3 Ideas Your Small Business Can Use to Honor Military Appreciation Month

Memorial Day may be the best known holiday in May, but the entire month is set aside to honor past and present military members and their families.

May is National Military Appreciation Month, designated by Congress in 1999. According to military.com, the month was chosen because of the many individual days marking veterans, military anniversaries and events.

"Not only do we pause on Memorial Day to remember the sacrifice and service of those who gave all, the month also holds several other military anniversaries and events, including Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Armed Forces Day," says a military.com post.

Memorial Day is officially recognized the last Monday every May. Other military days of note sprinkled in May include Loyalty Day, established in 1921, and Victory in Europe (VE) Day, commemorating the end of WWII in Europe in 1945.

That means small businesses have an entire month of opportunities to honor the military, veterans, and their families.

If you want to look outside the traditional Memorial Day or weekend sale (always a good marketing idea) for your small business, here are 3 ideas how you and your employees could recognize Military Appreciation Month in May.

Acknowledge veterans as entrepreneurs and business owners. According to a recent SBA study, military service exhibits one of the most considerable marginal effects on self-employment – veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans.

"The U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes the impact that veterans have on the American economy," the agency says on its 'Facts About Veterans and Entrepreneurs' page.

There's one veteran-owned firm for every ten veterans, and veteran-owned firms employ 5.8 million individuals, says the SBA website.

Further, veteran-owned businesses made up about 5.7% (331,151) of all businesses, with $963.4 billion in receipts, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released late last year about its 2020 Annual Business Survey.

If you count yourself among the veterans who started or own a business, May would be a great time to share your story in honor of Military Appreciation Month. 

Let people know what inspired you to become an entrepreneur or the role your military background helps you run a successful small business.

That could be via content your business posts on social media, internal communications with employees, or even at a public venue, such as a local Military Appreciation Month or business networking event in your community.    

Engage with a veteran-owned business, organization, or military population. The SBA estimates there are about 2.4 million veteran-owned firms in the U.S. Chances are one is located in your area, online community, or a shared business network.

Identify a veteran-owned company or a business owned by current military personnel or family that would be a good fit with your type of business or within the same industry. You can then explore options for a possible collaboration, whether virtual or at a brick-and-mortar location. 

Options include a joint sponsorship of a Military Appreciation Month event in May or seeing if a specific day recognizes a military event or anniversary that's important to that business owner or to the services or products it offers.

Another way to engage and show appreciation is through offering discounts or promotions on your products or services to former and current military personnel during May if that's feasible for your business. 

Donate/volunteer for an organization that benefits military populations. According to the nonprofit monitoring website GuideStar, more than 45,000 nonprofits provide services to veterans in the U.S. 

You could contribute on behalf of your business or organize a donation campaign for a military-serving charity.

If you have employees, find volunteer opportunities at an organization serving veterans in your area as a way your business can recognize Military Appreciation Month. Some charities already have set time and tasks for volunteer groups. 

You might also want to check with local officials to see if you and your employees could offer gardening, cleaning, or other types of maintenance at an area monument or park honoring veterans.

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