If there’s one lesson to be learned from this pandemic, it’s that job security as we once knew it in this country is rocky terrain. An article in Harvard Business Review notes that approximately 150 million workers in North America and Western Europe have left the relatively stable confines of organizational life — sometimes by choice, sometimes not — to work as independent contractors. As we move more toward a gig economy and people find themselves furloughed or laid off due to COVID-19, it’s an opportunity for Veterans out there to pivot and consider starting up their own business.
VA disability benefits can be the perfect seed money to make this dream a reality.
A lot of people have an image of entrepreneurs as young guys right out of college. The truth is that male and female Veterans of any age have a lot to bring to the table in terms of grit, determination, and experience that comes from a military background combined with other life and work experiences. These reasons make Veterans excellent candidates to start their own successful businesses. They can create opportunities not only for themselves but for the many Veterans out there who need work.
Whether you are bootstrapping your business all the way or you plan to look for investors, you will need money to keep yourself going, in the beginning, to get things off the ground.
The Tax-Free Club
What gives Veterans an edge?
The IRS website states that under the Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016, Veterans who suffer combat-related injuries and are separated from the military are not to be taxed on the one-time lump-sum disability severance payment they receive from the Department of Defense.
VA Disability Benefits
Disability benefits received from the VA should not be included in your gross income. They are not taxed. Consider this tax-free seed money to start up your business.
Take Advantage of All the Resources Available to You
If you’re looking for some advice and a grasp on some of the business basics, check out online platforms like Udemy. There are some excellent Online entrepreneurship courses to choose from, like The Essential Guide to Entrepreneurship by Guy Kawasaki and Intro to Entrepreneurship: Get Started as an Entrepreneur by Evan Kimbrell.
Small-Business Grants and Resources for Veterans
Veterans have access to grants, special financing opportunities, and resources to help them create and grow a business. This excellent article in Nerdwallet provides information on the Veterans Business Outreach Center Program and a roundup of the best small business loans for Veterans.
Why are Veteran-Owned Businesses a Good Bet?
A recent article in Forbes says that new research from Experian has found that Veterans tend to own and operate businesses with a larger employee base. Veteran-owned businesses also have better longevity and sustainability than non-Veteran-owned companies. (Experian analyzed and compared the credit data of Veteran-owned businesses and non-Veteran-owned businesses from 2015 through July 2019.)
Did you know…
There Are Free Programs to Help Veterans Succeed as Entrepreneurs
We’ve done a little research. There are some excellent free programs that help Veteran entrepreneurs tap into ecosystems that can help them thrive, including:
- Boots to Business
- Veteran Institute for Procurement
- Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV)
- Bunker Labs
- National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP)
This list in Forbes provides links to all these programs.
The Beauty of the Internet
We live in a time where you can start up an online business from just about anywhere and run it 24/7 with no boundaries. Your overhead is lower since you probably won’t need a physical office or store. With the right SEO and a solid marketing strategy, you can gain exposure to millions of potential customers. It is a pretty amazing opportunity.
Many of the world’s household business names are companies founded by Veterans.
These Are Just a Few of the Most Famous Veteran Entrepreneurs:
- Phil Knight – Nike
- Fred Smith – FedEx
- Bob Parsons – GoDaddy
- Catheryne Nicholson — BlockCypher
- Salvatore Defranco — Battle Grounds Coffee
And the list goes on!
Mike Volkin is an inspiring entrepreneur – a Veteran who served overseas in Operation Iraqi & Enduring Freedom, who now is a public speaker and author of 5 books (one bestseller). He has built and sold four companies and is a frequent contributing author to Forbes. As a marketing leader, he helps entrepreneurs launch and scale businesses that maximize freedom with business models and no revenue ceiling. Check out his Freelancer Masterclass to learn to be a successful freelancer working from home and doing what you love.
Don’t leave any money on the table
Are you owed benefits you are not pursuing? Do you have reason to believe your rating is lower than your service-connected conditions warrant?
If there are benefits you medically and ethically qualify for, it’s time you develop the medical evidence necessary to make that a reality.
The rating the VA has assigned to you correlates to the benefit earned. If you are a 100% disabled Veteran getting $3,000 a month. That’s $3,000 that you don’t have to worry about making, and as you save up those benefits, they can be the fuel you need to start your business.
The benefits you earn are a tax-free down payment on starting an exciting new chapter in your life.
So, if calling your own shots, being your own boss, setting your own hours, and maximizing your earning potential appeals to you–in the words of one famous Veteran entrepreneur Phil Knight: Just Do It.