According to the 2019 Annual Business Survey from the U.S. Census, veteran-owned businesses made up about 5.9% of all businesses in the U.S. Together, those businesses brought in nearly $1 trillion in revenue.
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In other words, veteran-owned businesses are an integral part of the U.S. economy. Whether you want to support veterans on Veterans Day or support them on a more ongoing basis, their success is key to the success of the American economy more broadly.
Here, we'll cover a few resources that can help you support your local veterans and the economy as a whole.
Shop at Veteran Businesses
One of the most direct ways to support veteran-owned businesses is simply by giving them your patronage. Many businesses found themselves struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes those owned by veterans. You may not know which businesses in your area are veteran-owned, but there are ways to find out.
For example, you can call your local United Service Organizations (USO) and ask about veteran-owned businesses near you. You also can do an online search or check websites such as the Veterans Business Network. Shopping at these businesses will help them keep their doors open for the months and years ahead.
Leave Positive Reviews
Leaving a good review is helpful for any business, and it can be helpful for veteran-owned businesses, too. If you have visited one, help the business - and people in your area - by posting your positive experience online. You can do so on their Facebook page, Yelp, Google Maps, etc.
Posting positive reviews not only makes other potential customers more confident but also can help your veteran-owned businesses show up higher when people search for that kind of business. For example, if someone were to search "construction management services," your positive review can make the veteran-owned business show up higher in a search, making other people more likely to find it.
Help With Fundraising Efforts
One way to support veteran-owned businesses is through fundraising efforts. For example, perhaps one of these businesses wants to organize a fundraiser to help support their business. Or maybe a veteran-owned business wants to run a food drive to help local veterans in need.
While the latter would help the business more indirectly, it could help bring more awareness in the community to the services they provide. Increased exposure could help bring them more business down the line.
Spread the Word
In addition to leaving positive reviews online, you also can help by telling your friends and family about your favorite veteran-owned businesses. For example, you can help spread the word by posting about your experience on your own social media pages.
Alternatively, you could mention them to friends and family in person. If someone says they are looking for an auto mechanic, you can mention the veteran mechanic who did a great job fixing your car. You don't even have to mention that they are a veteran if you prefer to avoid it - if they did a great job, that is the important part.
Support a Local Organization That Helps Veteran Entrepreneurs
There are some local organizations whose mission is to help veteran entrepreneurs succeed. Some of these organizations accept donations and host various events. They provide various services, such as business consulting, skills development, mentoring and online training.
Find a local veterans' business support organization on the Small Business Administration website. You can learn more about what each of them offers by calling or visiting their website.
Provide Support for Veteran Families and Spouses
Veteran spouses can be great at not only supporting their loved ones but at starting their own businesses. Of course, their success also can be beneficial to veterans. Fortunately, there are aid organizations that focus on helping military spouses and family members start businesses.
For example, the Institute for Veterans & Military Families (IVMF) has entrepreneurship programs tailored to military families. Its Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans focuses on the financial, management and marketing of new businesses. The IVMF also has donation options, both for one-time and for monthly donations.
Getting more involved in your local community can help you get to know some of the veterans in your area. Perhaps some of them have businesses, which you can in turn support either with your patronage or in other ways. Maybe they need help in some specific way but don't know where to turn.
There are numerous ways you can meet some of the veterans near you. For example, you can search for a veteran foundation in your state, which may host events. Or you can simply search "veteran events near me" online. If you aren't a veteran yourself, though, it might make sense to look for volunteer opportunities with a veteran foundation. Either way, getting to know your local veterans is bound to open your eyes in a way you hadn't before considered.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 7 Ways To Support Veteran-Owned Businesses