- “The skill set that you learn in the military never goes away.” This is just one account from a veteran entrepreneur. In one of the largest efforts of its kind on veteran entrepreneurs, veteran business owners from across the country give in-depth accounts of their motivations, challenges and successes of being a veteran business owner.
- In the first of many publications on veteran entrepreneurship—this report begins to renew a dialogue on the veteran entrepreneurship focused on challenges, motivations, and resources and informs multiple audiences and stakeholders who support veteran entrepreneurs—including educators, trainers, veteran service organizations, entrepreneurship service organizations, and financial supporters.
- Veterans list many reasons for engaging in entrepreneurial activity. Some of the more common reasons are dissatisfaction in the civilian workforce, financial and personal independence, work-life balance and flexibility and recognizing business opportunities. This report shows why they became entrepreneurs, the resources and supports they need to succeed, along with key challenges and barriers that could cause their businesses to end.
- There are hundreds of programs and resources for the veteran entrepreneur, yet, most veterans say they have trouble finding what they need. In this report resources and recommendations are given for the veteran entrepreneur and the veteran service organization along with others serving them.
Veterans have launched businesses at higher rates than civilians for many decades. Just ten years ago, few programs for veterans taught entrepreneurship or provided tools to help them create sustainable businesses. Fast forward to 2017: hundreds of organizations and programs across the country are aimed at propelling veteran entrepreneurs forward, including many accelerators and incubators. Both transitioning service members and veterans now have access to a sea of information on business ideation and creation. Still, despite the proliferation of veteran entrepreneurship programs and services, in recent years, little research has been done on the motivations, challenges, and successes of veteran entrepreneurs. The result is a gap in understanding how to design and deliver effective programs and support for veteran business owners.
Given the changing demographics of veteran entrepreneurs and the increased number of programs and services, it is imperative that research address these gaps and assist organizations that are serving current and aspiring veteran entrepreneurs.
In 2016, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University launched an extensive qualitative research study on the experiences of veteran entrepreneurs, entitled Operation Vetrepreneurship. This exploratory study seeks to better understand veterans’ business journey experience. As a result, this research study spans several areas of the business ownership, including finances, mentorships and networks, educational and learning styles, and challenges/barriers. Through this research study, the IVMF hopes to further inform veteran and entrepreneurship service organizations on factors most influencing veteran entrepreneurs today, particularly related to resources, tools, and trainings.