“In combat, the only thing you can expect is the unexpected.”
These were the words of a mythical Army football coach in the 1955 Tyrone Power/Maureen O’Hara film The Long Gray Line after the Cadet football team lost a game because the opponent used a surprise strategy.
In military life, the ability to tolerate risk and ambiguity, rapidly adjusting to changing circumstances, is life or death. For the over 21 million veteran-owned small businesses, learning those skills in the service has been vital for bringing their enterprises through COVID-19.
Military vets may have learned how to make intelligent adjustments on the fly while their heart is racing, but it doesn’t make the challenges of being a small business owner during a pandemic any less severe.
The good news is that veteran-owned small businesses have some real advantages they can use to maintain or increase profitability during these tough times. If those edges aren’t being used already, now would be a good time to revisit them.
Get registered as a formal veteran-owned business
As long as you own 51 percent of the company and control day-to-day operations, your business can be classified by the government as veteran-owned. If anything you do involves competing for government contracts, this is a big advantage. Federal law sets aside up to 3 percent of contracts for veteran-owned businesses.
If you aren’t competing for government contracts, this might be a time to revisit this potential new market. Is this an area you can expand your business? Government work isn’t just for the defense industry or highway construction. Public agencies are regularly looking for work in areas like digital marketing, consulting and any other area that a private entity would contract help on.
Advertise that you’re a veteran-owned business
We’re not saying you have to shout it from the rooftops, but even something as basic as a modest sign in your store window can help draw customers to your business. A lot of Americans have rallied to small businesses during the pandemic, going out of their way to support those in their community.
How much more would they do for someone who had gone into the line of fire on behalf of their country? Research shows that 70 percent of Americans are more likely to support a veteran-owned small business.
Tap into support networks
The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) has 22 locations around the country that provide advice, workshops and concrete material assistance for veteran-owned small businesses. Find a location near you and get involved!
Even in good times, your nearest VBOC can provide valuable networking opportunities, a chance to exchange ideas and learn how other business owners are overcoming obstacles.
Today is a challenging time to run a small business. Take advantage of all your resources to make sure your enterprise is still standing at the end of the day.