Veterans Small Business Roadshow Comes to SIU-C

Sep 26, 2017

Veterans and military personnel interested in starting a small business learned some tips on how to get the process started.

The Small Business Development Center at SIU-Carbondale hosted the Veterans Small Business Roadshow Tuesday.

Hazel Beck is director of the Veterans Business Outreach Center, which took part in the workshop. She says veterans are often fearful of starting a business because they think they have to find a direct correlation from their job in the military to their civilian life. Beck says she tries to help them determine the skills they used to support their military work.
"That's when they start coming out with mission focus, team building, critical thinking, analysis and problem solving. Before you know it, they have a very long list. If you look at that list, those are indeed some of the skills that would make you successful as a small business owner."
The guest speaker was Army veteran and small business owner Tom Harness. He says military skills transfer to the business world because owning a business is like being in a combat zone.
"Hey, you owe a bill. Hey, employee didn't come in. Hey, this customer is unhappy. Instead of complaining about it, I flipped it, I retrained my brain, solution mode, how do we fix this?"
Harness says there is funding and support for veterans wanting to start a business. He says the good news is that 77-percent of the public wants to do business with veterans.

Trent Stevens is an Army veteran who works in the healthcare industry. He wants to start a company that bids on healthcare contracts, but says he was fearful that he was the only veteran interested in doing something like this.
"To come in a room and meet veterans who are in front of me in the process and behind me in the process, I'm kind of in the middle, if I had to put a price tag on the motivation and the pep rally I got from here would be priceless."
Michelle Bryant is an Army veteran and currently a public safety officer at SIU-C. She plans to open a hair salon in Texas after she retires from the university in two years. Bryant says having the Veterans Business Outreach Center involved Tuesday will help her relocate to start her entrepreneurial venture.
"With it being a veteran-based service, it's available throughout the country, so you just need to seek out where you're going to be at to see where there at."
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