As more military members came home from service over the past few years, some might have struggled to find job opportunities that aligned with both their skill sets and their passions. For this reason, a large number of veterans have decided to turn to entrepreneurship as a means of supporting themselves and their communities. And in many cases, they've also found that those communities were more than happy to support them as well.

Veteran entrepreneurship is growing in both success and popularity nationwide, as an ever-larger number of former service members find fertile ground for their business ideas across the country. One of the big cities where such activity is increasingly located these days is San Diego and its outlying suburbs, because the region is home to hundreds of thousands of veterans already, according to a report from The New York Times. In fact, no metro area anywhere in the country has a larger veteran population. Today, veterans are 45 percent more likely to run their own businesses than those who did not serve in the military.

San Diego is working to develop a mini-economy of veteran-run businesses.San Diego is working to develop a mini-economy of veteran-run businesses.

Why start in Southern California?
The reason so many veterans live in the San Diego area is two-fold: First, the climate is quite nice, and second, the city is home to significant military operations, the report said. In fact, many of the businesses veterans start in the region after leaving the military cater directly to these bases and both active and former service members. Moreover, the city of San Diego itself has tried to concentrate on fostering an environment in which veteran-owned small businesses can thrive.

Currently the greater San Diego area has dozens of services designed to help small businesses thrive, across a number of fields, the report said. But where veterans in particular are concerned, separate organizations exist to help them work their way through the startup process, which can include the tricky task of obtaining capital to get going in the first place. Often, vets may not have the easiest time in this regard – especially in competitive markets such as San Diego – because they don't have any real business background financial institutions or private backers might otherwise like to see. Training to help bridge that knowledge and experience gap can therefore go a long way.

"When you're starting a brand-new business and you don't have any type of business track record because you've been serving in the military, it's very hard to get a loan or find investors," Carlos Figari, director of the SoCal Veterans Business Outreach Center, which puts together programs for would-be veteran entrepreneurs, told the newspaper. "If you are starting a company that's directly connected to the experience obtained while you were in the military, then you have a network to tap. But if you want to open a Subway, that's a totally different story."

"Public and private organizations are working to help veterans get a leg up."

Other efforts proliferating as well
Of course, San Diego isn't the only place where public and private organizations are working to help veterans get a leg up as they set out for themselves in the business world. At New York University's Tandon School of Engineering, located in Brooklyn, a number of vets recently completed a short training period of 14 weeks designed to help them start their own businesses off on the right foot, according to a report from the Brooklyn Eagle.

The no-cost program was created through collaboration between NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and funded by a locally based state lawmaker's office, the report said. Specifically, it works to help vets develop what their companies will offer to the world – be it goods or services – as well as some basic how-to about getting the word out with public relations, fundraising and so on.

The training effort is designed to help vets with just about any business vision hit the ground running, even if they're working in collaboration with other business partners, which they often are, the report said. One recent graduate was planning to launch a media production company, while another had developed a product that measures water quality and reduces waste, and others planned subscription services and emergency alert equipment for motorcycles.

When these programs work as intended, they can provide a massive benefit to many of the men and women who served their country but also have big plans for their post-service lives. And the good news for those vets who may have a business idea brewing in their heads but aren't sure of how to proceed is that such efforts exist all over the country. All it may take to connect them with a training program that can help them advance their ideas from concept to execution is an hour or two of online research.