Veterans to CEOs: Small Business Success

Category: Work
Created on Wednesday, November 19 2014
Written by Veterans Enterprise

Success for transitioning veteransVeterans make great entrepreneurs. In fact veterans own roughly 9% of all American firms and employ roughly six million people with a payroll of $210 billion.

That's just about the number of people who live in cities like Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, or Dallas-Fort Worth. Their military training gave them focus, but it's something inside them that makes them such great soldiers–and entrepreneurs.

1. Managing Risk is Second Nature

Great soldiers and entrepreneurs have learned how to evaluate and manage uncertainty. They both understand how to capitalize on opportunities and mitigate the risk of failure. The Marine Corps teaches their young officers something they call the "70% Solution."

In a nutshell, if you have 70% of the intelligence you think you'll need, 70% of the resources you think you'll need, and feel 70% sure you'll get a positive outcome–go for it. Veterans understand that you never have all the information you need to get positive results on the battlefield.

The same is true for business owners making strategic decisions. A well-executed plan, even if it's imperfect, has a better chance of success than waiting for conditions to be foolproof.

2. Stress Doesn't Get Them Down

Leading a business that is often underfunded or understaffed requires business leaders to deal with the stress and pressure of wearing multiple hats. If they didn't have it going in, it is certainly something the military knows how to teach. Successful entrepreneurs seem better able to cope with the pressure of juggling multiple roles.

3. They Get It Done

Knowing how to execute on the battlefield and in business is critical to success. It's not enough to build a good strategy. Success requires execution–often with limited resources. The ability to prioritize initiatives and tackle those that offer the greatest possibility of success is an invaluable talent that can't be ignored when money and resources are stretched thin. Almost anyone could run a business if getting stuff done was easy.

Veterans bring a lot to the table when it comes to entrepreneurship–things like discipline, perspective, leadership, and the ability to see challenges as opportunities. What's more, entrepreneurship is a great opportunity for veterans. Leveraging the skills developed in the military has helped many veterans find success leading their companies. What are some of the skills you think would help a veteran be a successful business owner?

About the Author

Ty Kiisel is a contributing author at OnDeck, a technology company solving small business's biggest challenge: access to capital.