REPORTING IN, SIR: Should veterans own their own businesses?

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REPORTING IN, SIR: Should veterans own their own businesses?


By Jerry Field


"Reporting in, Sir!" Columnist and Veterans Affairs Editor Jerry Field

“Reporting in, Sir!” Columnist and Veterans Affairs Editor Jerry Field

The decision to work for someone or open your own business is about the third most asked question addressed at job fairs and Veteran’s meetings. This is a difficult decision at best. In running a career opportunity session at some Veteran’s meetings there are several standard questions that need to be answered, as honestly and objectively as possible. First question is how much do to you know about running a business in the industry or service you want to enter. Second, do you have enough financial backing to sustain yourself, your family and the business expenses for a year without a profit? And last but most important is how many years have you been in the field in which you would like to own a business. There is a difference in how many years you’ve been in business and how many years in the specific business you want to own.


It’s not uncommon during this discussion to try and talk the future entrepreneur from risking his savings and those of his investors, or a bank loan if any. And what are the five elements of the plan business plan in writing and can you make a solid presentation to the banks, investors and to your family who need to be very supportive for the next two to three years till your business makes a small profit.


And have you completed a research project, objectively, to determine if what you find today will be valid in a year or two when you open your business. will the target market you are going after still be there when you open your business and is there growth potential? The Small Business Administration offers workshops and some help and often some startup preparedness. It can also help with the four or five part business plan and a final projection of what funds are needed and how the funds will be used and repaid and will the company show a profit with the funding you request.


Seal of the U.S. government’s Small Business Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few key questions most lenders or business managers might ask are: How long have you been in this industry? What training or education do you have to run a multiphase business? Do you have the contacts to have a good supply of raw materials or products? And do you have the sales training and marketing to present your product or services to the marketplace; And do you really want the pressures and responsibilities of your own business? Or is the alternative of having a steady job with a steady pay check better for you and you family.


This is not to discourage you from opening your own business but to encourage careful thought about your future and what it takes to be a success. Consider about 80% of new businesses fail in the first two to three years. This article is not to discourage, but to prepare and make a future owner completely aware of the know-how, devotion and dedication its takes to own and run your own business, and make a profit.


FOLLOW UP TO COLLEGE COSTS: It’s not embarrassing to ask the college admission officer if you are getting the best tuition rate offered to residents of Illinois who are Veterans or are you getting “in-district” tuition at a community college. Many of the GI Bill programs differ in what total funds are available under the various GI Bill programs. It’s your education fund, using it wisely is the first step toward success.


Attend a few of the hundreds of 4th of July celebrations this week-end.  When you see a Veteran, thank him or her for their service. You’ll both feel good.

(Jerry Field is an award winning Chicago writer and former military veteran. Email him at [email protected].)


Jerry Field

Veteran's Affairs Editor at Illinois News Online
Jerry Field is an award winning Chicago writer and former military veteran. Email him at [email protected]