When my father returned from his third tour in Vietnam, he remained active military until he could retire. As traumatic as those early years of serving his country were, he knew military life fit him and was proud to continue applying his new-found skills as an aircraft mechanic wherever he was needed. That passion and dedication carried over into his civilian life as well.
Never one to be able to sit still for long, and always eager to make a contribution of some kind, my dad decided to invest in real estate after retirement. It was a career path that surprised us all considering his experience working on anti-submarine warfare helicopters. But, he explained that of all the small business ideas for veterans out there, buying, rehabbing, and reselling homes suited the entrepreneurial side of his personality best—a side that didn’t get expressed very often while he was enlisted. As a result of that decision, my father has been a very happy, and successful, civilian.
Small Business Ideas for Veterans Transitioning into Civilian Life
Unfortunately, not every veteran has a clear idea of what they want to do once they’ve decided to transition back into civilian life. And, deciding whether you should learn a new skill or utilize a set of old ones to set you on a course for success after your service years, can be challenging. For some, it’s downright overwhelming. So, with the help of my dad, who is also now my investing partner, I compiled a short list of business opportunities especially suited for veterans that may help you get happily back on your working feet once you’ve gotten out of the military. Here they are:
- Automotive. If you like to work with your hands and on machinery, whether you repaired military aircraft, handled artillery, or maintained radio operations, there is probably some facet of the automotive industry that will appeal to you. Sure, you can become an auto mechanic and work for a dealer or open your own shop. But, you can also repair broken windshields, offer towing services, provide interior detailing, or replace tires. For some of these options, like working as a mechanic, you may have to seek additional training from a trade school or college. And, for most of them, state certification may be required. But, if being behind a desk is not your thing, and seeing the immediate fruits of your labor is, then helping civilians get around safely in their vehicles might be the business for you.
- Health care. If you came to military service with a degree in medicine, nursing, or a speciality such as radiology, it could be a wise move to stay in your field of expertise—particularly if you want to work with another institution or for an existing private practice. The on-the-job experience you gained by caring for your former comrades will probably stand out on your resume. Even work as a Patient Administration Specialist in a base hospital should transfer easily into an off-base facility. Starting your own practice will be more difficult, as it will take time, money, and possibly additional schooling and licensing to get established. But, if healthcare is a field you love, there are plenty of civilian patients who’d love to benefit from your expertise.
- Security and consulting. If the bulk of your military experience happened on the battlefield, either as a soldier, airman, sailor, or marine, you might be well-suited to work in security and consulting. This can include everything from providing security detail at local public special events to working as a bodyguard for a high-profile public figure. You might also consider offering self-defense training to schools and corporations or advising on the development of home and government security systems if you’re tech-oriented as well. Both the physical strength and mental acuity you developed by serving can prepare you for any one of these specific fields, whether you saw action or not. It’ll take time to build your business, as well as public and private trust. And, you might have to start out small. But, your unique skill set is already a big plus in a world where safety is a constant concern.
- Home repair or maintenance. Both combatant and noncombatant military jobs can equip you for work in the home repair and maintenance industries. Depending on how dirty you want to get, you can choose between performing home inspections, supplying lawn care services, or cleaning pools, among other services. Perhaps you’ll want to specialize in providing bathroom and kitchen renovations for investment properties or installing HVAC systems in new developments. Becoming a licensed general contractor is also an option if you prefer to oversee and direct a work site, rather than engage in the day-to-day manual labor of construction. The bad news for these fields is that any physical work can be grueling and one bad injury can end your career. But, if you like to create change—and, are handy with tools—your opportunities for work abound.
- Real estate investing. Almost every former military personnel member, no matter their rank or experience, has honed several skills that can be applied to that of a real estate investor. These include planning, problem-solving, and communication skills. And, the work ethic exhibited by veterans is the kind of elbow grease that the most successful of investors employ. Of course, there are benefits to investing in real estate as a business that could be especially meaningful for veterans, too, like having control over your day and income potential—all without having to earn a degree. My father also likes the feeling of giving something bigger of himself when he helps a neighborhood transition from a bad one to a good one by reducing blight and raising property values. If you’ve got an inkling to be an entrepreneur, don’t want to limit what you can accomplish or when, and connect with the idea of helping your neighbors, then becoming a real estate investor could be your next tactical move.
Obviously, pursuing a career in real estate investing was my dad’s first choice once he retired. He didn’t go it alone, though. I suspect that having the support of a great team behind him had a greater impact on his decision to become an investor than he realized at the time. After all, he served his country for more than three decades and had come to respect the role that teamwork plays in your success. Of course, not every new investor is lucky enough to have that kind of backup. But, with the right real estate investing franchise behind you, it is available if you want it.
Serve Your Future With a Solid Team to Back You Up
My dad, an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisee like me, was given a 10% discount on the franchise fee when he joined the HomeVestors® team. And, that discount is extended to all veterans who want to serve their communities by investing in them. But, that’s not why he bought into a HomeVestors® franchise. He was trained to invest in real estate, supported by a network of regional franchisees, and guided by a seasoned Development Agent—his own personal mentor—to succeed as much in his new field of expertise as he had in his old one. That appeals to hardworking, dedicated guys like us. But, for my dad, it also helped to create one of the easiest transitions into civilian life I’ve ever seen a veteran make.
For more information on how you can serve your financial future by becoming a professional real estate investor today, contact HomeVestors®. As a veteran, you’ll receive 10% off of your franchisee fee and a dedicated team who will support you.
Each franchise office is independently owned and operated.