When Should Military Veterans Start a Business?

BusinessWeekKidIncThere has recently been more activity which encourages business startups among military transitioners.

Two weeks ago, we posted information and perspective on The Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition Act. Authors of the bill are attempting to pass legislation which would allow veterans to use benefits from their Post-9/11 G.I. Bill as collateral to start-up a business.

I have weighed in on this initiative previously saying, “I like the support for veterans and intent the bill provides, but execution should come from the private – or business – sector, not a government agency.”

Business startup activity in the transition sector of the military is a fascinating topic that I would like to continue covering. It is a subject that is relevant for the global economy and is not limited exclusively to the U.S. A few years ago there was a very good book written by Dan Senor and Saul Singer on Israel’s miraculous growth into the global economy called Start-Up Nation. The centerpiece of Israel’s success was how they effectively transitioned military officers into entrepreneurial ventures. I wrote a series of posts at the time about the book, which you can review here.

Given my interest in this area and its relevance among military transitioners today, I promise to shed more light on the topic from time to time. Today, I would like to start with an important question, “When is the right time to start a business?”

According to research The Guardian reviewed for an article, the average ages to start a company are 47 years old in the UK and 40 years old in the United States.

Here are summaries – by decade – the report provides as reasons why the 40s are prime time for launching a startup:
> 20s – Decade is characterized by uncertainty and debt; lack of experience makes startups risky.
> 30s – An era of commitment to careers, children and mortgages.
> 40s – A time when you have financial security and business experience. You know what you want in your life and career, and what things you excel at doing. You also understand your shortfalls, which allows you to delegate effectively. You have learned from mistakes and established great networks, which build upon the reputation
you’ve earned from working in an industry. Networks will help you open doors to operational resources and capital. Finally, you enough energy and passion to persist and succeed.

Please understand that these are simply guidelines for the right time to start a business. Obviously, there are exceptions and other attributes which can determine when someone becomes an entrepreneur. See 12 Facts About Entrepreneurs That Will Likely Surprise You.

The takeaway here is for veterans to continue being self-directed in all areas of starting up a business. This includes, but is by no means limited to the right time to start a company. Also, veterans should not “buy foolishly into” government initiatives and support without gathering unbiased data and intel to make a decision. This is because our government and its agencies seem to be ignoring real facts about startups from sources such as Forbes who estimate that 80-90% of all small businesses fail. Furthermore, access to government funding and SBA agency involvement will in no way insure success in startup business for veterans. If you’re serious about starting a business you should be optimistic but take these realities and sensibilities into account.

Please stay connected and refer other military to my blog as I will try to cover more facts and important aspects of start-up businesses for veterans in future posts.

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