Consumers today are more conscious than ever of their purchasing power. They want to know the story behind a company - how it all began, the faces behind the label, the hardworking employees. That has become just as important as the product or service itself, in influencing consumer choices. Recent studies reveal that today’s shoppers want to support small businesses who share their values, with approximately 86% of shoppers reporting that they would be willing to pay slightly more. They appreciate good customer service, unique products, and a more personal experience. With close to 3 million small businesses in America owned by veterans, the significance of this consumer trend is becoming increasingly apparent.
Leadership, bravery, strength, and commitment are only some of the qualities that describe the men and women in the armed forces. These traits carry over into businesses some veterans establish when they retire from service. Citizens trust their military to protect and serve their country; with 95% of respondents claiming loyalty to a company because they trust it. This is a critical factor in the success of veteran-owned businesses (VOBs). Consumers can have confidence in a VOB for quality products and services because veterans are trained to maintain and uphold high standards. Veterans are deeply appreciative of any opportunities they are given, and that in turn is reflected in their business.
Veterans are 45% more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans, as many aspects of life in the armed forces prepare them for success in the business world. More than that, Jonathan Norton, a former Army Ranger, combat veteran, and founder of RopeSafe USA, believes that veterans are not just strong business owners - they are entrepreneurs. They’re equipped with sharp mental acuity, enabling them to think quickly on their feet, navigate ambiguity, and remain focused on accomplishing their goals. Norton was a range instructor and mountaineering platoon leader at 5th Ranger Training Battalion in Dahlonega, Georgia, who then went on to create his flagship product, RopeSafe. He attributes his entrepreneurial spirit to his training and experiences during his six and a half years of active duty. He has honed a strong problem-solving mentality, which he believes is important in the research and development of any product. Combined with the confidence to take risks and the commitment to see them through, veterans’ have a sense of personal responsibility for their achievements (and those of others). These great strengths propel them towards success as entrepreneurs.
VOBs nonetheless face challenges. According to Lending Times, like any small business, VOBs struggle to secure start-up capital, and, compared to non-VOBs, often have less success with lending opportunities. Despite applying for more loans from a variety of sources, VOBs are granted loans less frequently than non-VBOs, and even when they are accepted for financing, they often receive less funding than they applied for. Veterans also often struggle to find mentorship resources and networking opportunities, says Allen Taylor of the Lending Times.
Consumers can help veteran entrepreneurs overcome these challenges. By shopping with VOBs, consumers can show their gratitude and support for the men and women who have served our nation. Shopping with VOB’s can cause a ripple effect. Veterans tend to hire and work with fellow veterans, and often donate to charities that support an array of veteran-related needs.
Money talks, and sometimes the best way to say “thank you” to a veteran can be as easy as shopping.