Veterans return with entrepreneurial dreams
NEW BERN, N.C. — Dan Spangler's business started to take shape as the wounded Marine started hanging around a mutt named Spanky and learned he had a soft spot for dogs.
But as you might expect from a veteran, Spangler took a disciplined but steadfast approach to building his business.
The nearly seven-year journey to opening A Dog's Dream in New Bern in 2010 included utilizing local small-business resources, going back to school and saving money by working unrelated jobs.
“We are growing by leaps and bounds,” said Spangler, 34. The transition from Marine to employee can be a difficult one, Spangler said, because some private sector opportunities limit veterans with unbending job descriptions and micro-management. That is one of the reasons self-employment is often a better — but not necessarily easier — option for many veterans.
Veterans are 45 percent more likely than their civilian counterparts to be small-business owners or entrepreneurs, said Rhett Jeppson, associate administrator for the Small Business Administration Office of Veterans Business Development.
Nearly 1 in 10 small businesses nationwide are veteran-owned, he said. Collectively, those 2.4 million veteran-owned businesses employ almost 6 million Americans and generate more than $1 trillion in receipts.
“We think supporting that small-business veteran owner is huge,” Jeppson said. “It's not only that we have a moral obligation to support our veterans, but also it makes a lot of economic sense to provide and foster opportunities to our veterans.”
Military members transitioning from active service participate in mandated transition assistance programs that introduce them to different career tracks, including entrepreneurship.
Scott Dorney, the North Carolina Military Business Center's executive director, said while there are a plethora of services available to those veterans who become entrepreneurs, navigating through all those resources can be a real challenge.
Jeppson found aid through the SBA's Veteran Business Outreach Center at Fayetteville (N.C.) State University.
The SBA and its resource partners, Jeppson said, can help veterans with everything from building a business plan to connecting them to financing opportunities.
Mark Haupt, president of the N.C. Veteran's Business Association, recommends that veterans sorting through resources talk to other business owners who have used the services. He said they should never pay for information that organizations such as the SBA provide for free.
“When you are a veteran, one of the things you have is will, and you are persistent, and even with no resources or very limited resources, you are going to figure things out,” said Army veteran Alisha Whiteway, who in 2008 opened Tellurvision, a video production firm for small businesses in Raleigh, N.C.
Whiteway said her military service gave her credibility, but she learned how to identify a target market from other business owners.
Whiteway sought help from the Women's Business Center of North Carolina, along with successful women business owners, to help her move her business forward.
When Spangler returned to Jacksonville, N.C., from Iraq in 2003, he adopted Spanky, a tan and white mutt, from a local shelter.
“We ended up spending a lot of time together,” Spangler said. “He went everywhere with me.”
Spangler enrolled Spanky in classes at PetSmart and became infatuated with the process. He started teaching classes himself when he was given a medical discharge from the Marines in 2004.
He hurt his hip diving for cover when his unit came under fire.
The former microwave and multi-channel radio technician used his GI Bill benefits to get an associate degree at a community college.
Spangler visited Anne Shaw, director of the Small Business Center there, to discuss his idea to open a dog-related business. Shaw and others encouraged him to build a plan and save money.
“I learned there were more things I needed to learn,” he said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh’s tech startup activity rates last of 40 metro areas in report
- After years of downsizing, big houses make comeback
- New J.C. Penney CEO comes from middle-income America
- Floating homes offer ‘affordable’ option in San Francisco area
- Truffle dogs sniff out pungent fungus prized by foodies
- How to land that 1st job after college
- H-D Advanced Manufacturing in Franklin Park buys aerospace components maker Firstmark
- Corporate America speaking out on social issues, getting results
- Aetna to buy rival Humana for $35B
- FirstEnergy joins 2 others to reopen Canonsburg manufacturing facility
- U.S. employers add 223K jobs, jobless rate falls to 5.3%