Every day, thousands of servicemen and women leave the military and enter life as a civilian.
Every day, a large percentage of those veterans find themselves struggling to reintegrate; many end up unemployed or underemployed.
The bad news is many of the government-sponsored initiatives to help out underemployed and unemployed vets have fallen flat. Instead of actually helping the situation, most veterans are left confused by the programs and have no idea how to use the resources at their disposal (or simply can’t get access to them to begin with).
Related: 5 things veterans should know when considering entrepreneurship.
The good news is it doesn’t have to be like this if you choose to go an alternative route, such as starting your own business. Nothing about this route is easy, but the reality is, by the merit of being a veteran, you have advantages in the marketplace that most civilians wish they had.
What are they?
1. You know how to act under high-pressure situations.
In the world of business and entrepreneurship, unexpected things happen all the time:
• A client doesn’t pay (and you have overhead and bills to cover)
• You lose a lucrative customer
• A server shuts down and you can’t take new orders
The list of things that can go wrong are endless. But veterans are used to things not being the way we want; we’re comfortable under uncertainty and high-pressure situations.
Take John Lee Dumas of EntrepreneurOnFire.com for example. Dumas is a prior tank commander who deployed to Iraq during the invasion. After he left the Army, he jumped from job to job, never quite finding his groove. Then he stumbled upon podcasting, fell in love, and decided that’s what he wanted to do.
Over the course of the next 24 months, Dumas hustled every day to build what has become a multi-million podcasting dynasty. There’s no way he could have done this without a propensity to deal in uncertainty and perform under high-pressure situations.
2. You have access to exclusive loans and opportunities not available to anyone else.
No, a loan or free access to something isn’t going to solve your problems or build a business for you, but it can’t hurt, right?
Patriot Bootcamp, Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship, and Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Vets (for veterans with 1% or more disability) are just a few, exclusive opportunities just for veterans interested in started their own business (so take advantage of them).
And these just scratch the surface.
There are dozens of benefits for veterans starting businesses, including priority for government contracts (in other words, if your business does contract work for the military, you’ll get priority over other companies), access to special grants, and even more opportunities for wounded warriors.
For a list of resources, check out highspeedlowdrag.org.
3. You have a strong tribe to network with and gather support from.
This is the greatest secret that too many veterans fail to realize: We are part of a strong, supportive tribe.
There are literally thousands of veteran employers around the country. Many, if not all, would be happy to give you a few minutes of their time to help you get your business started the right way.
That’s like getting access to high-end business consulting just because you’re a veteran. So why don't you reach out and leverage the tribe that’s right at your fingertips? Don't know them? Then that means you need to grow your network.
There are a bunch of ways to get better connected, including:
• Go to conferences and meetups in your industry (using resources like meetup.com or leveraging Facebook groups so you can connect from anywhere in the world)
• Join organizations and clubs that focus on veterans
• Join exclusive veteran networks and masterminds
• American entrepreneur Jim Rohn once said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.
When it comes to connecting with the tribe you’re already a part of — yes, you have to get outside the house, but once you start surrounding yourself with other high-speed veterans, your entire perspective on business and what’s possible in life will change for the better.
Pro tip: veterans love to hook up other veterans. Seriously, reach out.