Within the United States, military veterans represent a new and growing class of entrepreneurs. In the post-9/11 era, they are playing an important role in launching new businesses and creating new jobs. Here are just four ways that veterans are reshaping entrepreneurship in America.
#1: Veterans are reshaping entrepreneurship by creating new jobs
Firstly, veterans are helping to create new jobs. Each new venture that is launched by a veteran has a multiplier effect. If there’s one thing that veterans do, it creates new jobs.
The hard part for many veterans, though, is getting the necessary funding to really build these businesses. Often, these startups are bootstrapped through savings or from modest investments by friends and family. As these businesses grow over time, however, it’s necessary to staff up and hire new people. And often, these new hires are also military veterans.
To see this dynamic at work, just check out Black Rifle Coffee Company. A veteran-owned business. In 2017, the company’s CEO, Evan Hafner, pledged to create 10,000 new jobs for veterans.
That’s a bold vision. And it’s backed up by an ambitious franchise strategy. One that will enable veterans to open up and own their own Black Rifle Coffee Company franchise.
#2: Veterans are building new entrepreneurial ecosystems
Here’s a feature that helped make Silicon Valley great. The region’s highly developed entrepreneurial ecosystem within Northern California.
This ecosystem consists of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and angel investors. As well as tech company employees and the alumni and academics at top universities like Stanford.
These various elements help to create a virtuous circle. In which young graduates have a chance to build new companies. Based on all the connections within this ecosystem. With each new successful startup comes more momentum to build still more start-ups.
That’s the type of entrepreneurial ecosystem that veterans are now starting to build. As more veterans become entrepreneurs, they create momentum for others to join their ranks. They are attending MBA-style boot camps on entrepreneurship. And using these connections to advance their own companies.
They are then re-investing back in the community.
Hiring veterans and aiding the efforts of government and nonprofit institutes to back veteran entrepreneurs.
It’s important to take the big picture view here. At one time, veterans felt they were alone when it came to launching new ventures. They had few role models, and sources of funds were limited at best.
But now new business plan competitions for veteran entrepreneurs are becoming more common. And sources of financing are becoming more available. Most importantly, the U.S. Veterans Administration has been firmly behind these efforts. Giving them even more momentum.
#3: Veterans are becoming role models for how to overcome adversity
Most veterans credit their military experience for helping them overcome adversity. Starting with boot camp, they are told how to persevere and how to surmount challenges. And they are instilled with values and principles that enable them to tough things out and display true grit.
This ability to overcome adversity is the hallmark of any great entrepreneur. Especially in the early startup phase, true grit is needed as new problems seem to appear nearly every day.
According to some studies, veterans are now twice as likely as civilians to go into business. One reason for that is because military veterans are able to tough things out. And keep on when the going gets tough. Proving why veterans are reshaping entrepreneurship.
Sooner or later, every entrepreneur will encounter what seems to be an insurmountable wall. That’s when the military experience really pays off.
As a result, military veterans have the potential to become a new type of role model. The core element here is a sense of mission. More than civilian entrepreneurs, veteran entrepreneurs are deeply inspired by a sense of mission.
Just as they entered the military out of a strong sense of patriotism and an overriding sense of duty. They are now looking to launch new start-ups that have a strong sense of purpose.
#4: Veterans are reshaping entrepreneurship by forging new career paths
The U.S. government, via the GI Bill, has always been supportive of educating military veterans. However, until recently, there was little emphasis on new forms of training. Such as entrepreneurial boot camps. These represent a new form of higher education.
And, until recently. There was little or no effort to teach veterans how to start a new business while still in the service.
As a result, veterans making the transition from military to civilian life often found themselves at a loss. They didn’t have some of the basic business-building skills. Such as knowing how to create a business plan – that could make or break a new startup. And they didn’t know about the different career paths available to them after the military.
But that’s all rapidly changing. And, as a result, veterans are forging new career paths. They are getting prepared to launch a business while they are still in the military. So that they can hit the ground running. And they are meeting the right types of mentors, advisers and angel investors.
As a result, veterans are reshaping entrepreneurship.
Just look at how veteran entrepreneurs are starting to become part of the everyday pop culture.
Take a popular TV show like “Shark Tank,” for example. There have been entire episodes dedicated to military veterans. Showing how they are starting entirely new types of businesses you might not expect.
In one episode, a female entrepreneur amazed the angel investors. She was trying to start a dog snack company. And was actually a decorated Air Force veteran. Who had flown multiple combat missions in the Middle East!
That change in perceptions is extremely important when it comes to reshaping entrepreneurship. It shows that a new generation of veteran entrepreneur role models is forming.
The “old” role models are military veterans like Bob Parsons of GoDaddy or Fred Smith of FedEx. The “new” role models are people like Evan Hafer of Black Rifle Coffee Company. Taking on Starbucks with his highly-publicized plan to hire 10,000 military veterans.
This new generation of entrepreneur has a solid understanding of social media marketing strategies. They also know how to launch companies that are designed to disrupt entire industries.