Remember the old Army recruitment campaign from the 1980s that insisted soldiers “do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day?” Well, that really is more than just an effective use of hyperbole; It’s symbolic of the old-fashioned work ethic instilled through military training and service. The lessons learned and lived in military service like leadership, teamwork, competitive spirit, mission-orientation and ambition are the same attributes needed to succeed in business. These successful veteran business owners make exceptional, competent and efficient suppliers that are becoming an increasingly integral component of every large corporation’s supply chains.
In fact, the National Veteran-Owned Business Association began making the case for veterans in corporate supplier diversity back in 2007. At that time, there were fewer than 100 Fortune 1000 firms that included veterans as diverse suppliers. Over the last decade, that has changed dramatically, and now more than 435 of the word’s largest corporations are eager to buy veteran.
This creates an incredible opportunity for veterans that is largely still unknown to most. For example, many vetrepreneurs familiar with advantages for VOBs are aware that America’s federal government is the world’s single largest purchaser of goods and services and is required by law to purchase 3 percent of contract dollars with service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses. Last fiscal year that translated into a more than $15 billion opportunity.
But that federal opportunity pales in comparison to the potential for vetrepreneurs selling to all of corporate America. That’s right — that same 3 percent of what is purchased by corporations translates into a greater than $80 billion opportunity. Innovative tech juggernaut Apple, Inc., retail giants like Target and Walmart, and consumer products mainstays like Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson all buy veteran because it’s good business.
To top if off, veteran-owned companies hire more veterans as employees, so supporting veterans’ entrepreneurship symbiotically elevates veterans employment — helping provide positive results for two desired outcomes for the veteran community simultaneously. The bottom line is simple; Doing business with veterans boosts the bottom line.
Matthew Pavelek, Vice President of Membership, the National Veteran-Owned Business Association, [email protected]