Would you be surprised that 9% of all businesses in America are veteran owned? That is roughly 2.4 million businesses. Also, there are 300,000 veterans in the state of Louisiana and 20,000 of those are right here in New Orleans. (US Census) Many of them are your neighbors, friends and maybe even co-workers, and instilled in each and every one of them is the will to lead.
A service member transitioning from military to civilian life may be struggling to make the change out of uniform. Consequently, a lot of their skills go unnoticed, simply because they don’t have a degree. I know exactly how they feel. In 2004, I received two months’ notice that I was being medically retired from the Marine Corps, and at that moment I decided to start my own business. I struggled through it, sure, but I knew that nothing would compare to the tour I did in Iraq. The men and women of the military have held positions that warranted great responsibility, leadership, and decision-making abilities. I have seen the great things they have accomplished day in and day out during their military careers. Failure is never an option as a service man or woman, and perseverance and hard work are instilled in our veterans from day one. That’s why I believe veterans are the best entrepreneurs. According to Forbes, veterans make good entrepreneurs for 3 reasons:
- They know how to effectively manage risk
- They operate well under pressure
- They have experience getting a lot done with limited resources.
These are the types of traits we are looking for in our 2015 cohorts.
Thanks to an increase in exposure and resources, our second business accelerator will kick off in October and is expected to double in size. At VetLaunch, we understand that veterans’ needs are different than the average American. We tailored the program to provide veterans with valuable advice, guidance and resources to build and grow scalable and/or fundable businesses. This is all made possible from our Entrepreneurs in Residence or EIRs. Featuring Lisa Lloyd and J. Miguez, we are able to provide a well-rounded program including one-on-one employee assistance, financial literacy and management, transition seminars, business networking and mentorship. Ultimately, our goal is to help these cohorts leverage their military experience to start new businesses, gain new employment and continue to make a positive impact in society.
I truly believe that bringing all of these entrepreneurs and projects together under one roof at Landing Zone is the key to a successful year. Research from the Huffington Post actually proves that co-working is preferred for entrepreneurs and 50% actually reported higher incomes when inhabiting a co-working space. Our vision for the space is to enable these entrepreneurs to collaborate and flourish together, allowing them to find the resources and support they may not find working alone. Military communities are used to leaning on each other for support, and we believe this should carry over to a business environment as well. We encourage you to stop by anytime to tour the space. Our doors are always open!
Finally, I encourage any veteran, active duty, military reservist or spouse with a new business idea or even a fully functioning business that needs assistance to apply to be a participant in the 2015 program. No idea or business is too big or too small. We’re here to provide you with the tools needed to make that idea come to life or just help bring your business to the next level.
We look forward to getting to know our new participants and can’t wait to report the success they find through the program.
VetLaunch and Landing Zone cofounder
Veterans can view eligibility requirements and submit an application for consideration for the fall 2015 entrepreneurial season by visiting http://www.VetLaunch.org.
As a U.S. Marine Corps veteran turned commercial real estate expert and serial entrepreneur, Robert understands the difficulties veterans face in post-military life and strives to use his own military transition experiences and entrepreneurial skills to help other veterans launch successful post-military careers through VetLaunch. The nonprofit organization is New Orleans’ only accelerator dedicated to helping veterans effectively transition from military to civilian life. As founder and lead Entrepreneur in Residence, Robert guides all other EIRs to cultivate a program that’s effective and beneficial to each participating entrepreneur.
The organization resides in Armbruster’s other passion project, The Landing Zone, a co-working space for veteran-related businesses. The community workspace opened in January 2015 and is New Orleans’s only incubator that provides veterans and businesses that support them the opportunity to collaborate and grow together.
Armbruster attended the US Naval Academy and served as a Marine Corps Officer for eight years. While serving a tour in Iraq, he faced military career-ending injuries during combat operations.