Pandemic brings silver lining for veterans’ business chamber

When former Duntroon classmates turned business partners, Peter Liston and Matt Moseley, established the Veterans Community Business Chamber (VCBC) earlier this year, they had no idea a global health outbreak would transform the organisation while still in its infancy.

7 July 2020

Matt Moseley in a white shirt and a blue suit jacket and Peter Liston wearing a white t-shirt and a grey suit jacket. There is a low wooden fence and a garden hedge behind them.

Matt Moseley (left) and Peter Liston (right).

With an entrepreneurial spirit which saw the duo win a 2018 Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Award for their initial joint venture, Secure Windows, they quickly adapted, forming an online community to support existing veteran-owned businesses and serving ADF personnel seeking a pathway to self-employment.

‘Those with military service possess a unique skillset and character which prepares them well for self-employment,’ Mr Liston explains.

‘However, some veterans feel there is little support out there for the transition to business ownership, so through VCBC we want to support, encourage and nurture the seed of aspiration within the veteran community.’

Through an online portal, members can access free coaching with subject matter experts including accountants, lawyers, and sales, marketing and HR professionals; network with the veteran business community through forums and virtual catch ups; and formally register as a veteran-owned/veteran supported business, generating an awareness of the option to 'buy veteran' within the general community.

As well as helping veterans and serving members commencing transition, the pair is focused on assisting the partners of ADF personnel – of who Mr Liston says, ‘no group in our community gives so much and is recognised so little.’

Mr Liston and Mr Mosely are also committed to assisting veterans incapacitated or medically restricted.

‘It is a fact of military service that many members will discharge through injuries or illness as a result of their military career,’ Mr Liston said.

‘We want to provide a different career path for people who are medically incapacitated, to help them create a new career in their own time, at their own pace, in their own place through self-employment.’

While Mr Liston admitted some VCBC members had closed their doors and put their businesses into hibernation, he said there are good news stories to be found.

‘Without being flippant to those whose businesses are struggling, we have to take a glass half full approach and use this down time as an opportunity,’ he said.

‘A couple of examples include My Flower Shoppe in the Brisbane CBD which has pivoted from a shop front to increasing online deliveries; Rippa Websites based in Sydney has generated a suite of new projects from referrals generated within our community; Operation Legal continues to grow their veteran focused legal practice; and Axon Property is focusing on supporting veterans and serving members get into the property market.’

For serving members considering self-employment, Mr Liston suggests planning their transition extensively and understanding what support is available – something DVA’s Veteran Support Officers can assist with.

When it comes to veterans, or anyone looking to go into a small business, Mr Liston recommends testing a minimum viable product before a fullscale launch. And his number one piece of advice: ‘If you believe and you want it, you can do it.’

Visit the Veterans Community Business Chamber website to join and find a veteran community owned business in your neighbourhood.