Blake Stilwell is a columnist for Military.com.
In the more than two years since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, veteran entrepreneurs and military-affiliated businesses are showing many of the same challenges that face businesses nationwide.
Although many veterans were able to adapt their businesses in some way to pandemic-related restrictions, finding good employees and the loss of regular customers still creates issues for many of those businesses, according to a recently released study from Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF).
But perhaps most importantly, the 2021 National Survey of Military Affiliated Entrepreneurs, released in April 2022, also reveals that access to capital is still the top barrier facing new and existing veteran-owned businesses.
The 2021 survey included 220 questions, with more than 2,600 veteran and military-affiliated entrepreneurs responding. It also tracks responses from the individuals year over year, offering a long view of conditions and changes. Questions in the survey covered individual and business information, metrics and attitudes, and gauged access to networks, resources and mentorship. It also asked about local and economic factors for individual businesses and the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic.
About 87% of participants said they were able to adapt their businesses to pandemic restrictions, with about 56% noting those same changes brought them additional opportunities.
Yet, 64% of respondents still reported losing business during the pandemic. And even more said they lost good employees during the same time period, noting that finding replacements has been even more difficult in the aftermath.
Although labor has always been an issue for veteran entrepreneurs, the ongoing “Great Resignation” has caused more and more veteran employers to list finding labor as a major barrier to business growth. That lack of employees has propelled the issue to a close second behind the veteran entrepreneur’s perennial top issue: access to capital.