According to the Small Business Administration, “Veteran business owners are responsible for nearly one out of every ten small businesses in America, employ nearly six million workers, generate over 1.5 trillion dollars in receipts each year and are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans”. http://bit.ly/SBAVetBizWeek. So what exactly makes veterans so well suited for entrepreneurship? These are just a few of the many reasons why:
- Work Ethic
Entrepreneurs work long, hard hours…especially in the start-up phase. Veterans already possess the mental and physical fortitude as well as the discipline to survive the long days and, equally as important, their families have that same ability. It’s important to have the buy-in and understanding of those around you given that entrepreneurial endeavors require sacrifice. Military families know the level of commitment and support needed better than most.
- Risk Tolerance
Starting and maintaining your own business is undeniably risky. There are ways to help mitigate the risks but not completely remove them. Veterans already have the skillset to both mitigate and face risk head-on. Both in military life and in entrepreneur life, the ability to create and execute a thought-out operating strategy is essential (as well as the ability to read the current situation and adjust accordingly…see “agility” below). When it comes to risk assessment, gathering intel and then moving to action, veterans have been conditioned at a high level.
Being able to recognize threats and opportunities and respond quickly is a way of life for active military…and a way of life for a successful entrepreneur. Being agile in business, now more than ever, is essential. Those who recognize the shifts in the market and strategically stay current (ahead) of their industry are in an advantageous position. There is a level of “constant awareness” that comes from military experience that translates well to the business world.
Veterans know how to build and work in teams. They know how to inspire those around them for a mission, a cause, a purpose. A business owner needs to possess these skills to harness the full strength of their team. A strong leader makes the difference between average performance by their staff and “all in” dedication to the goals and to the leader.
The ability to work towards the big picture, for something greater…that vision and dedication is what draws many to the military originally. A veteran has the heart, focus and belief in their country and mission to persevere no matter the obstacles. An entrepreneur must have that same focus and belief in their business to succeed.
About the author
Pasqualina DeBoer is the Assistant Director of the NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College.
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