Tackling the ups and downs of business is a challenge for many veterans who are transitioning from service in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to entrepreneurship.

Matt Lewis, who joined the ADF after leaving school at the age 18 in 1996, never thought running a business was a realistic option. Having served with the Army in the 5th/7th Battalion (Mechanized), Royal Australian Regiment, Matt attained the rank of Section Commander before leaving the ADF in 2003.

Initially turning to woodworking as a form of therapy to manage his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), he soon realised his hobby presented much broader opportunities.

But the myriad of challenges that small business owners typically face like creating business plans, exploring business loans, credit cards and accounts to even working out weekly income and spending, weren’t part of his early experience and training on the frontline.

“I’ve always tinkered with wood, but a short course I did with another veteran ignited it into a passion. Being able to take a raw product and make something out of it was cathartic and helped me focus,” Matt said. “I wanted to create something more.

“Turning the idea into a business seemed like a pipe dream. I had a complete lack of business knowledge with no idea where to even start.

“Transitioning from the clear structure of the ADF to making decisions for yourself as a business owner was very daunting and it was easy to feel overwhelmed.

“I’m taking each challenge one step at a time and want to encourage others to have a go as well. It’s easy to get overwhelmed but just getting started and evolving your vision as you go can make a big difference.”

Commonwealth Bank has created a team of specialised business bankers to support veterans to transition from the ADF to the business world and equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to achieve their business goals.

CBA will also sponsor the Prince’s Trust Business of the Year, Beyond Service Award and work with Veteran Community Business Chamber to provide veterans with tailored education sessions on topics to strengthen business acumen, confidence and financial literacy.

Queensland Small Business Banker and Veteran Specialist, Julie Hall, said each of the bankers in CBA’s Veteran Business Bankers team brought their own connection and deep understanding of the military and veteran community to their roles.

As a wife and mother to veterans, Julie understands the unique needs of veterans in pursuing their business goals.

“Veterans have incredible resilience and determination which provide a strong foundation for business success,” Julie said.

“Our new partnerships and dedicated banking specialists will help build on the many business opportunities available to the veteran community.

“As a member of the community myself, connecting with veteran-owned business customers is always a privilege. I’m thrilled to be able to support the men and women who protect our country as they navigate their next journey in business.”