Why do veterans make the best entrepreneurs?
SPONSORED CONTENT: American Military University
By Wes O’Donnell
When most people think of an entrepreneur, we imagine someone that was born with business in their bones; inspiring individuals like Steve Jobs, who revolutionize our world for generations to come. But the truth of the matter is that entrepreneurship can be taught and learned, assuming you’re mentally ready to make the jump. In addition, if you’re a US Military Veteran, then you already possess many of the skills that make successful entrepreneurs, well… successful.
So, what do revolutionary entrepreneurs Sergey Brin, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and the late Steve Jobs have in common with US Military Veterans? Both groups exhibit traits such as:
- A high tolerance for ambiguity
- The stomach to take risks
- A high degree of self-confidence
- Overly-optimistic outlooks
- Relying extensively on their own intuition
Controlling Fear of Failure
Jack Nason, CEO and Founder of Nason Inc. knows all about the similarities between military experience and running a startup. “The real fight of entrepreneurship takes place in the battlefield of the mind,” says Nason, a Gulf War veteran and successful small business owner of a transportation company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “The military taught me to control fear and not let fear control me. This was invaluable in the early stages of my startup; fear of running out of cash, fear of losing my house, fear of humiliation and defeat.”
Mr. Nason says that it was his disciplined mind, a byproduct of his military experience that saw him through the bumpy first year of starting a company. “I just thought of the worse-case-scenario for my business, which at the time was that I’ll go bankrupt, lose my house and have to move in with extended family. Then I convinced myself that the worse-case wasn’t so bad after all. I had to power through that fear.”
Adapting to Changing Conditions
Another key trait of many high-performing entrepreneurs is the ability to adapt to ever-changing conditions to stay profitable. Neil Cox, founder of Dallas, Texas based telecom firm VidTek and Afghanistan combat veteran states “Large companies are like a cruise ship; when they need to change directions, they move forward for a long time before slowly starting to turn. You have to be like a jet-ski and turn on a dime if need be.” Cox credits his military experience and the need to be flexible and adaptable to changing conditions in a combat environment to his success as an entrepreneur.
“We sell videoconferencing gear to the US Government,” Cox says, “and when the government shutdown in October of 2013, it almost killed us. We were able to pivot and repackage some of our equipment to sell to other businesses very quickly and that flexibility saved us.”
Since the Global War on Terror began 13 years ago, nearly 3 million Americans have served on active duty. Many of these men and women are transitioning from a life of military service into the civilian world and discovering, much to their dismay, that it’s very difficult to secure meaningful employment. In some states, the veteran unemployment rate is triple that of their civilian counterparts.
So, what is the answer?
In the course of military training, the government has inadvertently conditioned veterans to be successful entrepreneurs. Perhaps now is the time to employ yourself and show the world why the US Military is the best anvil on the planet to forge an unbreakable entrepreneur. Now may be the time to jump.
Wes O’Donnell is the author of “RISE! The Veteran’s Field Manual For Starting Your Own Business & Conquering The Online Economy.” Mr. O’Donnell graduated from American Military University with his MBA and a focus on IT Management. He is currently the Founder and CEO of MD-Advantages Healthcare, Founder of both Modern Workspace Furniture and a veteran resource website called WarriorLodge.com and holds the US Patent on the OmniCart™ Modular Medical Cart System. Mr. O’Donnell served in both the US Army Infantry and The US Air Force as a RADAR engineer.