Talk This Week with Veterans Who Own Businesses

By Cindy Bates

I’ve always thought of small-business owners as heroes. They’re the women and men who battle for success despite obstacles, fears, physical challenges and mental exhaustion as they work towards success. As we approach Veterans Day and the end of National Veterans Small Business Week (NVSBW), I want to recognize the unique heroism of America’s veterans who own small businesses.

Veteran-owned businesses contribute more than $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy every year and employ nearly 6 million, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). During their military service, veteran owners learn to be dynamic leaders and tremendous problem-solvers. Those core skills may account for the fact that veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than others. Did you know one in 10 small businesses is veteran-owned? Even the hit TV show “Shark Tank” – which I happen to be a big fan of – is supporting NVSBW by dedicating an episode (Friday, 11/7) exclusively to veteran-owned businesses. 

Microsoft is a proud supporter of veterans and just last year announced a new program to provide software development training and testing to active-duty service members transitioning out of the military. The Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) has had great success in preparing U.S. service members for certification as developers, applications engineers and IT project managers. On November 6, Chris Cortez, the executive sponsor of MSSA and Microsoft’s VP of Military Affairs will be speaking at an event, which you’re invited to attend if you live in the Washington DC area. The breakfast conversation, sponsored by Microsoft and VISA, will feature solutions to help transitioning service members by expanding education and hiring efforts for service members and veterans.

But you don’t need to travel to an event to find veterans who own small businesses. You can turn to Twitter or Facebook to follow the #VetBizWeek hashtag created by the SBA. Posts to this hashtag focus on NVSBW and exchanges around this weeklong event. In addition, the SBA established the #MyVetBiz hashtag for veteran-owned businesses. If you’re a veteran, you can share your stories there. If you’re a supporter of veteran owners, you can congratulate your colleagues and learn from their experiences. Or you can simply tell the world about a vet-owned business in your community.

I had the chance to interact with Tee Rowe, CEO of America’s Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) about how their organization works with veterans. He mentioned programs focused on helping veteran small business owners improve profitability, expand market share, and explore export opportunities.

“America’s veterans are strong contributors to our economy and we are proud to help our Veterans build and grow a thriving business as they transition from military service” he said. “America’s Small Business Development Centers are committed to helping our veterans with targeted training, counseling and mentoring to start and grow a small business.”

In partnership with Microsoft, ASBDC has free on-line training for Veterans and all Small Businesses to become more tech and business Savvy with Global Classroom.  Click here to find out more.

I’ve already begun participating in this week’s dialogue on Twitter. That’s where I discovered the Veteran Owned Business Directory, a free listing of nearly 20,000 businesses owned by veterans. I found the site of Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema that is highlighting a different Arizona veteran-owned business each day. I learned about a seminar sponsored by the city of Palm Bay, Florida, on how to start a veteran-owned business.

Across the country, we’ll find hundreds of resources and stories like these. They can help all of us learn from our nation’s military veterans how to best succeed in business. Visit #VetBizWeek and #MyVetBiz to enlist in the conversation.

Cindy Bates
Vice President,
Microsoft U.S. SMB group

Cindy Bates leads the company’s efforts to help SMBs realize their full potential through the use of technology. This blog is where she shares SMB stories, technology insights, and business strategies for SMBs.We have received permission to repost this blog from the Microsoft Small Business Blog.