How many times have you heard someone tell you that your military background will give you an edge in landing a job on the outside?
Many times, that’s true. But not always — and maybe not in the ways you expect.
Most troops getting out of the military envision going to work for someone else. But some hardy souls will have a goal of running their own businesses and being their own bosses.
It can happen — if you have an entrepreneurial mindset.
I recently came across a great article by Michael Gerber of Inc.com that talked about that mindset: “4 Personality Traits All Entrepreneurs Must Have.” Let’s take a look at those traits:
■ The dreamers. These are the kind of people who allow their mind to run free, thinking up creative ideas for a business that might be criticized if it was presented to others at, say, a board meeting. But without a dream, there is no goal to reach — and you never know which dreams can become reality if you don’t try.
■ The thinkers. If coming up with an idea can be a challenge, bringing it to life can be even more so. The thinkers will focus on a business plan — how to put all the pieces together. They’ll constantly question and revise their plans, aiming to answer the big question: “How can this be done?”
■ The storytellers. After dreaming up an idea and mapping out a business plan, it’s time to share what they’ve created with the world. The storytellers will focus on speaking about their concept to bring it to life within the business community. Getting nonbelievers to buy into a concept will set up potential funding to get that concept off the ground.
■ The leaders. Pretty self-explanatory — and probably the trait that most easily translates to your military experience.As you moved up in rank, you were given more responsibilities, and even worked on mentoring and training junior troops. Those same qualities are what’s required to put the plan in motion and run a successful business.
You may not realize you carry these personality traits, but the perspective of others can help make you a believer. It wasn’t until I stepped into a local Small Business Administration office with my idea that I understood I was actually on a path to starting a business.
How did I get started? Identifying an issue and coming up with an idea to fix it.
Here’s how the four personality traits mentioned above relate to what I’ve done so far:
After separating from the military, I quickly realized that there are a lot of resources for transitioning veterans that the government seems intent on hiding from us. So I thought about how useful it would be to have a website that pulled all these resources together into one convenient package.
Then I had to build a business plan to figure out how to do that, and become a storyteller to share what I wanted to create with everyone in the military community.
I’m now in the final phase, earning the title of business owner.
Separating from the military and searching for a company to hire you is one traditional path to employment, but it’s not the only one. Many veterans have valuable skills that would make them good entrepreneurs — and they may not know it.
Sometimes, it all starts with a dream.
In my next couple of columns, I’ll take a look at some of the ideas veteran entrepreneurs have come up with, what resources are out there to help you get started, and what specific steps you can take to become an entrepreneur.