Veterans learn how to start own business

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Current military service members, their families and veterans can take free business courses at the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center on the campus of Arkansas State University. According to Herb Lawrence, Center Director of the ASBTDC, military service members can take classes to help them deal with deployment and manage their business at the same time.

"It's part of our ongoing workshops that we do for existing and start up businesses," said Lawrence. "We get a good response through all of our workshops for our veterans."

Lawrence said veterans who want to learn more about starting their own business or other questions in the field are urged to contact the Arkansas State University Delta Center. He said a number of veteran assistance projects are made available throughout the year, including on-site instruction or online.

"A lot of them are looking at the option of going into business for themselves," said Lawrence. "How do I write a business proposal? What kind of loan assistance is out there that we can tap into? So between our training classes and our consulting assistance, we try to answer all those questions for those military veterans."

Handouts at the Delta Center include programs and information on marketing, starting a business in Arkansas, how to write a business plan and pre-deployment/post-deployment business preparations. Lawrence said many military families are in a tough spot.

"Those citizen soldiers are ones that we have spent a lot of time trying to work with, because they're generally in a very difficult situation. Especially if they're sole proprietors or self employed or a small business owner," said Lawrence. "To suddenly be told you're going to spend the next 12 months in Iraq or Afghanistan or the Balkans or somewhere like that, suddenly you've got to make some very hard decisions. What am I going to do with my livelihood?"

For more information on small business training for veterans, click here.

"You're job is protected as an employee. There's no such guard for someone who is an entrepreneur or owns their own business who gets called up," said Lawrence. "If they find they're getting ready to get deployed, make decisions about what they need to do with that business to keep it running. Hopefully they've been around long enough they've got enough employees or a family member who can continue to make good decisions and keep the business afloat in their absence. In a lot of cases, especially with a self employed, you're it, you're the business. You're the truck driver."

Lawrence said ASU was one of seven small business centers in the state which deal with military veterans.

"Maybe we can just put it in mothballs until they get back and it will still be viable, or in some cases do we need to look at how do we close it down successfully, maybe find us a buyer," said Lawrence.

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