Fiscal Management & Budgeting Tips for Veteran Business Owners

Public Administration

After military service, many veterans choose to start their own businesses or nonprofit organizations. With a firm grasp of fiscal management principles, veteran entrepreneurs can enjoy success and financial stability when building their businesses. To learn more, check out the infographic below created by Norwich University’s Online Master of Public Administration program.


Resources and information to help veterans establish a post-military career business

Text: Budgeting Tips for Veteran Business Owner

Veterans’ Financial Well-Being

Though their financial health has improved over the past few years, veterans still struggle in some areas.

How Veterans Fare Financially

In a 2018 survey of 3,000 veterans and 20,000 non-veterans, veterans had less financial anxiety than non-veterans. They also experienced higher financial well-being, a higher level of confidence in financial abilities, and were more likely to use financial technology for planning than non-veterans.

Veterans in 2018 vs. Veterans in 2015

Unfortunately, veterans were doing worse financially in 2018 than three years earlier. For instance, veterans in 2018 were 11% more likely to report high-cost credit card behaviors such as paying late fees or using credit cards for cash advances than in 2015. They were also 28% less likely to be attending a four-year college or university and 11% more likely to report having foregone medical treatment.

On the bright side, veterans in 2018 were less likely to be behind on mortgage payments, struggle with bills, and experience a drop in income in the previous 12 months than their 2015 counterparts. In addition, they were more likely to have retirement savings outside of an employer plan, an emergency fund, and savings in non-retirement accounts.

Challenges to Veterans’ Financial Health

Veterans who are female, younger, married, divorced, separated, or have financial dependents are in worse financial condition than veteran peers who do not fall into these categories.

Factors influencing homelessness and financial stability among veterans include: an extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income, and access to health care; substance abuse; deployment; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and lack of family and social support networks. Other factors are connected to the transition to civilian life, including transferability of skills, potential isolation in the civilian community, and higher levels of unemployment during the first year of transition.

The Path to Financial Well-Being

Veterans can take several steps to achieve and maintain financial skills. First, veterans should find, process, and use relevant financial information. Secondly, they can take action on a daily basis to attain financial stability. Next, this group can identify the objective facts describing their financial life. Finally, they can attain a perceived sense of financial security and freedom of choice.

Entrepreneurship Among Veterans

Veterans face unique challenges on the road to owning and building a business. However, military service helped them to develop skills and values such as leadership, adaptation, discipline, and perseverance, which is a strong advantage for veteran business owners.

Veteran vs. Non-Veteran Business Owners

Between 2010 and 2017, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans to businesses not owned by veterans increased by 82%, compared with 48% to veteran-owned businesses, even with relief programs in place for veterans. Veteran-owned businesses submit more applications and communicate with large, small, and online banks. They also ask for smaller loans. However, veteran business owners obtain less financing and lower approval rates in addition to struggling with building solid credit or obtaining collateral.

Successful Veteran Entrepreneurs

Air Force veteran Dave Liniger, cofounder of real estate company Re/Max, noted that “The military really gave me the chance to grow up. It was fun. I thought it was a fabulous place. It also taught me self-discipline and a sense of responsibility.”

Marine Corps veteran Frederick Smith who founded the popular shipping company FedEx stated that “Much of our success reflects what I learned as a Marine. The basic principles of leading people are the bedrock of the Corps. I can still recite them from memory and they are firmly embedded in the FedEx culture.”

Marine Corps veteran Bob Parsons who founded internet domain registrar GoDaddy says “I absolutely would not be where I am today without the experiences I had in the Marine Corps.”

Other well-known veteran entrepreneurs include Nike co-founder Phil Knight, Enterprise Rent-A-Car founder Jack Taylor, and Walmart co-Founder Sam Walton. Knight and Walton served in the Army, while Taylor served in the Navy.

Tips and Resources for Fiscal Management and Budgeting

Despite the roadblocks, veteran business owners have access to many resources to help them build and grow a business or nonprofit organization.

Funding Options and Resources for Veteran Entrepreneurs

Grants.Gov and Veteran Entrepreneur Portal provide web tools for veterans to find grants and loans. Local Economic Development Administration (EDA) branches also can offer different resources for veteran business owners. The financial technology company Streetshares provides small-business loans to veterans while the angel investment group Hivers and Strivers support startups operated by the U.S. Military Academy. Some vets also may qualify for 10-year terms on equipment loans, 25-year terms on real estate loans, and reduced fees for larger loans through the SBA Veterans Advantage 7(A) loan.

Veterans should consider different tips when starting a business or nonprofit such as using budgeting software to organize finances, spending less than earnings, limiting debt to income-producing assets, managing risk through income source diversification, and planning for the unexpected with an emergency fund.

Preparing for Success

Proper fiscal management heavily influences a business’s success. Armed with strong financial skills, veterans can confidently pursue their dreams of owning a business or nonprofit organization.


9 Incredibly Successful Companies Founded by Military Veterans, Business Insider

Financial Well-Being of Veterans, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Report on Veteran Business Owners Reveals Opportunity Gap, Experian

Here's How Veterans Stack Up Financially, Compared to Their Non-Veteran Peers, MilitaryTimes

Startup Tips for Veteran Entrepreneurs, Momentum Capital Funding

Background & Statistics, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

10 Basic Principles of Financial Management, Quicken

The 25 Most Famous Veteran Entrepreneurs, Small Business Trends

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