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  • Writer's picturetkapels

TK-Architecture: a "Vetrepreneur."

Did you know that Veterans are 45% more likely to own a small business than non-veterans and other groups? This is a topic and trend of great interest to TK-Architecture, as we are a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business. In fact, there is a particular coined word for military veterans who become entrepreneurs and own their own business. This expression is known as "vetrepreneur" and there are various reasons why veterans are so much more likely to own a small business, in addition to specific traits that make them more likely to become entrepreneurs.

According to the U.S. Small Business Association, "The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recognizes the impact that veterans have on the American economy. According to the most recent data, there is about one veteran-owned firm for every ten veterans, and veteran-owned firms employ 5.8 million individuals. A recent SBA study also found that military service exhibits one of the largest marginal effects on self-employment, and veterans are 45% more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans." TK--Architecture is honored to be included in these statistics since the firm was established in 2012 by Thomas J. Kapels, AIA, ASLA, LEED Green Associate, who was a former engineer officer in the Army National Guard and a Veteran of the Iraq War.

Since starting TK-Architecture in 2012, the firm has incorporated a modular team structure that produces teamwork, mentorship, and continuity among staff members but also allows flexibility, diversity, and agility. The structure of the company was based upon many principles Tom took away from his military experience. Today TK-Architecture is based on the structure below:

  • SMALL - Small businesses form the backbone of the American economy. Small teams can be more agile, flexible, and quick to adapt to changes in clients’ needs, economic conditions, and practices within the profession.

  • AGILE - Clients, projects, regulations, technology, and economies are constantly changing and at a quicker pace. Firms must be quick to adapt to the constantly changing conditions of the profession and the business environment. The team structure must be modular and able to be modified to accommodate the needs of the individual client and project. Staffing of a project should be simple, adequate, and consistent.

  • DIVERSE – Clients are diverse. Projects are diverse. To continually service clients and all their needs, a firm must be able to design multiple building types. Small businesses do not pigeon-hole our staff into one aspect of a practice. Instead, we offer multi-talented experts who can fulfill any role needed on a project.

  • ELITE - Providing a service that is a step-above-the-rest is a sure strategy for being set apart from the competition. The team can take pride in knowing that it provides a quality service and is an exceptional firm.

Overall, this structure allows TK-Architecture the capacity to handle the larger projects while not losing focus and client responsiveness on the small ones. Every detail and action plan is important.

However, this structure is not the only thing that allows TK-Architecture and other Veteran Owned Business to remain competitive and provide a great impact to the American economy.

According to, an article titled "Veterans More Likely to Own Their Own Business Than Any Other Group" the military training that veterans learn and go through while serving, contributes and prepares them to own and manage their own business following their exit within the military. According to "MACWPA" an article written in 2018 called "How Veteran-Owned Businesses Help Build A Stronger Economy" states that, "Many veterans are well aware of just how useful their military training can be to their entrepreneurial pursuits, too. The IVMF confirms that 32 percent of veteran entrepreneurs felt that the classes they’d taken during their time in the military would be “of direct relevance” in operating their new business. An impressive 52 percent of service-disabled veterans said that the technological training they’d had in the military proved useful in developing their new company. When veterans decide to start a business, they’re already armed with much of the knowledge and skill that takes some entrepreneurs years to develop." Therefore, as stated earlier, this contributes to the various reasons why veterans are so much more likely to own a small business, in addition to specific traits that make them more likely to become entrepreneurs. These areas are further explained below.

1. Reasons why Veterans are so much more likely to own a small business:

- Trained to be leaders

- Trained to be problem solvers

- Trained to be team players

- Trained to multi-task -- Veterans are able to focus their work on a variety of areas at one time.

- Trained to plan and adapt accordingly

- Trained to utilize the resources available to help them succeed

2. Specific traits that make Veterans more likely to Extraordinary Business Owners (according to the

- Strong work ethic: veterans are trained to stick with difficult task and see them to completion.

- Risk-taking: the entrepreneurial world carries no guarantees, and this is where Veterans are willing to evaluate risk and seize opportunities. Leading a small business required an act of faith and working well under pressure.

- Self Confidence: Veterans are known to be courageous. They believe in themselves and their abilities.

- Leadership: even in the midst of being exposed to many levels of leadership in the military, Veterans, they know what it takes and what it looks like (the good and bad).

- Time and Resources Management: they "make do with what they have" mentality. They understand what it means to stretch resources and work on a minimal budget, as well as find innovative solutions to problem in order to make quick and creative decisions.

In summary, TK-Architecture is a proud "vetrepreneur", and after recognizing the reasons why veterans are much more likely to own a small business, and the traits that Veterans possess in order to become entrepreneurs, has been a great topic to further explore. We hope TK-Architecture and our other Veteran Owned business that we partner with, will continue to professionally uphold these reasons and personalities traits in the entrepreneurial world for small businesses.

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