You devoted several years of your life to serving your country. Now, you’re transitioning back to civilian life wondering where your next “mission” will take your career. Many military veterans consider entrepreneurial endeavors like small business ownership or franchising. And since you found yourself on the America’s Best Franchises website, you’re probably leaning more to the latter of the two options.
Find Comfort in the Familiar
Franchising is a great business opportunity for transitioning service members and veterans. Those with a military background often boast many of the same skills as successful business owners, including leadership, personnel management, determination, quick problem-solving and more. Even better, several franchises seek military veteran operators to show their support for those who served our great country.
Franchises work like an Operations Order (OPORD); they provide an easy-to-follow protocol and plan for success. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. All you really have to do is follow the plan, which should come naturally, especially since military members have expertise in executing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Helpful Resources to Get You Started
So, where do you start? A great place to feel out your options is VetFran®, a network of more than 650 franchise brands that voluntarily offer financial discounts, mentorship and training for aspiring veteran franchisees and veterans seeking employment.
According to a VetFran survey, since 2011, more than 6,500 veterans have become franchise business owners. You can easily search VetFran franchises here, on America’s Best Franchises website; when searching by industry, select VetFran Franchise Opportunities.
Another great resource to explore is Military Times Best: Franchises, a popular military-focused publication that ranks the top franchises based on their accommodations for service members and veterans. Rankings are based on a rigorous survey using criteria including company culture, performance of franchise units, discounted fees and more.
Financing Your Future as a Business Owner
When choosing a franchise opportunity, an important factor to consider is your budget. Buying into a franchise is not a cheap investment. You need to provide capital for the franchise fee and start-up costs. Low-cost franchise opportunities run under $30,000, while higher investments can run in the millions. Yes, we know the numbers can seem overwhelming but have no fear because there are options for veterans.
The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) has a loan program specifically designed for military veterans, the Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative, a streamlined loan product with enhanced guarantee and interest rate characteristics. This is helpful for veterans because the SBA guarantees up to 85 percent of loans up to $150,000, making it easier to qualify. They also offer far lower interest rates than alternative lenders.
But the SBA isn’t the only way to fund your franchise opportunity; there are plenty of options, including using home equity, borrowing from your 401K, using credit cards or pulling from your savings.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to begin your transition from military member to business owner. Like choosing which military branch to join, choosing the right franchise opportunity for you requires research. Comb through all the “Best Franchises for Veterans” lists from credible sources like Entrepreneur, Business.com and Franchise Business Review. You can even reach out to franchises you’re interested in to get specific information about how they support veterans and military members.