A “Veterpreneur” is an entrepreneur that is also a veteran who has served in one of the branches of the armed forces. Veterpreneurs tend to have a much higher success rate than other start-up owners because of what we learned in the military about discipline, self-leadership and tenacity.Tweet This
In 2007, the U.S. Census reported that 9% of all American businesses were owned by veterans, and that number has undoubtedly grown. While Veterans make up only about 8% of the U.S. population, they make up a comparatively large percentage of business owners.
The desire to own a business and the veteran-owned business success rate have to do with the desire to continue to lead even after we leave the military. It’s hard to get that in a corporate environment where most veterans start at the bottom to work their way up the ladder. Once we start our own businesses, our abilities and tenacity that we learned in the military automatically kicks in and we take on the attitude that we cannot fail.
Here are 3 key attributes of Veterpreneurs that we learned in the military and how we apply them to building and running our businesses:
1. Self Leadership is Key to Success as an Entrepreneur
Any member of the military will tell you the same thing: we learn self-leadership before we learn anything else. If you can’t make it leading yourself in the military, you won’t last. How does one get taught self-leadership to the extent that it is integrated into our DNA? By learning things like making your bed, not just once in 60 seconds but 100 times; folding your underwear a certain way; and placing your toiletries in your locker drawer spaced evenly apart and perfectly line up. Consistently failing at these simple things meant you weren’t able to handle the bigger responsibilities like firing a weapon, properly donning a gas mask or making a split second life and death decision. Mastering self-leadership skills keeps us focused on a never-give-up attitude as an entrepreneur. We will keep going even in the face of failure where others will give up.
2. Seek Guidance and Team Building
Most veterans who don’t know how to do something will seek an expert to help them. We aren’t too proud to ask for help or seek training in areas that we don’t know about. We also have no problem bringing on team members who know more about something than we do or will do a much better job at it. We have plenty of experience working with high performing teams. The military is a high performing team and we know how to be part of one and how to form one. We thrived in the small group environment and transfer that same know-how over to operating a business. As we grow into leadership, we can recognize a good team when we see it and are quick to cut someone loose if they aren’t the right fit. We don’t take long to rectify a bad decision and own up to our mistakes. We typically do an After Action Report after executing any project to look at what worked, what didn’t and what can be done to improve next time.
3. Done Right, First Time, On Time
Veterepreneurs learned this concept during their time in the service. It may not have been this exact phrase, but it was this concept. We learn how to get things done right the first time on time. If there is a failure we do an investigation to find out why it happened, correct it, ensure it doesn’t happen again and press on. We rarely stay in the failure space beating ourselves up for the failure, there isn’t time for that. Striving for this result in the beginning makes it more likely that we succeed sooner, faster and with greater accuracy. Done right also means we do it right even in the little things. You won’t see a veteran leaving the shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot at a store. When you master the little things, it carries over into the bigger things.
How can the everyday person who didn’t have the training a veteran had become as disciplined in their business? Start with putting the shopping cart back or making your bed everyday. Mastering and being committed to something that seems so small will go a long way to honing your ability to be disciplined. Don’t accept the “good enough” concept. Doing something good enough means you are ok with it being less than excellent. Shooting for excellence will increase your ability to achieve accuracy and top performance in your business.
Make sure you do an “After Action Report” for your projects. I run a 3-day training twice a year. After the 3-day training, I take my team to dinner and we talk about what worked, what didn’t and what can be improved for next time. You need to do this follow up right away while the information is still fresh. During a project have your team members take notes as they go along if they see something that worked or didn’t work.
These are a few simple steps to start you on the path to being a more disciplined business owner. If you want to get some of the military know-how into the DNA of your business, hire a veteran. It will boost your business both in growth and potential. The Power is in The Work!
Photo Credit: charlinjanene, Twenty20