Resilience, ambition, leadership, persistence, teamwork, organization, courage – all words that come to mind when thinking of our armed forces. The brave men and women who serve their country embody these characteristics daily, which can also be applied to business.
“The barriers [to starting a business] may be even more serious amongst the wounded, injured and sick, yet the spirit and tenacity to succeed is perhaps even greater.”
You can only learn so much about business in a classroom, the life experience of serving in the military is invaluable. The military equips veterans with skills and a mindset that can be readily applied in employment and especially small businesses. When servicemen and women leave the military, they have access to finance through X-Forces and charities on hand. They guide them into various career possibilities; entrepreneurship is just one of these options, but an important one. In the United States, veterans own 9% of all stateside firms and are 45% more likely to start up their own business. This is in comparison to non-veterans according to The Guardian. It’s important to recognise the attributes and characteristics that make veterans so successful.
Many of the military’s core values like self-reliance and a strong drive to achieve goals carry over into business. Similarly to athletes, the high stakes environments that veterans can find themselves in during their service make their quick thinking skills, and ability to look beyond a hard situation, key characteristics. The regiment, organisation and discipline of the armed forces encourage individuals to be organized and diligent people. These individuals are well versed in routine and management – all of which are components to a successful business.
As Chris Gosselin mentions in his article on American veteran entrepreneurs, veterans are “mission oriented” and focused on completing their goal, something that any small businesses need to be effective. Not only are they mission oriented, but they are also good at dealing with high pressure situations. When the sole responsibility of a business rests on one person’s shoulders, the ability to solve tasks, meet goals and deadlines, or deal with tricky situations is invaluable.
Risk calculation is also a skill many members of the military develop, which is an incredibly valuable skill to have when assessing the potential of a small businesses. Whether that risk be financial or simply the business itself, the ability to calculate risk and make rational, smart decisions is vital.
Many veterans look to start their own business when they come out of the forces, which is why organisations like X-Forces exist to allow them to realise their dream. Charities such as Help for Heroes and ABF The Soldier’s Charity have recognised this need, and fund successful programmes for the wounded, injured and sick and the wider Armed Forces Community. Roughly twenty new registrations to X-Forces a day is a testament to the Armed Forces desire to become entrepreneurs.
“Our career recovery team supports veterans looking to identify and achieve a new role, following their transition out of service.” – Susan Turnbull, Director of People Strategy at Help for Heroes.
With the combination of skill sets and a strong desire to start up their own business, it is no wonder some of the world’s leading businesses were started by veterans. Frederick Smith, founder of FedEx was a former Marine Corps officer, and Nike co-founder Phil Knight served in the U.S. Army. The leadership and teamworking ethos of the military are engrained in FedEx’s core values according to Frederick Smith in his article for Military.com.
“Much of our success reflects what I learned as a Marine. The basic principles of leading people are the bedrock of the Corps. I can still recite them from memory, and they are firmly embedded in the FedEx culture.” – Frederick Smith.
Veterans have a strong support system of charities and networks to support them. They also have the desire and skill set developed in the armed forces to make them incredibly successful entrepreneurs.
“Each unique X-Forces business demonstrates the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of the Armed Forces. We are incredibly lucky to work with this inspiring community, and they will always be the core of our achievements.”