Veteran-owned small businesses and startups don’t often get the attention they deserve. Not only do veterans make awesome small business owners, but they’re also pretty good at it. The current 3 million veteran-owned small businesses in the U.S. employ around 5.7 million people, an amount that equates to more than $210 billion in annual payroll and nearly $1.2 trillion in sales.
The growing trend of veteran-owned small businesses is what we call a win-win situation, with gains across the board – veterans make a living for themselves and family, doing what they enjoy, and the economy benefits from a nice little boost.
Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Grow Exponentially
In fact, out of all American-owned small businesses, 30% of them are owned by veterans. The really amazing thing about this statistic is that the percentage of veterans in the U.S. population – just 8% – can account for nearly a third of all small businesses.
What we see is a group of well-trained, highly motivated individuals with money to invest in a small company and a desire to do something meaningful with their lives after leaving military service. It’s the perfect recipe for a successful small business owner.
“The lessons learned and lived in military service like leadership, teamwork, competitive spirit, mission-orientation and ambition are the same attributes needed to succeed in business.” – NaVOBA
Why Veterans Make Excellent Entrepreneurs
Veterans possess more of the entrepreneurial personality traits than the general population, according to a 2009 study on veterans in business. Some of these traits are inherent and some are learned through military experience. Veterans make excellent entrepreneurs. Here’s why.
Small group leadership
Veterans are adept at leading small groups. Leadership is taught to every recruit, even those that may not end up in leadership positions. Throughout their military careers, veterans lead small platoons and groups of people. Some have experience leading larger groups, and those that have been in combat have led teams in environments where the stakes are as high as they can get. The ability to lead under stress is a trait many veterans possess.
When you’ve been on the winning team, it’s almost impossible to be satisfied playing for a losing team. Veterans are strong competitors that enjoy the challenge and adrenaline of a good competition. The competitive nature of business makes them well-suited for entrepreneurship.
But veterans aren’t sore losers – military recruits learn to deal with failure early on and know that failure only strengthens leadership skills when you’re open to seeking new knowledge. Finding out what went wrong and how to ensure it doesn’t go wrong again is a strong point in entrepreneurial veterans.
The military doesn’t work without teamwork, and every recruit is taught to understand and use the benefits of working as a team as opposed to working alone. Military recruits learn about teamwork both in strategy and on the battlefield. Teamwork is an integral part of owning any business, but owning a small business or startup may provide veterans with more opportunities to work closely with others in an effective way.
The military gets things done. The armed forces teach recruits the importance of goal-setting and goal-directed behavior. Simply joining the military in the first place is evidence that veterans aren’t afraid to take difficult action when a goal needs to be met.
A flyer on the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) states, “American soldiers get more done by 9 a.m. than most people do in a day” and urges people to buy from veteran-owned small businesses.
Veterans that own small businesses and startups give us another reason to say “Thank you!” Here’s to veterans’ continued success in business and finding new ways to apply concepts learned in military training to our civilian world.