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Five Attributes That Make Veterans Well Suited For Entrepreneurship

Transitioning Veterans sometimes struggle with translating military skills and expertise to the commercial market. One source claims that as many as 45% of transitioning Veterans are choosing to start their own business. Though most non-veterans don’t realize it, the veteran, is typically much more experienced than their civilian counterpart of the same age. How many civilian 23 year-olds are responsible for 10 to 45 people and millions of dollars in equipment? And that is just the experience of a young Lieutenant. The same could be said of service members of almost any rank or specialty. These skills and experience make it hard for the Veteran in the first few years at a civilian company because they tend to have more experience and better leadership skills than their supervisor. These same traits make the Veteran uniquely qualified to start and succeed in their own business enterprise. Here are five attributes that make Veterans well suited to start and run their own business.
  1. Mission Focus:
The military gives you a results-oriented mission focus. In the box, you jump from one mission to the next and each mission has a definition of success. The planning skills and a willingness to execute that plan are critical to entrepreneurial success. What is your goal? Backwards plan to achieve that goal. After the mission, Veterans are trained to learn from their mistakes through a formal review process. In the business world this is applied to testing your ideas, reviewing the result, and making changes for the better. Marketing campaigns and new products or services are just a couple aspects of your business that benefit from this process.
  1. Work Ethic:
Those successful in their military career worked hard, no doubt. They know the kind of effort it takes and are not afraid to work. Long hours of planning to execute a mission that only lasts a few hours translates very well in the business world.
  1. Leadership:
In the civilian sector, positive, fair, decisive, forward-leaning leadership is hard to find. It exists but not in the percentages found among military leaders. Civilians generally do not have positive examples and, with few exceptions, do not receive training in leadership. And yet, civilian employees crave and are drawn to this type of strong leadership. The military also has a culture of mentorship, self-improvement, and team. This is exactly the sort of company environment that most employees would tell you they want to work in. Positive, fair, decisive, forward leaning leadership combined with that sort of team culture will produce a business with loyal, dedicated employees who enjoy coming to work. And those traits impact the bottom-line.
  1. Accelerated Education:
Service members are expected to learn things quickly, whether it is in a military school, in unit training, or during on-the-job training. This fact gives Veterans an aptitude for accelerated learning. They develop this attribute out of necessity but it is a skill set that is easily transferred to civilian success. As a Veteran, I would challenge you that you could become an expert in almost anything in 30 days with the right resources, instruction, and desire. Today, most of these resources are found for free on the Internet. So….what do you want to be an expert in? Want to start a coffee shop but know nothing about coffee? That certainly won’t hold you back because you can learn and learn fast.
  1. Force Multipliers:
Veterans have several force multipliers that make entrepreneurship possibly easier. Retiree and medically separated Veterans are getting some income due to their service. This gives them a little better runway than their civilian counterpart even in the absence of a large savings reserve. In the entrepreneur game runway is everything. Veterans also have some benefits that reduce their expenses such as access to medical services, small business assistance and education, and GI Bill just to name a few. Veterans are also to “embracing the suck.” They are used to austere conditions and situations. Entrepreneurship has it ups and downs. It is during those down times that your experience should give you the intestinal fortitude to not quit. Rick Yost is a veteran, a former armor officer and airborne ranger. He recently started VeteransList.US to Help Veteran owned businesses be found.

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The quality individuals and business acumen of other vets participating in mission entrepreneur have been really amazing. Mentors and coaches are approachable, and immensely helpful with my business!
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