What is Preventing More Veteran Entrepreneurship?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Veterans understate, investors don’t quite understand. Here’s how we can resolve this.

The job of every entrepreneur is to tell their story in a way that investors, banks and other interested parties will understand and believe in it. Veteran entrepreneurs struggle to do this.

Why? The culture of the military is not an “I” culture, it is a “we” culture and it is a “team” culture. Selling an entrepreneurial idea tends to be very selfish, and veterans do not speak that way.

There can be a translation problem when getting veteran entrepreneurs’ ideas off the ground. Generally, investors and bankers do not know what to make of military experience or how to translate that into appropriate work experience. From the perspective of an investor, veterans lack the usual extensive education or business experience, but in reality, their military experience is an outstanding qualification.

In the military, when you get your badge, it becomes your military occupational specialty (MOS). When you get your MOS, you are held accountable for being experts in your field. The members of your unit count on you when it comes to that area of expertise. So it is critical that you are autonomous and accountable in the subject. You must be mission-oriented. Success in the military is measured by accomplishing the mission, and there’s no accomplishing the mission without working as a team.

In your field, you get a great sense of what works and what does not. Many veterans realize that their job could be executed more efficiently, and that their new ideas can be applied to companies and industries outside of the military.

Those skills and concepts lend themselves incredibly well to starting and running a business. Throughout their military experience, anywhere from six to more than 20 years, veterans have been shaped with the team-oriented mentality. Even outside of duty, they pass credit to the team, rather than to themselves. Not all investors understand the experience and veteran entrepreneurs do not know how to communicate it in a way that makes them sound fully qualified and capable. This is a big hurdle to overcome.

To solve this misperception, investors should understand that they may have to peel the onion back a few more layers to know what the veteran is truly bringing to the table. But it’s a two-way street. Veterans also need to learn how to better communicate their experience. We can teach them how to do this with groups like Bunker Labs. We need to help veterans understand that it’s okay to promote themselves and it’s okay to make bold statements that they are going to do something and that they are going to lead the way to make that happen.

We underestimate how prepared veterans are to be leaders. It’s been proven time and again that veterans’ have the focus, discipline and ability to leads teams, develop expertise, generate ideas and bring those ideas to fruition. If we can eliminate the translation problem, there is no limit to what veterans can accomplish in entrepreneurship.


Team Hero