Helping Veterans through Business Ownership Opportunities

Ken Hutcheson, U.S. Lawns

Ken Hutcheson, U.S. LawnsThe transition from the military to the civilian workforce can be a daunting task for any service man or woman.  Despite possessing strong skills in areas of leadership, operations, and teamwork, veterans are not always aware of the available career opportunities that utilize these skills. Business ownership is not only an opportunity for which veterans are highly qualified, but it is also an opportunity that may be closer than they think.

In an economy where veterans have a higher unemployment rate than non-military Americans, it is not always easy to demonstrate to potential employers the skills learned in the service and its applicability to the civilian sector.  It is important to leverage the experience and skills learned during service to connect with the civilian market. Unfortunately, employers frequently avoid hiring veterans as they have little knowledge of what is actually learned during military service. Many military job titles throw employers off, deterring them from seeing the benefit in the candidate’s actions and duties.

The military can promote hard skills otherwise not taught to potential employees, all the while enforcing the soft skills, such as leadership and teamwork, which are so crucial to the business world.  Although there are initiatives in place, such as the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, to assist with providing a more seamless transition for service members into the civilian workforce, or providing training opportunities for veterans, and tax credits for employers who hire veterans with service-connected disabilities, veterans still have a higher rate of unemployment than civilians. 

However, the skills learned in the military can be the perfect primer for business ownership and, in an economic climate where jobs can be hard to come by for any individual, a great path towards financial gain and further employment for others.

With the extensive education and training afforded to military personnel an easy transition into a civilian career through small business ownership can be found in a variety of fields. Choosing a franchise with a strong track record, great brand recognition and history of solid franchisee support can make the transition to civilian life and business ownership a seamless process.  Franchises typically haves a proven system in place; many are turnkey in nature, and match well with the military’s systematic approach to any operation. 

Veterans make great candidates for business ownership as the skills learned during training and serve bring numerous intangibles the table.  Not only do veterans understand leading by example, but also embody the dedication necessary to seeing a job through to completion.  Further, veterans are comfortable working closely with other people and excel when it comes to discipline, networking and strategy.  Franchise systems which have a successful business model in place need leaders that not only follow that system but can lead the business within that framework. 

Strategic initiatives like VetFran, which promotes the veteran ownership of franchises across America, have begun connecting veterans with franchising opportunities. In many cases, companies affiliated with VetFran are willing to lower franchise buying costs for veterans in an effort to lower the returning military member’s unemployment rate. Sometimes these costs are lowered as much as 75% off the original cost of ownership. Additionally, many of these franchisors have a national footprint, meaning new branches can be opened anywhere in North America, making it possible for veterans to remain close to family and friends.

Today, more than 66,000 business franchises are owned and operated by U.S. military veterans, directly employing more than 815,000 Americans. Business franchisors provide veterans with essential training and support to lead operations that rely on the types of systems and procedures emphasized in military training.

Franchise initiatives present phenomenal business opportunities for veterans.  While a number of franchises offer financing, training and assistance getting started, it is imperative to find the right franchise and ensure its underlying corporate principles and values match your own. 

About the Author

Ken Hutcheson is President of U.S. Lawns, one of the commercial landscape industry’s largest and most successful companies with approximately 255 franchise locations nationwide.  With over 30 years of experience in the green industry, Ken’s insight has helped shaped the commercial landscape franchise industry into what it is today.  Ken can be reached at  Visit the U.S. Lawns web site at