By: James Elliott 05/07/2015
Entrepreneur: Defined by Merriam- Webster as "one who organizes, manages and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise." What sticks out most to you from this definition? The use of the word 'risks'? It’s the same for me. But what makes an entrepreneur? Is it that passionate drive to be successful? Every entrepreneur is different, which is what makes an entrepreneur, well, an entrepreneur; someone who is able to turn their unique idea into a reality.
What image comes to mind when you think of an entrepreneur? Is it a 20 something year old who is wide eyed and full of fresh ideas? This conception is actually the opposite of the norm. According to a study conducted by The Kauffman Foundation, founders tend to be middle-aged—40 years old on average—when they start their first companies. Interestingly enough, the 20 something year old founder was an outlier. Now, consider this number: 30%. This is the portion of all American businesses owned by veterans. So, while veterans make up only 8% of the U.S. population, they are twice as likely to own a business as the general population.
Is there a particular reason for the high probability that a veteran will start their own business? There is no substantial evidence as to why, but the reasons are fairly obvious. What makes a successful business? It's the person who is willing to put in the hours and be sure their customers are happy. According to a 2009 study on veterans in the entrepreneurial world, “veterans possess greater entrepreneurial characteristics than those who are not veterans.” Perhaps this is why veterans are at least 45 percent more likely to take the plunge into entrepreneurship than people with no active-duty military experience, according to a May 2011 study from the SBA Office of Advocacy.
There are an array of qualities that make an individual successful as an entrepreneur, many of which can be learned through military service. Focus and execution are two necessary qualities to possess when running a business, both of which are cultivated through military training and missions. Other identified traits include the ability to work in teams, active seekers of knowledge, and the drive to continue pushing on after failure. These characteristics built through military experience make veterans ideal entrepreneurs, and not just in the short-term. There are currently three million veteran run businesses in the U.S., and 5.7 million people employed by veterans, which equates to $210 billion in annual payroll and $1.2 trillion in sales. These are some pretty significant numbers, and should encourage all of us to contribute to their success.
When you work with or purchase from veteran owned businesses, you’re not just supporting local businesses, but also your veterans. Let’s continue to honor our veterans and support our start-up community. For more information on veteran owned businesses, check out NaVOBA.com
James Elliott is Director of Marketing at Ultris, a military, furnished and corporate apartment rentals community. He is responsible for overall marketing and brand development. For more information on Ultris, check out ultris.us