I recently had a conversation with a prominent business consultant for a national diversity supplier council. At the onset of our talk, he thanked me for my service with the US Navy and made a remark I had never given much thought to before. He said it was his experience that veterans tend to make successful entrepreneurs after finishing their stint with the military.
We kicked that topic around for about an hour and then ended our phone call. His comment resonated with me so much that it prompted me to consider his statement further and to encourage my military brothers and sisters who have become entrepreneurs and those thinking about becoming one. Here’s a look at three key reasons veterans often have what it takes to become successful entrepreneurs.
1. Veterans are highly disciplined
Without a doubt, military members are trained to be highly disciplined. From our earliest days at boot camp with those hideous haircuts, ungodly 3 am wake-ups, all of that marching around and seemingly non-stop PT (physical training) –– everything was about discipline. And you know what? The expectation that I would continue to be a highly disciplined person never diminished with my tenure; if anything, it increased.
Successful entrepreneurs are also highly disciplined. Whereas an employee may be able to get away with no discipline and continue to receive a paycheck, entrepreneurs have no such luxury. Everything ultimately rests on their broad shoulders.
I know from experience how it feels to run a startup. Think back to when you first started your company; how many times did you not feel like doing the things that would be vital to your success? In those moments, it was self-discipline that pushed you forward. Without it, you wouldn’t be the success you are today.
2. Veterans are committed
Try to imagine, if you can, a Navy SEAL or US Marine not completing the mission because their 8-hour shift was over. It’s an absurd notion –– one you probably can’t imagine. I know that I can’t.
Why? Because we know they are committed and accept responsibility to complete the overall objective. While every member of the US Armed Forces does not serve on Special Forces, we are trained to be committed and accept responsibility for the role we play in the success of the mission.
Veterans are committed to the success of the command, its members, and those the command served. We never shirk our responsibility. We have been trained to succeed and to get the job done.
No excuses. No matter what. Failure is simply not an option.
Successful entrepreneurs share these same qualities. They are committed to transferring their innermost dreams, from the ether of their hearts, into reality. They understand and accept 100% responsibility for their success. Failure is not a viable option.
This is not to say entrepreneurs won’t fail at some things. Failure is a natural part of the human learning process. Instead, failure refers to ultimate failure. Give up and throw in the towel-type failure. This type of failure is not an option for a successful entrepreneur.
3. Veterans have a “Mission First” mentality
In the military, everything revolves around the mission of the command. Whether that entails engineering inspections, 4-hours of Field Day cleaning, classroom training, or at-sea combat exercises with allied naval forces, at the heart of it all is our mission. As a result, we develop a “Mission First” mentality.
Nothing is more important than the command’s mission. Our lifestyles are centered around it, and all of our plans are made concerning milestone mission events.
Successful entrepreneurs understand the need for such a mentality. Nothing is more important than successfully birthing their company and developing it into a thriving business. This attribute is a driving force that helps the entrepreneur to put things in a proper perspective and keep moving forward.
Every company begins with a particular mission in the heart of the entrepreneur. Another way to look at this is that your company began as a solution to a particular need. The mission is the “why” and successful entrepreneurs don’t lose sight of that. This is also the importance of having a clearly stated mission statement. A “Mission First” mentality won’t allow you to be sidetracked and ultimately derailed from achieving your overall objectives.
Please remember, if you’ve served as an Armed Forces member, you are a highly-skilled and resourceful individual. You have so much inside of you to offer that will help you to succeed in your new mission. For you, failure is simply not an option.
Mike Dillard is a Business Development Coach, Entrepreneur and Author of the series, “The Facility Maintenance Cheat Sheet: Vol. I”. He is also the owner of iOn Reliability Training & Consulting, a Honolulu-based training and consulting company that provides training solutions for companies of any type and industry.
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