Tools and Resources for Veteran Business-Owner Success

with Barb Carson of the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families

Veterans have been an entrepreneurial force in the U.S. since World War II, but the number of veteran-owned businesses has declined since then.

Barb Carson, Managing Director of the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, joins host Tetiana Anderson to discuss barriers veterans face when starting a business, and efforts to support their entrepreneurial journey.

Posted on:

October 31, 2023

Hosted by: Tetiana Anderson
Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Anderson: Building a successful business can be challenging, but for the 1.9 million veteran business owners in the U.S., it can be especially difficult. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. Veterans returning from World War II used their military skills to start businesses and, in turn, create jobs for other Americans. According to the D'Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, nearly 50% of them became entrepreneurs. But since then, the number of veterans choosing to start companies has dropped dramatically. Joining me to talk about breaking down barriers to business ownership for veterans is Barb Carson. She is the managing director of the D'Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. And, Barb, thank you so much for being here.

Carson: Thanks for having me in today.

Anderson: So why such a dramatic drop in the number of veterans starting businesses from World War II and the Korean War to today? What's going on?

Carson: A few things. We do see better market conditions for people to get a job, which might put off the time that they start a business, and there are some challenging conditions that we'll talk about, including barriers to getting the access to capital that they need to get that start. We are still seeing over 30% of veterans leaving the service want to start a business. We need to help them get over the hump and get started. And we've got the resources to do just that.

Anderson: So it's not easy, obviously, for anybody to start a business. But what are some of the specific challenges for veterans who are looking to get into entrepreneurship?

Carson: The typical life of an active-duty service person and their family is moving every two to three years. It's really difficult to build that connection with a community where you might find business mentors, to have a relationship with a bank, who would be your first funder. And some of these moves can take a ding on a service member's credit.

Anderson: And where does the D'Aniello Institute come in? I mean, what are you guys doing to tear down these barriers and help these vets actually get into entrepreneurship?

Carson: Our entire mission is to help service members and their families thrive post-service, and we do that through employment programs and entrepreneurship programs, for someone who's just thinking of an idea for a business that really should be a hobby into those who have already started and those who are ready to grow and employ. Like we have talked about, 5 million people are employed by a veteran-owned business now.

Anderson: So there are obviously challenges along the way for veterans. But how does actually serving in the military ready these veterans to become owners of companies?

Carson: People who have served in uniform have endured a lot of chaos, and they are good at assessing risk but not being put off by it. They'll figure out how to continue moving forward. They have a lot of confidence in their skills and high self-efficacy.

Anderson: And this is something that you take personally, right? You are a military spouse, a service member. Talk to us a little bit about the idea of giving back to those who also served, like you.

Carson: I think that if people knew how many veteran-owned businesses there were out here, they would be finding them, be a consumer of them, mentor them if you could, bring them into your supply chain. For me, as a service member, I want to give back to veteran-owned businesses in those ways. And I found entrepreneurship as a military spouse to be really something rewarding to me, too. It's a nice, virtuous circle.

Anderson: And how is the D'Aniello Institute really preparing for the future in tackling these challenges? I mean, you see what's going on now, but I imagine you're looking ahead.

Carson: We are. We are engaging with policymakers and the Department of Defense to make more programs available for service members wherever they are, and we are engaged in those programs ourselves. We've served almost 100,000 entrepreneurs, and in two of our programs, for those that are just starting up, over 80% of them are still in business, which is remarkably high.

Anderson: And Barb, I know people are going to want to know more, so what is the website? Where should they look?

Carson: They should go to and find us. We can find you in person or online. We're ready.

Anderson: Barb Carson with the D'Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, thank you for being here.

Carson: Thanks so much for the opportunity.

Anderson: And thanks to our viewers as well for watching. As always, for more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the nation, visit I'm Tetiana Anderson.

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