Veterans Succeeding as Entrepreneurs
Veterans have a lot of skills and qualities that can make for a good entrepreneur.
If you're a veteran and struggling to find a job, you might want to consider the path of entrepreneurship. Running your own business isn't for everyone - it can be a tough job with long hours and sometimes unpredictable income. It can also be very rewarding.
From the show
Let’s talk about veteran entrepreneurs.
I read an article the other day that said veteran unemployment is nearly twice the civilian unemployment rate. That’s crazy. Being a vet gives you so many skills that your civilian counterparts don’t have, getting a job should be a breeze. The problem is that your civilian counterparts had time after high school to go to college, or a trade school, or start a job and work their way up the ranks while you were serving in the military. Employers don’t want to train you how to do a job. They don’t want to hire someone who is in their late 30s or 40s to start working where they can get an 18 year old to do the same job for a lot less pay.
So what does all that have to do with veteran entrepreneurs? As a veteran, you have a tremendous amount of skills that can make you a great entrepreneur. So, why struggle with finding a traditional job if you can make your own?
I know running a business isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth considering if you have even the slightest interest in it.
Let’s look at some of the qualities veterans have and how you can leverage those qualities or skills as an entrepreneur.
Veterans are great at managing risk. Granted, being an entrepreneur likely won’t have the same life and death consequences that you might have faced in the military, but running a business has a fair amount of financial and other risks. Many other entrepreneurs are very risk averse - they avoid risks at all costs. This can hurt them because they don’t take advantage of the rewards of taking a calculated risk.
For example, veterans are taught how to plan for missions. All the possible scenarios are put into play so that we aren’t caught off guard. Imagine you are bidding on a project. In the bidding process, you’ll probably research what it would take to complete the project on time and on budget. You’ll know the resources you need, and you’ll also know to anticipate mistakes that might cause setbacks. You’ll come up with goals for the project, so you can identify if the project has gone off course early on so you can correct it.
Veterans are also good at getting things done with limited resources. This is a huge asset to have as an entrepreneur. When you first get started, you’ll probably be wearing many hats. In my business, I’ve been everything from the boss to the janitor to the accountant and everything in between. A huge asset is being able to prioritize projects or tasks. Identifying which thing to work on in your business can be a big benefit.
I saw a picture on social media the other day of a soldier holding an MRE cracker with a list of things the squad needed written on it in pen. Notably, one of the things on the list was not “a notepad”, but it was creative nonetheless. The squad needed to put together a list of things they needed, and they did despite having nothing else to write on. In a business setting, you might need to figure out a way to finish a job with the resources that you have available to you. It may not be an ideal situation, but you still need to get the job done.
Veterans are also great at operating under pressure. Nothing teaches that better than the old saying from marksmanship training “slow is smooth and smooth is fast”. When you’re shooting, if you’re wild and out of control, you’ll never hit your target. It’s better to slow down and aim carefully so you’ll hit your target. Just like running a business. If you make fast, rash decisions when customers are calling up to complain about something you’ll have trouble seeing the big picture. Instead, you’d slow down and figure out what the problem actually is so you treat the real problem instead of just the symptoms that is causing the problem.
Business owners need to be proactive, have self-discipline, be a problem solver, and have leadership abilities. Veterans check the box on all of those qualities.
I want to talk about an organization that’s run by my parents. It’s called BRAVE, which stands for Business Reviews and Advisors to Veteran Entrepreneurs. While my parents never served in the military, they always had respect and appreciation for those who have. They realized that the country does a great job at teaching vets how to put the uniform on, but there is a lot left to be done in teaching vets how to take the uniform off. My father has run a consulting business since 2001. Prior to that he worked as an executive at a large corporation. His consulting business has worked with many household names and have helped their leadership think differently about how to optimize their business. Through BRAVE, he and other advisors are offering free advice to veteran entrepreneurs. No matter where you are with your business, whether you just have an idea for a business, or you’ve been slowly growing for a few years BRAVE can help review your business plan, and help set you on the right path for business success. BRAVE is not a 501c3 non-profit - it does not solicit donations or accept financial compensation of any type. Through this organization, my parents simply are trying to give back to those who sacrificed so much for our country. If you want to learn more about BRAVE, visit the number 4 the brave dot org. 4thebrave.org I’ll link to that in the show notes. Thanks for listening.
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