It should come as no surprise that more than one in 10 U.S. business owners are military veterans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While veterans are often touted as great employees, they truly shine when they are building their own businesses. Keep reading to find out why veterans' experiences and skillsets are ideally suited for the challenges of entrepreneurship.
The ability to successfully work in a team is essential for entrepreneurs who want their businesses to expand beyond sole proprietorships. As important as teamwork is, many business owners struggle to communicate, trust other members, and relinquish control.
With teamwork being a key component of military culture, veterans have a clear advantage in this area. Members of the military train and carry out their duties within a group. Their success often depends on how well the team performs, so they learn to trust others and provide added support if one member falls short. Bringing this attitude to a business creates stronger bonds and encourages higher levels of performance among other team members – all of which leads to better results.
Even a CEO with the best ideas and a wealth of knowledge can struggle due to poor leadership abilities. Great leadership allows entrepreneurs to develop solid growth strategies, motivate their employees, and deliver many intangibles that affect a business's trajectory.
Members of the military take leadership seriously and believe in placing the needs of their followers ahead of their own. The stakes are high and their leadership decisions can impact the physical well being and lives of their team members.
Entrepreneurs who are veterans are more prepared to take on the responsibility of supporting the numerous needs of a business's employees. Veterans provide a selfless brand of leadership that often inspires hard work and loyalty.
Working for yourself means nobody is looking over your shoulder to ensure that you stay on task and focused. While it's normal for professionals to get distracted from time to time, entrepreneurs are often wearing a dozen different hats and need high levels of discipline to accomplish everything a growing business requires.
Discipline is one of the first qualities that come to mind when people think of military veterans. Applying this discipline on a consistent basis can translate to greater productivity and faster growth that may mean the difference between a business's success and failure.
Performance Under Pressure
Pressure is a constant reality for entrepreneurs, whether they're trying to attract their first customers or they're presenting to angel investors. This pressure typically spills over into other parts of a business owner's life. For example, if an entrepreneur can't fulfill a purchase order, she loses her largest vendor, which means she won't make a profit and can't support her family for the month. Entrepreneurs may have the added stress of being unable to delegate or lean on anyone else – particularly in the initial stages of their businesses.
Many military veterans have faced the highest levels of pressure and responsibility, so they're often well equipped to handle the stresses of entrepreneurship while remaining functional and effective.
Willingness to Sacrifice
Every entrepreneur's journey is different, but sacrifice is almost always a part of the roadmap to success. Entrepreneurs – whether they're ultimately successful or not – may have to give up their social lives, quality time spent with family members, financial security, and even sleep.
Sacrifice is also a central aspect of military service. Some veterans were stationed far away from their families, others relocated frequently and some faced the possibility of making the ultimate sacrifice.
When the time comes to give up certain comforts and conveniences to help their businesses grow, veterans-turned-entrepreneurs are up for the challenge.
These are just a few of the major strengths former military members have when pursuing entrepreneurship. Each veteran's combination of experiences and perspectives give them a unique set of tools for turning their business ideas and aspirations into successful ventures.
Source: Fact about more than one in ten veterans being business owners (you have to download the census report on the page).