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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veterans Day: A time to share the American small business dream

By Dan Danner
For those who serve in America’s armed forces, there can be frightening moments that test their survival skills. But the training they receive prepares them for just such incidents.

However, when they hang up those uniforms and return to civilian life, they are confronted with new and different fears, especially those that come with the challenges of earning a living and supporting their families.

With the drawdown from Iraq scheduled in January, our servicemen and women will return to find that jobs in the private-sector are scarce and the competition severe. As the U.S. unemployment rate hovers above 9 percent, veterans face a daunting workplace environment. Government statistics showed that the unemployment rate last year for veterans who had served in Gulf War Two was 11.5 percent, nearly three points higher than the jobless rate for veterans of all eras.

Although the military makes a concerted effort to aid personnel in making the transition, there is no substitute for real-world experience in the marketplace. As America prepares for Veterans Day, Nov. 11, one of the greatest ways to honor and assist those who have served is by sharing with them the unlimited opportunities that small businesses can offer.

As most entrepreneurs know, starting a small business is a leap of faith that not only demands risk-taking but also hard work and perseverance—three things most veterans know a lot about. It should come as no surprise that, at last count, there were nearly 2.5 million veteran-owned small businesses and another 1.2 million small firms that were 50 percent co-owned by veterans. But many more are needed.

The state of today’s economy appears bleak, but true entrepreneurs know that such downward trends can offer excellent opportunities that inspire creative management strategies which ultimately become competitive advantages.

For small-business owners who appreciate the sacrifices that veterans have made and wish to express their support, there are two paths to consider: mentoring tomorrow’s prospective owners or providing meaningful employment. Either path is a sure step towards boosting the chances of America’s economic recovery for they both offer a close-up view of the American Dream of small business that is accessible to all.

Small-business owners should be mindful of the benefits that veterans’ military experience can offer. Their hands-on training and finely-honed skills have been instilled by experts so there are cost-savings to be enjoyed, but they also have had strong exposure to the tenets of leadership, flexibility, and they respect established procedures and accountability. Not to be overlooked as well are vets’ abilities to work efficiently in a fast-paced environment with a strong sense of safety and property standards.

By re-enlisting veterans, whether as employees or entrepreneurs-in-training, into the nation’s army of can-do small businesses, Main Street can help turn the tide of the great economic struggle we now face. Veterans Day can be more than a brief moment of honor and recognition; it can be a new beginning for those who put their lives on the line for their nation.

-- Danner is president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents 350,000 small-business owners in Washington, D.C. and every state capital.

(Sources: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau, Survey of Business Owners; Advocacy-funded research by Open Blue Solutions, 2007 (www.sba.gov/advo/research/rs291.pdf) and Office of Advocacy. The Small Business Economy (Table A.13, www.sba.gov/advo/research/sbe.html);

BLS release “Employment Situation of Veterans Summary” 10-20-2011)


Comments: 2

At November 12, 2011 at 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I greatly appreciate the above article. We are a small business owner in Hillsdale,Michigan and we are giving our businesses, Vanity Car Wash & Ice Cream store combination. People can purchase a key to use to wash their car, but their name is also entered into the drawing. My point in sharing this with you is that we have people that just want the entry to the drawing but they live too far away to use their key. We selected three nonprofit entities for people to donate keys to if they wish to have someone get the use of the key. It is worth 100.00 of car washing. The American Legion, Post 53 in Hillsdale, Michigan is one of them. I know there are volunteers that drive veterans to appointments and as a token of appreciation we thought the post could let volunteers use the key to wash their car for free.

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