The Benefits of Working at a Veteran-Owned Small BusinessWe published this on August 1, 2016,
Veteran-owned small businesses have a lot to offer, to their customers, their communities, and to prospective employees. Employment at a veteran-owned small business is an excellent opportunity for veteran job-seekers. There are significant tangible and intangible benefits to working at a veteran-owned small business.
Veteran small business entrepreneurs possess strong leadership skills learned during military service. Entrepreneurship requires the ability to build strong teams and transform a vision into reality. Military leaders know how to motivate team members to achieve the mission. They have also been trained in systematic problem-solving processes such as the Army design methodology and the Military Decision-Making Process. While designed for operational and tactical decision-making and problem-solving, these processes are adaptable to business purposes as well. Thinking about problems systematically is a critically useful habit of mind for any entrepreneur. Veteran entrepreneurs are also accustomed to risk, change, and uncertainty. They are resilient, adaptable, and well-equipped to handle unexpected difficulties. In other words, they make great bosses.
Veteran-owned businesses have competitive advantages. Veteran-owned small businesses, especially service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, receive preferences when bidding on Federal and many state government contracts. Because government spending tends to be constant despite national and global economic conditions, small government contracting businesses enjoy a degree of insulation against market fluctuations. Some large companies also seek to partner with veteran-owned small businesses through supplier diversity programs. These preferences can give veteran-owned small business decisive advantages over similarly-situated competitors. Ultimately, veteran-owned small businesses have an overall higher rate of success than other small businesses—meaning your job is likely to be more stable over time.
The company culture in a veteran-owned small business is likely to be veteran-friendly. Many veterans, used to the hierarchical and formal nature of military organizations, face difficulties transitioning to civilian workplaces. It may feel as if your civilian co-workers just don’t get you. In a veteran-owned small business, you know your boss understands your military service. Since veteran employers know and understand the skills military service teaches, they may also be more likely to recruit veteran employees – which means you’re more likely to find yourself among veteran coworkers who also understand the way you think, speak, and act.
When you start a business relationship with someone, you make educated guesses about their values based on their reputation and your first impression. But when you start a relationship with a fellow veteran, you can make assumptions about their values based on your shared experience of military service. These shared values, forged in the crucible of adversity, create instant connections. Members of any cohesive group leverage such connections to gain a head start on the process of developing the trust that is critical to successful business relationships. As an employee of a veteran-owned small business, you become a member of a tightly-knit community with shared values and experiences. You start from a position of trust and mutual respect. You also have access to a network of military veterans with whom you’ve served. You can leverage the relationships in your network to find employment with veteran-owned businesses.
Charlie studies law at Georgetown University. He spent ten years as a United States Army field artillery officer and paratrooper, including service in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is interning this summer at StreetShares, a company that helps fund veteran-owned small businesses by connecting veteran entrepreneurs with investors.