As Canadians take time today to recognize the contributions of our military service members past and present, many small businesses are faced with a decision: open for business as usual, or close their doors in respect for the occasion and all that it symbolizes? There are certainly reasons to advocate for both courses of action: however, consider that remaining active can, in and of itself, be a form of support and respect. Increasing numbers of businesses are themselves being run by the current generation of veterans. Their continued growth and operation shows how the value of service can extend into civilian life. According to the Canada Small Business Administration, nine per cent of small businesses, or 2.45 million, are owned by veterans.
Many veterans of the Canadian Forces are themselves able to make the transition back to civilian life as entrepreneurs and the owners of small businesses. In addition to nonprofit and mentorship-focused organizations for veterans, private sector and financial companies have a major role to play in this transition. As identified in a 2012 study by Athabasca University graduate student Todd Somerville, an increasing amount of resources are available for aspiring entrepreneurs and potential small business owners; however, none were identified that specifically cater to the military community and transitioning veterans. Somerville cites an example wherein it is supported that “properly framing [military] skill sets upon transition to civilian life can lead to tremendous success in the business world.”
Civilian and veteran-owned small businesses face similar requirements in the long run: the need for mentorship, access to capital, networking and partnership with functional specialists such as accountants, legal professionals, etc. However, unique considerations must also be made, such as the continued commitment of resources to formalized courses and avenues of skills conversion from service to civilian life.
Take the time today to show your respect to our country’s servicemen and women, but realize also their continued relevance, value and the importance of their contributions to the Canadian small business workplace.