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Women Veterans March Into Business Ownership

soldier . / Credit: Female Soldier Image via Shutterstock

Going into business can help military veterans ease back into civilian life. That applies to women as well as men, new research has found. In a survey of 800 female business owners with military experience, nearly half (46 percent) said owning their own business has helped their transition to civilian life.

Most of those women also credited their time in the military for inspiring them to start a business. Fifty-five percent of respondents said leadership in the military inspired them to become a small business owner.

Other responses showed that owning a small business held the same appeal and challenges to women vets as to anyone else.

A majority of female veteran business owners (56 percent) said they started a business so they could be their own boss. Respondents also said they started their own business for the flexible hours, economic considerations and the desire to make a difference.

One in four respondents said she wanted to start a business because she had a good idea for one.  

The female veterans encountered the same challenges as other owners of small businesses. In particular, 46 percent of respondents said they do not have a business plan in place for the next two years. Respondents said that securing new customers and gaining capital were also among their top challenges in growing a business.

One program helping female vets overcome their business woes is the Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC) which was created by a partnership between Capital One and Count Me In for Women's Economic Independence, a not-for-profit organization that provides resources to women business owners. The WVEC is a training program for small business women who are veterans or spouses of veterans, to help grow their business.   

Capital One has donated $800,000 and services to the WVEC program. "We're proud to support our service members who are looking for ways to translate their unique skill sets into the civilian work force," said John Finneran, Capital One general counsel. "Starting a business is a challenging prospect for any entrepreneur. We are committed to doing our part to help women veteran business owners succeed and watch their businesses grow. It’s important not only for the women business owners themselves, but their families and the communities their businesses serve."

Count Me In and Capital One announced a conference and business plan competition, to be held next spring as a WVEC activity. The event will be held in McLean, Va., on April 29-30 and will include panels and workshops. For more information people can visit the WVEC website

"The energy and motivation that women veterans bring to their business ventures is unmatched, and we are very excited to use our experience helping women reach their entrepreneurial potential to help this important  – and growing  – group of new entrepreneurs," said Nell Merlino, founder and president of Count Me In. "With Capital One’s help, WVEC will provide women veteran business owners with the direct training and the assistance they need to overcome challenges to their continued business growth."

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