3 Hot Transition Tips for Aspiring Veteran Entrepreneurs

Photo courtesy of IVMF.
Military.com | By Sean Mclain Brown

Syracuse University knows a thing or two about educating veterans, an expertise it has been building since starting its veteran outreach efforts after World War I.

So what’s the secret to a smooth transition? Dr. Mike Haynie, the university’s vice chancellor who founded and directs its military-focused program, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), and IVMF’s spokeswoman Stephanie Salanger shared some of their best tips with Military.com.

1. Tap into Your Military Experience

Job-seeking veterans often experience a disconnect between their military skill set and skills needed in the civilian workforce.

Almost 60% of veterans consider translating their military skills to be a major challenge in post-service life. While some skills, such as artillery and infantry expertise, may not be transferable or relevant, it is important for aspiring veteran entrepreneurs to focus less on hard military skills and more on the traits and strengths that made them successful during their time in uniform. Qualities such as strong leadership experience, a can-do attitude, and the ability to perform under pressure are all core principles of the military, and also critical to entrepreneurial success.

Related: Search for Veteran Jobs

2. Utilize Your Resources

It can be difficult to tap your military experience if you are unsure of how to talk about it in civilian terms. That is where the numerous resources available to veteran entrepreneurs come into play. Do your research on what is available and which resources best address your business needs. There is a wide variety of resources available, such as financial, business planning, marketing, and more.

Many programs run through the IVMF are also available at no-cost not only to veterans but to their spouses as well.

IVMF programs deliver educational and vocational training, resources and support to veteran entrepreneurs, whether they are in the ideation, start-up, sustain or growth phase of their business venture, while program events offer the opportunity to network and build mentorship connections. Honing your business and networking skills, on top of your personal strengths as a veteran, will better position you for entrepreneurial success.

3. Define Success for Yourself

In the military, a successful mission is easily and clearly defined, while success as an entrepreneur is more fluid and subjective.

Veteran entrepreneurship offers many different definitions of success. Take time to consider what being successful in your new venture means. Will you feel successful when you have built your business to a place where you can employ a fellow veteran? When you have grown your business to a sustainable place and are able to give back to your community, military or otherwise?

Creating your own definition of success is one of the first entrepreneurial tasks any business owner tackles, but for veterans, who often have intrinsic value-based goals in addition to profit and margin objectives, it is especially critical.

If you’re interested in becoming an entrepreneur, visit IMVF for all the programs it offers.

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-- Sean Mclain Brown can be reached at sean.brown@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @seanmclainbrown.