Every November, the United States observes Veterans Day, honoring veterans both living and deceased who have served in the U.S. armed forces (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard) in times of war or peace.
Veterans Day has historically been celebrated on November 11 since 1978, but there are plenty of ways you can honor those who have served their country beyond that one day and one of them is by making sure they have the ability to support themselves financially when they return from service.
Did you know that veterans are 45% more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans? Some suggest this statistic is due to the transferable entrepreneurial skills service members receive during their time in the armed forces. Discipline, organization and community service – to name a few.
If you’re looking for creative ways to celebrate Veterans Day and beyond, start by supporting veteran-owned businesses. Here are four ways you can do just that.
Gain Awareness of Veteran-Owned Businesses
The number of veteran-owned businesses in the United States has grown to 2.4 million – that’s one business for every ten veterans!
Veterans are likely to return home from their military service and look for ways to contribute to the economy, whether by working at jobs providing a livable wage or starting their own business and employing other veterans.
“For those in our community that volunteered to serve this country, the least we can do is ensure that when they return home they have the ability to find meaningful, living-wage work and can determine what they need and claim it for themselves,” said Jarret Schlaff, co-founder and CEO of Pingree Detroit, a footwear and accessories design and manufacturing brand co-owned by veterans and civilians in Detroit. “For some, that means starting their own business to solve a problem they see.”
The first way you can support veteran-owned businesses is pretty simple: Learn what businesses are out there by doing your research and finding local and national veteran-owned businesses that you can support.
A good resource is Buy Veteran, a website which helps you locate veteran-owned businesses in your area.
Promote Veteran-Owned Businesses on Social Media
Take the next step and share your findings with friends and family on social media. After researching the local veteran-owned businesses in your community, share their businesses on your social profiles.
“Be a good neighbor and celebrate and share the good news of their work and service to their community with those around you and encourage them with your offers of support,” Schlaff added.
If you recently made a purchase or bought a service from a veteran-owned business, post about it online. Rate products, write reviews, post pictures, tag their business on social media – whatever you can do to create awareness of their business and promote it in a positive light.
There are even special hashtags you can use like #buyveteran to connect to other social postings of veteran-owned businesses.
If you want to take a step further, create a comprehensive list of local veteran-owned businesses in your community and share on your neighborhood’s social media pages or community websites.
Buy from Veteran-Owned Businesses
This goes without saying: Buying products or services provided by veteran-owned businesses is the best way to show your support.
Did you know that veteran-owned businesses contribute more than $1 trillion in revenue to the national economy? Buying from veteran-owned businesses not only increases their financial success but allows these businesses to hire more employees, more often than not, fellow veterans.
As there were more than 350,000 unemployed veterans in 2017, your dollars are also helping returning veterans find work with a livable wage.
“Buy local, and proudly support veteran-owned businesses and the advancement of neighborhood resilience,” Schlaff asserted. “The local dollars you direct into these small businesses and the local worker creates a strong ripple effect.”
Nurture Veteran Startups
Maybe in your research of veteran-owned businesses, you find a few startups. Schlaff suggested to reach out to these startups and ask if they need anything to help their business grow. You can also find startups on Bunker Labs.
“Connections and relationships are critical to the success of an emerging or established business,” Schlaff said. “If you learn of a veteran startup, consider reaching out and asking them what they need.”
This can look like:
- Connecting them with mentors within their industry
- Inviting them to speak at or attend local networking events
- Suggesting local pop-up opportunities to promote their products or services
- Introducing them to potential investors (or investing yourself!)
More often than not, veteran-owned businesses are also small businesses, so showing your support to emerging veteran-owned businesses can also boost your local economy and positively impact your community.
It’s all about making connections and tying up any loose ends a starting business might have. If you find a veteran-owned business that shares your industry, consider hosting workshops that allow them to learn the tricks of the trade.
If you’re a business owner yourself, consider partnering with a veteran startup in your community. Create incentives for your customers by offering discounts to those who support local veteran business.
No matter how you show your support of Veterans Day this November, keep the momentum going all year round by supporting veteran-owned businesses in whatever capacity you can.
“Our city, neighborhoods, and we the people will benefit from having more successful small business owners invested in the well-being of our local communities,” Schlaff said.
How do you plan to show your support to veteran-owned businesses? Share your plans in the comments below!
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