Every year, over 200,000 United States veterans return home from combat. If you’re one of those people, you’re likely feeling bittersweet.
On the one hand, returning to civilian life opens doors for your career, but on the other, it’s a huge lifestyle adjustment that will take time. Honestly, it’s enough to make anyone wonder, “what should I do with my life?”
If you’re a calculated risk-taker, entrepreneurship could be your answer. There’s just one problem - you need one of our seven excellent side business ideas for veterans. Let’s dive in.
#1. Open a private security firm
If you make decisions quickly and like working alone, a private security firm is a natural fit for you. As a private security contractor, you’ll be responsible for defusing and deescalating high-risk situations: something that already comes naturally to veterans.
There are two simple ways to get started with private security. You can either contract work from larger security firms or offer your services to malls, businesses, schools, and councils in your area.
#2. Become a franchise owner
Is leading people one of your strengths? Then you’re fit for franchising. Owning a franchise is an easy way to start a retail business (provided you start with some capital, of course).
Unlike new businesses, franchises already have a customer base and a product line when they open, as they leverage the services offered by the parent business. As a fresh franchise owner, all you need to do is manage the business: something your military past has trained you for.
#3. Work as a government contractor
If you’re still interested in government work but want to be involved in a role that extends beyond the office, you should consider a contracting role.
The United States government contracts out enormous amounts of logistics work, including IT work, network security work, and administrative work. The government is mandated to contract out 3% of those services to veterans like you.
If you’re interested in contracting, check out the Small Business Administration’s Boots to Businesses development program.
#4. Get into the personal fitness industry
Very few people leave the military with zero personal fitness knowledge. Just because you no longer serve doesn’t mean your fitness skills are out of date. Leverage those skills, and you can make people fitter while building a business.
There are many ways to start a personal fitness business. You could recruit clients with a letterbox campaign, contract through a private gym, or even create a fitness Instagram to show off your skills. Whichever way you choose, keep it unique to you. People are mostly drawn to personality (though they like muscles, too).
#5. Work as a tech consultant
If you’ve got great tech skills, then you’ve got a golden ticket to a great career as a tech consultant. There are many ways to work as a tech consultant - from doing tech audits to running virtual mentoring programs that let you share your skills with small businesses and teams.
To find your client base, ask yourself two questions:
- What skills do I have?
- Who needs skills?
Once you’ve found your client base, the next steps are straightforward. Simply build your website, put together a pitch that clients can’t resist, work hard and put yourself out there.
#6. Consider health-care advocacy and emergency services
When weighing up potential side business ideas, never discount your experience. As a veteran, you have a unique perspective invaluable to hospitals, universities, and healthcare organizations working with veterans.
If you love working with people, take that knowledge and build a business that teaches organizations how to help. You could even become a consultant for veteran services, helping new and injured veterans navigate through the complexities of post-service life.
Just don’t forget to brush up on those calendar management skills before you start juggling clients.
#7. Become a workplace trainer
As a veteran, you’re likely an expert in managing challenges like work-life balance, changing sleep cycles, and routine shifts. As Americans take over 460 million work trips a year, you could build a business by teaching people how to manage their work lives on the move.
If you love group settings, you could even use your knowledge to help businesses build skills-based Employee Volunteer Programs (EVPs).
Why Veterans are Great at Business
According to the American census, veterans own 7.5% of 5.4 million businesses. The reason for this is simple: the military teaches skills most business owners have to learn the hard way like self-sufficiency, leadership, and the ability to perform under pressure.
If you’ve already got those skills, you’ve got some of what it takes to run a successful business. All you need to do now is take one of these ideas and make it work for you.
We’re here to help you on your journey. Work together with a SCORE mentor today to find the best side business idea for you and get started.
Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association, SCORE.org
Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.