Becoming an entrepreneur requires courage, commitment, innovation and a high-risk tolerance, as any businessperson will tell you. As strange as it may sound, many of those same qualities can be found in the United States Military. As AJ Agrawal writes for Inc., “Risk taking, self-confidence, commitment, motivation, determination, time management, and the allocation of resources are seen in both war and business, but transcending from the former to the latter allows a living to be made away from such dangerous terrain.”
The idea of veterans as entrepreneurs is not new. In fact, as Forbes writer Mark L. Rockefeller points out, “A shocking 49% of World War II veterans went on to own or operate their own businesses, according to a study from Syracuse University.” Yes, for generations, veterans have made great entrepreneurs.
From the Battlefield to Business
Veterans have a lot to offer the world of business. Rockefeller writes, “Vetrepreneurs do things differently. They apply lessons from military service to business. They unflinchingly handle risk. They rely on a tight-knit network of their fellow veterans for support and encouragement. And they understand perseverance like no other group of individuals in the country.”
The lessons learned in military training and overseas in combat situations are like weight training for business. Business is risky, but battle is riskier. Business is competitive, but not like battle. Huff Post’s Carol Roth quotes Navy SEAL entrepreneur Eli Crane on the relationship between military training and entrepreneurship. “We must have a ‘swim buddy’ with us at all times. If you get caught all by yourself, you’re about to have a rough day.” This kind of training prepares people to work well in teams.
Many of the skills learned in military training are readily transferable to the world of entrepreneurship. Agrawal writes, “In 2014, more than 2.4 million small businesses were owned by a U.S. veteran. Those with active-duty experience were 45% more likely to be self-employed than those without; veterans are more risk-tolerant and can put business failure into perspective.”
When starting and running a business, countless things can go horribly wrong. But as Tom Morkes writes for Task & Purpose, “Veterans are used to things not being the way we want; we’re comfortable under uncertainty and high-pressure situations.” The mental fortitude, flexibility, and drive needed in the military and combat are all skills needed to succeed in business — and veterans have those skills in spades.
Financial Opportunities for Veterans
There are opportunities for veterans-only loans and benefits that allow them to build their business and network with other veterans. Morkes writes, “There are dozens of benefits for veterans starting businesses, including priority for government contracts, access to special grants, and even more opportunities for wounded warriors.”
Military experience is undoubtedly transferable to the world of business and entrepreneurship, and veterans with the right business education can make for some unstoppable businesspeople.
Learn more about Lamar University’s online BBA in Entrepreneurship program.