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Why Veterans Take the Initiative to Explore Entrepreneurship

By March 8, 2017January 24th, 2022No Comments

I still carry the U.S. Army Leadership Guide in my work bag. In it, initiative is listed as one of the desirable traits of a leader. It’s defined as “a quality of seeing what has to be done and commencing on a course of action.”

As I think about what I’ve learned after training hundreds of military entrepreneurs, my first reaction is to restate all that we know about military veterans. In general, we know that veterans have the unique experience of military service, often gained under very demanding conditions. From this we, as veterans, mold commonly referred-to traits like dependability, commitment to a cause greater than ourselves, love for our fellow comrades in arms regardless of their background or ethnicity, and a drive to succeed against all odds — into attributes that benefit us as entrepreneurs. While anyone can argue that these traits are the core DNA that make any entrepreneur succeed, it is the initiative trait that surfaces and stands out among veteran entrepreneurs.

Initiative begins when veterans first explore entrepreneurship. We know our military service has made us different from our civilian peers, but we can’t put a finger on why we’re so different, even when we take off the uniform. But, over time we notice that we see the world differently. Given the same set of facts, we see different opportunities than our non-military neighbors. When it comes time to earning a living and finding our way in society, veterans seem to have a greater tendency to lean towards creating their own destiny. Entrepreneurship starts to appeal to us. We take the initiative to consider it.