We've been working with hundreds of fellow veterans and active duty members of the military since VetToCEO was launched in 2013. As a result of our work, we often get asked for our opinion about how military service translates into skills needed for success as an entrepreneur. In other words, why would a veteran have any better chance of being successful than a non-veteran? Good question!
I boil it down to three things:
#1 We're crazy to begin with. There are at least three decisions we make in life where the majority of our friends and family respond with "Are you ______ nuts?". Here they are:
"I'm going to marry that girl (or guy)!"
"I'm going to start my own business!"
"I'm joining the military!"
Less than 1% of us join the military, yet about 9% of the small businesses are owned by veterans in this country. So by joining the military - usually before we make those two other decisions - we've identified ourselves as nuts early in life. We take the path less travelled. Joining the military and becoming an entrepreneur are two paths that most in life don't take.
#2. We get used to "WTF". No, not that WTF. WTF in this context means "willing to fail". Not everyone gets a trophy in the military. The more high speed and demanding the job you have, the more this is true. Training in the military is all about trying things we never thought we could do individually and as part of a team but learning how to do them. The training model is basically try, fail at it, get coached on how to do it right, try it again until you get it right. Entrepreneurship is no different. Running a business is all about surviving an endless stream of setbacks and failures, getting up and trying again until you get it right, until ultimately you're successful. If you're not used to that, then entrepreneurship isn't right for you. Most veterans are used to that.
#3. Mission First mentality. Accomplishing a military mission requires working with many stakeholders. The mission always comes first and our team has to accomplish the mission. In the military, it's unit accomplishments always and it's not about "me". We work with subordinates, peers, senior leaders, local civilians, elements from other units and many others to get the job done. And we get to do it all under tremendous pressure - even sometimes while getting shot at. Running a business is a cakewalk compared to managing a military unit during a live operation. The mental model of accomplishing a mission under tremendous pressure that the military give us never leaves us. Decison-making skills are honed especially. As a result, most veterans don't shake in their boots when they have to get bankers, investors, lawyers, accountants, their employees, and customers all working together to be successful when they become entrepreneurs.
The VetToCEO program starts with the premise that all of us veterans have these three things. We augment that with stuff you have to know that we don't get in the military - like finance, marketing and cash. So join us by signing up for our 18th cohort at this URL. It's free and exclusively for veterans and active duty military. Join us!