From Battlefield to Boardroom: A 10-Step Guide to Launching Your Dream Veteran Owned Business

Trading military uniform for loafers or heels, salutes for spreadsheets – transitioning from military service to civilian life can be a thrilling yet daunting adventure. But for those with the entrepreneurial spirit burning bright, it’s also the perfect time to launch your own venture. Owning a small business offers freedom, flexibility, and the chance to build something truly your own. It requires careful planning, dedication, and a systematic approach. 

So, veterans, buckle up for a crash course in turning your military expertise into business success!

Step 1: Find Your North Star (aka-Your Business Idea):

  • Identify your passion: What skills did you hone in the military that could translate into a business? Are you a logistics whiz? A master of communication? A data analysis dynamo? Finding your niche not only fuels your passion but also helps you target the right market. Assess your skills, experience, and passions to determine your potential business ideas.
  • Conduct market research: Don’t jump in blindfolded. Research your target market, identify existing competitors, and pinpoint any gaps you can fill. Is there a demand for your unique skillset or service? To try to understand customer needs, conduct market research interviews with friends and family. This will help you identify any challenges with your idea early. 

Step 2: Craft Your Battle Plan (aka-The Business Plan):

  • Write a business plan: This roadmap will guide your journey. Define your business goals, target audience, marketing strategy, and financial projections. Remember, a solid plan attracts investors, partners, and ultimately, success.
  • Seek funding: Explore your options. Veterans have access to special loans, grants, and programs like the SBA’s Veterans Business Development Center. In addition, Economic Growth Business Incubator (EGBI) has several resources we can share with you to help you source for the best local funding opportunities. If needed, don’t shy away from seeking funding to fuel your growth.

Step 3: Choose a Business Structure and Register Your Business with the Texas Secretary of State (aka-Business Formation):

  • Select a Legal Structure: Choose the most suitable legal structure for your business, such as sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation.
  • Register Your Business: Register your business name and obtain necessary licenses and permits at the federal, state, and local levels. Lastly, apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN): Obtain an EIN from the IRS for tax purposes with the IRS.

Step 4: Set Up Your Operations:

  • Establish Your Workspace: Set up a physical or virtual workspace for your business operations. Procure Equipment and Supplies. Purchase or lease necessary equipment, tools, and supplies to support your business activities.
  • Set up your business accounting and financial systems. Implement accounting software and financial systems to track income, expenses, and financial transactions. This includes opening your business bank account to connect your accounting information.

Step 5: Assemble Your Team:

  • Leverage your network: Your military connections are a treasure trove! Reach out to fellow veterans with business experience, tap into mentorship programs, and build a team of advisors and collaborators.
  • Hire strategically: Surround yourself with talented individuals who complement your skillset. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks and leverage the strengths of your team.

Step 6: Develop Your Brand and Marketing Strategy:

  • Create Your Brand Identity: Develop a strong brand identity, including your logo, website, and marketing materials.
  • Define Your Target Audience: Identify your target customers and develop tailored marketing strategies to reach them.
  • Implement Marketing Tactics: Execute marketing tactics such as digital marketing, social media, networking, and advertising to promote your business.
  • EGBI has resources such as our Marketing Roundtable, Toastmasters, and other marketing support to help you during your business journey.

Step 7: Execute with Precision (aka-Launch Your Business):

  • Start small and scale gradually: Don’t try to conquer the world overnight. Test your concept, refine your offerings, and grow organically based on customer feedback and market demand. You may want to consider having a “soft” launch to gather feedback and make improvements from the onset. Then you can plan an official launch after making any necessary changes based on the outcome of the soft launch.
  • Embrace the power of technology: Utilize tools like project management software, online marketing platforms, and communication apps to streamline your operations and stay ahead of the curve.
  • Monitor and Adapt: Continuously monitor your business performance, gather customer feedback, and make necessary adjustments to improve operations.

Step 8: Manage and Grow Your Business:

  • Provide Excellent Customer Service: Prioritize customer satisfaction and strive to exceed their expectations. After all, your customers are the heart of your business.
  • Manage Finances: Monitor your financial performance, manage cash flow, and make informed financial decisions to ensure business sustainability.
  • Seek Growth Opportunities: Explore opportunities for expansion, diversification, and innovation to grow your business over time.

Step 9: Remember Your Mission (aka-Your Why):

  • Maintain discipline and focus: Military service instilled in you the value of hard work, perseverance, and discipline. Apply those qualities to your business and stay laser-focused on your goals.
  • Never stop learning: The business world is a dynamic battlefield. Stay updated on industry trends, attend workshops, and continuously hone your skills to adapt and thrive.

Step 10: Stay Informed and Seek Support:

  • Stay Educated: Stay updated on industry trends, regulations, and best practices to remain competitive.
  • Join Veteran Entrepreneurial Networks: Connect with other veteran entrepreneurs and business organizations for support, resources, and networking opportunities.
  • Utilize Government Resources: Explore government programs, grants, and resources available specifically for veteran-owned businesses.

Extra Tip: Don’t hesitate to tap into the vast network of resources available to veterans! The Small Business Administration, SCORE, and Veteran Service Organizations offer invaluable support, training, and guidance. EGBI also provides a number of valuable resources for our veteran business owners as well as it is a privilege for us here at EGBI to support our veteran business owners.

Remember, transitioning from military service to business ownership is a marathon, not a sprint. Embrace the challenges, celebrate the wins, and never lose sight of your mission. With your unique skills, unwavering determination, and a well-crafted strategy, you can conquer the entrepreneurial battlefield and build a business as impressive as your military service.

About the Author,

Monica Perras, Army Veteran, Entrepreneur, and Business Coach and Veteran Services Coordinator at Economic Growth Business Incubator is an advocate for veteran and non-veteran small business owners.  With over seven years as a small business owner, Monica works to support aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business, often, many of them being military veterans. If you’re a veteran looking to start or grow your business, reach her at perras@egbi.org for more information.


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