“North Carolina currently represents nearly 3% (2.95%) of the total businesses in the United States and 3.44% of the total Veteran-Owned Businesses in the United States.10.56% of the total number of businesses in North Carolina are majority-owned (51%+) by veterans which is nearly 17% (+1.52%) higher than the national state average of 9.04%.”– The Veteran-Owned Business Project
In 2021, CNBC’s list of America’s Top States for Business placed North Carolina at the number two spot, second only to our northern neighbor — Virginia.
North Carolina. Top state for business. Top state for veteran-owned businesses.
How Do Veteran-Owned Businesses Contribute to Our Economy?
Since more than 10% of businesses in NC are veteran-owned, we can say with confidence that those businesses are impacting our economy in a number of ways. They:
- Generate revenue for local economies
- Provide jobs for local and remote workers
- Encourage innovation
- Support other local suppliers in their community
- Provide communities with experienced leaders
“Veteran-owned businesses tend to be very successful, with close to 40 percent of them grossing over a half a million dollars a year. These numbers also tell us that veteran-owned businesses employ an extraordinary number of people. They help to support over 5 million American families.”– National Veterans Foundation
What Industries Include the Most Veteran-Owned Businesses?
Smallbusiness.com lists the industries that include the highest percentage of businesses owned by veterans throughout the US:
- Mining, quarrying, oil and gas – 12.9%
- Finance and insurance – 12.8%
- Transportation and warehousing – 12.1%
- Construction – 11.4%
- Agriculture, forestry and fishing – 11.3%
- Utilities – 10.9%
- Professional, scientific, and technical services – 10.8%
- Manufacturing – 10.2%
These industries represent higher-than-average percentages of veteran owners. When the US Census Bureau released survey results in 2017, 9.1% of businesses in the US had veteran owners. That’s 2.52 million businesses in the U.S. that were majority-owned by veterans. Of those, 442,485 were businesses with employees, and 2.08 million were self-employed veteran businesses.
What Makes Veteran-Owned Businesses Successful?
Veterans bring to the workforce the wealth of experience they gained during their years of service.
Military.com mentions five qualities service members have, including their strengths as team players, their discipline, and the ability to perform well even when they are under intense pressure:
- Teamwork – A built-in requirement of successful military service, effective teamwork demands that service members develop strong trust in the military personnel they work alongside.
- Discipline – Key to a service member’s military accomplishments, discipline is ingrained in every aspect of life and work as an enlisted member of the US military.
- Ability to perform under pressure – Being in the armed forces is one of the most pressure-filled jobs available, and officers often need to make high-stake decisions on the spot. The experience molds veterans into confident decision makers who perform well even when they are under extreme pressure.
- Leadership – Their ability to make those crucial decisions in the moment shapes service members into distinguished leaders set apart by what Military.com calls “a selfless brand of leadership that often inspires hard work and loyalty.”
- Willingness to go above and beyond – When they were active service members, veterans got used to being far away from home, family, and friends. Their willingness to sacrifice the comforts of home is one of their most unique qualities and greatest strengths.
The National Veterans Foundation adds to the list, also reminding us of service members’ leadership skills but also including their poise and efficiency and pointing out that they’re twice as likely as non-veterans to invest in a business of their own.
It makes sense that men and women who’ve developed such strong leadership skills might embark on the adventure into entrepreneurship. And when we look at the qualities of a successful business owner, we can easily see why veterans tend to find success when they embrace entrepreneurship.
Harvard Business School Online created a list of the qualities that successful entrepreneurs tend to have in common. Among them are:
- Curiosity – the desire for new adventures
- Adaptability – the ability to be flexible in changing circumstances
- Decisiveness – the ability to make decisions and not waver
- Team Building – the skills to effectively put a team together and lead them
- Tolerance for Risk Taking – willingness to take chances when necessary for business growth
- Innovation – strategic thinking to meet market demands
Veterans are uniquely qualified to meet these criteria — their thirst for adventure having taken them to the far reaches of the globe, they’ve learned to adapt at the drop of a hat, make decisions under intense pressure, and work well with the team surrounding them.
Service members have also experienced what it means to be resilient, according to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, making them more likely to face failure head on with confidence, willingly risking what’s necessary to get to their desired goal. And the strategic thinking skills they learn in military roles prepares them to meet market demands innovatively.
“[In 2019], veteran-owned businesses had an estimated $963.4 billion in receipts, 4.0 million employees and about $191.6 billion in annual payroll.”– U.S. Census Bureau 2020 Annual Business Survey.
Resources for Veterans Who Want To Start Their Own Business
Recognizing the inarguable success of veteran-owned businesses, North Carolina continues to look for ways to embrace and support the veteran workforce while offering opportunities to put their skills and strengths to good use.
For those interested in starting their own business, many resources exist. Good places to start are the NC District Office of the US Small Business Administration and The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) at Fayetteville State University. The VBOC offers training for service members and their spouses who want to start a small business.
To learn more about how you can support veterans in North Carolina, visit Defense Alliance of North Carolina.