Military veterans enter entrepreneurship

January 12, 2015

After the brave men and women who fight to protect this country's freedoms are done serving active duty, it's important to ensure they have the resources available to go to work. However, in an increasingly uncertain job market, options for employment can be scarce. There are educational programs to help veterans get into school, but what do they do after that? How do they find work? In many cases, the best option is for veterans to go into work for themselves by starting their own companies.

An article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune recently detailed the efforts of many "vetrepreneurs" — veterans who become entrepreneurs — who are going into business for themselves after their active duty ends. Captain Tim O'Neil, a former marine who was working as a military recruiter, came across a management school that allowed him to take classes on all matters concerning owning and operating a business. He decided that this was the direction he wanted to take his career, and as the Star Tribune puts it, he stopped selling the military and started selling himself.

Like many, O'Neil felt at home starting his own business because of his military experience. Running your own company requires leadership, discipline and the ability to not quit when the going gets tough. These are all key values taught and developed in the military, so it was only natural for O'Neil to carry them over to his new venture.

"Having your own team, a sense of effort and duty, being able to right your own ship, it all fit in to what I knew," O'Neil told the news source. Although his Marine fatigues are no longer a part of his wardrobe, he still carries himself as a Marine in all of his business matters. As an entrepreneur, he hopes to be as successful as he was during his time in the service.

Many hope to follow O'Neil's lead, and the country as a whole is behind this initiative. Foreign wars and domestic economics have arguably been the two most important issues in this country since the turn of the century, and the thought is that programs designed to offer veterans the resources they need to start their own companies can help on both fronts. While the unemployment rate of veterans has dropped recently, it is still higher than the average civilian, a fact that many of the nation's leaders hope to change quickly.

There are many who are willing to offer their assistance with this initiative. Misty Stutsman, manager of programs and outreach for the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University, is one. Her idea is to inspire veterans to dream big and start companies that could one day rival those that lead their respective industries. 

"Instead of being able to place you in a corporation, going to work for one of the top 10 corporations, we hope to inspire you to be a founder of one of the top 10 corporations and be able to go out and employ fellow veterans," Stutsman said. 

Veterans will need to learn the key components of starting their own business, such as how to incorporate their respective organizations. Doing this will place them on the path to success. We are proud to support their efforts through our EBV and V-Wise programs.