction sector, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED. If you plan on incorporating specialties like welding or plumbing, you’ll likely need to take classes or get a certification to prepare — taking special care to make sure you have the necessary certifications to operate heavy machinery. Also be sure you’re able to meet the physical requirements of construction, as it can be a very physically demanding vocation (usually not a problem for well-conditioned former military members).
4. Personal Training
One famously emphasized factor of military life is keeping the body fit and healthy. If physical fitness is something you’re passionate and knowledgeable about, starting a business as a personal trainer may be the job for you. A personal trainer helps clients identify, meet, and sustain their health and fitness goals through movement and exercise.
As a personal trainer, you’ll devise fitness plans and help clients execute them to reach their physical goals. You’ll organize and maintain client paperwork to keep files readily available. And you’ll also need great people skills to successfully offer clients fitness advice as well as correct them on their form while exercising.
5. Real Estate
Working within the military often instills outstanding interpersonal skills in its members. If you have solid people skills, think about a business in real estate. Real estate agents rent, buy, and sell properties for individual or company clients, negotiating sale/purchase prices with prospective buyers and sellers.
Real estate requires proficiency in a number of areas, but military experiences in multitasking come in handy for veterans in this industry. You’ll do research to ensure that you’re familiar with standard price points for properties in your market. You’ll conduct open houses and place advertisements to make sure your properties are seen by the public, and you’ll accompany prospective buyers on property tours and discuss offer prices with them. Once an offer is accepted, you’ll prepare the paperwork and oversee the document signing and filing with local authorities and lenders.
Logistics management businesses are contracted by companies to manage their inventory and fulfillment processes. Logistics personnel can be responsible for ensuring that a company’s products are ordered responsibly, stored safely and efficiently, and delivered to clients quickly and correctly. People working in this area must be incredibly organized to perform this job successfully, so military discipline comes in handy in logistics. Some contracts in this field may require working long hours, evenings, and weekends.
The prospect of becoming an entrepreneur after leaving the military can be exciting, full of new considerations and requirements to be addressed. These additional tips can help you navigate the process:
- If your new business involves selling things you’ve made or designed yourself, protect yourself and your creations by securing the rights to them.
- Whatever field you choose, relationships with customers and clients are always a key factor. It’s important to understand how to successfully cultivate client connections and nurture those relationships.
- Numerous resources are available to help veterans realize entrepreneurial dreams. Get familiar with the many government, private, and nonprofit organizations that offer grants, advice, training, and connection opportunities for ex-military entrepreneurs.
Jumping back into the job market — and especially creating a business from scratch — can present an intimidating change after leaving the military. However, starting your own business can be a great idea, allowing you to set your own hours and be your own boss. Keep in mind that the military has instilled qualities and skills that equip you for success after your discharge, and you can take those all the way to the bank.