Founding a small company has become more than just a business strategy in recent years – it has been enshrined as a way of life. Entrepreneurs turning a bright idea into an industry-disrupting force have made their mark on many industries. Joining the ranks of these company founders is an exciting move, and it could be a great career pivot for veterans returning to civilian life from active duty. With the leadership, determination and decision-making skills they honed in the military, vets can tackle the managerial challenges of entrepreneurship and enrich their communities through bold and promising new business ideas.
"No one is more prepared to lead than veterans."
The case for investment
Fortune contributor Chris Gosselin recently urged venture capitalists to back veterans' companies with their funds, explaining that former members of the military have what it takes to found great companies. The author explained that no one in the business sector is more prepared to lead than veterans, due to the intensive training they receive while serving. With an ability to focus on the mission at hand, military members are top-notch decision-makers.
Gosselin pointed out that some of the businesses that have dominated their respective fields were originally founded by veterans. From Nike to Esurance to FedEx, leading organizations have military experience as part of their makeup. The author explained that FedEx founder and CEO Frederick Smith credits his time in the Marine Corps with giving him the principles that have guided his leadership of the firm and its massive expansion over its history.
At present, the number of veterans starting companies is declining rather than increasing. Gosselin lamented this fact and explained that there are programs that can help individuals get started, including entrepreneurship courses and specialty loans. Getting larger venture capital funds involved could deliver tremendous aid to vets considering joining the field, and the results could be great for the firms that take the plunge. The author noted that venture groups led by veterans tend to invest in vet-led companies, seeing good return on investment.
Fighting veteran unemployment with entrepreneurship
Claudia Viek of the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity, contributing to The Huffington Post, explained that some sectors of the veteran population have significantly greater amounts of unemployment than the average. Women and young people are experiencing higher unemployment rates at the moment, which is the same trend observed in the nation as a whole. Viek noted that when opportunities for employment are scarce, founding a small company can help. Vets who begin their own businesses can create circumstances uniquely suited to their particular abilities.
In addition to gaining work in a self-designed environment, a veteran beginning a new company is able to target unique goals. Viek also noted that when vets return from service with unique physical or mental health needs, the standard workforce may be a difficult fit. Founding a company or joining a small enterprise created by a fellow veteran could place an individual in a more suitable setting. Viek stated that with the right coaching, an infusion of capital and connections in their target markets, vets can enter business ownership with confidence.