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By Debbie Gregory.

It’s encouraging to see military veterans take advantage of entrepreneurship opportunities available to them, especially when it comes to franchise opportunities. For many, a franchise business offers them the chance to be their own boss, but it comes with an established structure. Someone’s already proven that this works.

According to the International Franchise Association’s VetFran program, approximately 14 percent of franchises are owned by veterans.

Having served, many of these entrepreneurs find that their military experience easily translates into franchise success. Franchisors believe that veterans make for great franchisees for several reasons. Many of the factors that made veterans excel within the military environment make them ideal for franchisees.

The world of franchising represents a marriage between the self-start world of entrepreneurship and the rigorous discipline needed to follow a set of instructions and execute on a proven plan. The ideal franchisee is someone who can take direction and work within guidelines provided by the franchisor, but who can also effectively lead a team and get things done.

Attention to detail, knowledge, and understanding of chain of command and how things work contribute to their success.

Most brands offer a discount to veterans and people with connections to the military, most commonly a markdown on the initial franchise fee, averaging a little more than 18 percent. Discounts are typically restricted to people opening their first franchise.

Veteran-owned franchisees contribute to the economy not only for the franchisee, but also for their fellow veterans: franchisees are 30 percent more likely to hire their fellow veterans than their civilian counterparts.

The largest numbers of veteran-owned franchises are in California, Texas and Florida, which have the first-, second- and fifth-highest military populations.

Remember, doing your homework about the franchise first will help you gain a solid understanding of what to expect as well as the risks that could be involved. With that said, more than 87 percent of veteran-run franchises stayed in business over the past three years.

business ownerBy Debbie Gregory.

Starting a business involves planning, making key financial decisions, and completing a series of legal activities. But for many Veterans, transitioning from service member to CEO may be a more natural path than they might have imagined.

Most experts agree that the two biggest components for Veterans preparing to start their own businesses are choosing the right kind of business for them, and securing capital. They also recommended that aspiring business owners take time to think about where their passion lies.

VetFran Manager George Eldridge encourages Veterans interested in business ownership to do their research and examine all possibilities.

“In the military you think, ‘I can’t fail,’ but sometimes you have to think about the risks you’re getting into and have a balanced expectation when getting into something like this,” he said.

Veterans who are considering franchise ownership may want to start by surfing VetFran’s website. With more than 100 different franchise industries to peruse, there is something for every interest. The most popular franchises are in the food industry, followed by hospitality, home-based businesses, child care and pet care.

Although VetFran does not offer funding, it connects Veterans with funding assistance by working closely with the SBA and lenders within its supplier group.

The SBA offers a checklist for Veterans interested in starting a business. It suggests starting with a business plan, which is like a roadmap to determine your starting point, where you are going, and how to arrive at success through proper planning, preparation and management. The checklist also covers things like licenses, tax ID numbers, taxes, finance, location, etc.

Financing opportunities are plentiful for Veterans. The SBA, through its 68 field offices around the U.S. and 1,000 resource partners, has Veterans Business Outreach Centers around the country offering information on how to gain access to capital.

For Veteran-specific programs, the SBA helps businesses obtain reduced loan fees for any loan under $350,000.

Leveraging Information and Networks to Access Capital (LINC) is an online tool that connects loan seekers and lenders. By answering just a few questions, applicants can reach out to lenders all over the country.

The Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA) is a non-profit business trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and responsible for job generation. That is why VAMBOA provides its members with Business Coaching, Contracting Opportunities, a Blog that provides information, Networking contacts and other resources. Membership is FREE to Veterans. Join Now!

VAMBOA: Ready to Start Your Own Business?: By Debbie Gregory

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