Does A Military Background Help Or Hurt In StartUps?

Original post by Eric Basu via Forbes

Why wouldn’t you hire a veteran in a startup?  When I first left the military I interviewed with Andersen Consulting (later to become Accenture) and was asked the question, “We are a very entrepreneurial company.  What makes you think your background in the military would prepare you to fit into our culture?”  It’s as valid a question as any other, I suppose, if somewhat patronizing.  Since that interview, I have started three companies, with various degrees of success, and had ample opportunity to wonder what skills the military provided me that helped me in my successes.  I have had people say that I must have been successful because of my success as a Navy SEAL. While there are a number of former SEALS who have successfully started businesses, there are more SEALS that have not been entrepreneurs than those that have, just as in the normal population.

So does a military background limit your ability to be successful as an entrepreneur?

From my experience, this is as incorrect an assumption as is the assumption that every college drop-out can become a billionaire by founding their own company.  Just because someone can thrive in a structured environment such as the military does not mean that they do not have the capability to innovate and be creative.  In addition, there are equally important personality traits to success as an entrepreneur that one can develop and hone in the military, including self-motivation, discipline, ability to work hard for weeks on end, ability to tolerate privation and perseverance in the face of repeated failure.  Not all military personnel embody or excel at all of these skills, but for those that do, and who also have the desire and ability to strike out on their own, these skills can help the veteran entrepreneur be far more successful than someone without those skills, more easily.