September 21, 2017
How Our Veterans Are Making Waves in the World of Business
Now more than ever, the country turns to those who are willing to sacrifice their lives for us. Be it in the aftermath of natural disasters like hurricanes Harvey and Irma, or as the 16th anniversary of the 9-11 attack reminds us, those who have fought for our country overseas. While it is unfortunate that many veterans face hard times when they leave military service, a growing number are making waves in the world of business by leading the charge to transform the American economy in the 21st century.
Teamwork and Values
As the saying goes there is no ‘I’ in team and this mindset permeates all branches of the military. Why not? When one’s life is on the line they have no choice to pull together to make sure that the ‘mission’ is achieved.
For many military leaders cum business leaders, this is a lesson they have taken with them. While challenges remain, no other organization in the country brings together people from divergent backgrounds like the military and for this reason many veterans have grown to appreciate the experience and how they can apply it in their civilian lives.
Granted, this doesn’t mean that CEOs such as Charles Phillips, who is a former Marine Captain, are going to put their employees through 12 weeks at Paris Island. But they can use the experience of building and maintaining teams centered on common values to lead their companies forward in a highly competitive marketplace.
It is estimated that more than 3.6 million Americans have served in the military since the attacks on September 11, 2001, in New York and Washington. This represents the single largest mobilization since World War II and while many of these citizens have had to go through the horrors of war they have also gained experience which they have taken with them into business.
In fact, the training that these men and women have received helps to prepare them for the trials of life in business. Granted, no one is shooting at you but the ability to manage the bureaucracy of life in the military while achieving a stated goal is invaluable to coming out on top in the corporate world.
One example of this is the story of RallyPoint which aims to become LinkedIn for military circles. The company was founded by two veterans who originally met in Iraq and then crossed paths again at Harvard Business School. The goal of the company to provide the military communities the tools it needs to be successful and then much of this is driven by the experiences of the company’s founders.
Not only has the experience for Rally Point’s founders led to a business idea, but they have also relied on what they have learned to build a team of engineers and data scientists to help the company grow.
One unfortunate aspect of leaving the military is that the job market tends to be less than welcoming. Per the Center for Research and Public Policy, the country’s more than 21 million veterans tend to face higher rates of unemployment when compared to the general population.
While there are several causes for this phenomenon, it does mean that a growing number of veterans are choosing to start their own businesses instead of looking for a job. In fact, the research found that those veterans who had previously served in active duty situations tended to be nearly 50 percent more likely to start their own business.
One potential reason for this is that veterans tend to be more able to tolerate risk than those in the general population. Another reason is that they are able put potential setbacks into perspective while continuing to focus on the long-term picture.
This is a big plus for the economy as JP Morgan estimates that veteran-owned businesses account for nearly 1 million jobs. But it is not just the jobs that these companies create. In fact, many veteran-owned businesses tend to be more supportive of their communities. An example of this is Sure Mobility, which donates 1 percent of all its sales to The Wounded Warrior Project and Project Mend.
Both of these charities help veterans cope with a return to civilian life and this engagement helps to build stronger communities – which in turn creates the opportunity for more veterans to go into business.
Veterans are not just impacting small businesses and social causes but they are working to shape the economy of the future. One example of this is the maker movement. While makers have been around forever, it has coalesced into a global movement in recent years and one of the leaders is Mark Hatch who is a former green beret.
As you see veterans are making waves in the world of business and their leadership, values, experience, and willingness to take risks are helping to make sure that American companies will continue to set the direction that businesses in other countries will want to follow.