Potential veteran entrepreneurs say they lack access to the types of social capital that help so many other business owners get off the ground, according to the 2020 National Survey of Military Affiliated Entrepreneurs by the Institute of Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.
“Our approach was to be collaborative in nature,” said Rosy Maury, IVMF director of applied research and analytics. “We talked to funders, veteran entrepreneurs and other researchers to answer not only the questions we had but their questions and incorporate that into the survey.”
In its first year, the survey monitors trends in the activities, needs, and economic, social and policy barriers of military-affiliated entrepreneurs throughout the United States.
Mirza Tihic co-led the research through Syracuse’s Whitman School of Management. He said the intent of the survey was to draw a cross-sectional sample of responses from over 2,500 veteran entrepreneurs.
“They have the skills to resolve problems,” he said of veteran entrepreneurs. “They have the skills to collect data in market research and to understand who they are serving.”
The survey asked veteran entrepreneurs about their business interests; access to capital the challenges and barriers they face; and their motivation and aspirations as business owners.
“Because we’re talking about the military-affiliated entrepreneur population, we asked about their service experience and transition,” added Maury.
Forty percent of those who responded to the survey said they lacked formal help to begin a business while 32% said they struggled with a lack of experience or exposure to someone who has run a business.
“Hopefully, the survey will educate future bankers, future case managers, future consultants to understand veterans issues,” said Tihic
The survey also found that veterans faced obstacles in obtaining proper funding, with 34% reporting they had been turned down by a lender or creditor when applying for funding.
Many veteran entrepreneurs reported that it took less than $75,000 to start their own business.
“They are using personal loans and credit cards to start,” said Tihic.
Maury and Tihic said even with the challenges they face in starting their own businesses, 64% of military entrepreneurs said their service “moderately or extremely prepared them” for the business challenges they encountered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Survey results will be put into a forthcoming public database.
Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com
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