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US Veterans Turn to Entrepreneurship

Mark Marich

A new study by the SBA Office of Advocacy shows that veterans are at least 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than civilians who have never served in the military. While self-employment doesn't necessarily equal entrepreneurship, it is certainly one available measuring stick.

“Entrepreneurship is a choice made by many of our men and women in uniform when they move into civilian life,” said Chief Counsel for Advocacy Winslow Sargeant. “Knowing more about the factors behind veterans’ self-employment offers opportunities to lay the groundwork for successful ventures.”

However, according to the authors of Factors Affecting Entrepreneurship Among Veterans, the increased entrepreneurial activity is more likely a result of "individual characteristics, rather than training, education or other qualities imparted by military service." Not surprisingly, officers are more likely (55.6%) than enlisted personnel to be be self-employed -- attributable to higher education levels and greater financial flexibility provided by larger military pensions.

One other interesting note is that it seems that recent veterans have lower rates of self-employment (3.6%) than their older counterparts who served in World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War (10.6%).

A number of programs are looking to close that gap, like the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program that provides experiential training to post-9/11 veterans disabled as a result of their military service. The program offers an online, self-study course followed by a short “nine-day residency” at one of seven universities:

  • Syracuse University (through the Whitman School of Management)
  • UCLA (through the Anderson School of Management)
  • Florida State University (through the College of Business)
  • Texas A&M (through the Mays Business School)
  • University of Connecticut (through the School of Business)
  • Louisiana State University (through the E.J. Ourso College of Business)
  • Purdue University (through the Krannert School of Management)

Since 2007, 300 US veterans have successfully finished the course.

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