“Fail often so you can succeed sooner.”
Tom Kelley, Ideo Partner
One particular organization has produced more business owners than any other single institution in our nation’s history. If it is not obvious to you who this organization is, here are a couple more clues to help you figure it out:
- Leadership is a strong suit with this organization…not just talking about it, but teaching and practicing it. This institution also values strategic thinking and planning, promotes innovation and creative problem-solving, and clearly understands that mission execution is the characteristic that separates those who achieve from those who merely dream.
- Although these elements are certainly attributes emphasized in leading business schools, in this particular organization they are imparted less by lecture and more by example. Excellence is modeled daily by those who are committed to making a meaningful difference in the world around them.
Have you figured out the organization and people I am describing? If yes, congrats. If you haven’t, don’t sweat it. I am referring to none other than the United States military.
A Tradition of Leadership Excellence
As the nation continues to reintegrate veterans who have spent much of their careers at war in Afghanistan, Iraq or both, a great deal of focus continues to be placed on veteran unemployment, which, while falling, continues to remain higher than for civilians. But there are a growing group of veterans who aren’t looking for jobs. Rather, they are looking to create them.
According to the most recent data, veteran owned firms employ 5.8 million individuals. A recent Small Business Administration study found that military veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than people with no military experience. In fact, current census data confirms that at least 2.7 million U.S. businesses today are veteran-owned, but experts say the number could very well be twice that amount…and growing.
Like this article? Check out, “Continuing the Mission”
This is not a new phenomenon. For many years, military veterans have become entrepreneurs at a much higher rate than non-veterans. According to a Syracuse University study, a whopping 49% of World War II veterans went on to own or operate their own businesses and in the modern era, the spirit of veteran entrepreneurship that spawned the likes of Wal Mart, Federal Express, ReMax Realtors, GoDaddy, USAA, and WeWork, is alive and well.
The Rise of the Vetrepreneur
This latest vet-centric entrepreneurship movement spreading across America has even spawned a new title, “Vetrepreneur.” Committed to practically applying the lessons learned from the military to business, todays veteran entrepreneurs are transforming the marketplace by channeling the discipline, savvy, and courage learned during their time in service to undertake bold new business pursuits.
And our nation is a better place for it.
Though success in industry never guaranteed for anyone, America’s history is all the richer for the scores of veterans who have chosen to channel their talent and passion into becoming a Vetrepreneur. Men and women whose desire to give the best of themselves in service to an idea, mission or cause larger than themselves are confirming that higher education isn’t the only way to find a place within the ranks of successful business owners.