As a veteran, business coach, and entrepreneur myself, I am often asked why those with military experience are drawn to and find success in starting their own business.
Instilled in us through our military service are a myriad characteristics and behaviors which translate near-seamlessly to entrepreneurship, the more common threads being self-reliance, teamwork, and dutiful service.
Those who wear or have worn the uniform know, as standard practice we operate at an increased operational tempo, with fewer resources, under greater stressors, and with more riding on our minute-to-minute decisions. Starting in Basic Training and continuing on through to how we lead our people, we assume an accountability and a level of pride in what we accomplish and how we accomplish it. While a network and culture of uniformity and support surrounds us, we embrace our individual contribution to the mission. This is paramount in entrepreneurship as our name (often literally) hangs on our business. This instilled belief to “never give up the ship,” “just make it happen,” and “take the fight to them” fuels the veteran business owner, and empowers us to always believe in our ability to will the team and ourselves toward mission accomplishment.
From our “home team” of supportive family which makes our service even possible, to mission-specific specialists who enable our individual success and the success of our teams, we value and emphasize teamwork. For every publicized Special Forces mission, which incorporates the efforts of hundreds of logistics, intelligence, and planning personnel, there is a litany of equally-important every-day missions requiring the same level of forethought and support. Without the contributions of all, missions cannot be successful. Likewise in entrepreneurship, without the subject matter expertise of those on whom we rely, we cannot feasibly know enough about everything to anticipate long term success. Only by relying on our team—and being a contributing team member ourselves—can ultimate success be achieved.
The business ideas and entrepreneurial ambitions of the veteran community are vital for a few reasons: we innovate, we have the capacity to get things done, and we have the opportunity to create economic impact; but more importantly, I have seen demonstrated by my fellow service members the desire to give back and make impacts at the community level. I have seen successful small businesses grow and thrive; and then start community programs rooted in homelessness, youth outreach, and the arts. I have seen you sponsor youth sports teams, charter community events, and make donations to local causes.
Regardless of your Service, the era in which you served, or your current duty status, your presence and your impact in your communities are needed, they are felt, and they are appreciated. Keep up the great work!