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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Lessons for Veterans on Entrepreneurship

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Jake Hare is the founder and CEO of launchpeer

My family grew up in Southern California and was poor. And we weren’t just lower class, we lived paycheck to paycheck – shortly after my mom and dad broke up, we became homeless, slept in my dad’s car and washed in a public toilet. So when I went to college, it felt like a fresh start, even though I had to have a full-time construction job during the day and classes in the evenings.

But when I graduated with the intention of going to law school and found that I couldn’t afford it, I had to take another turn and make the decision that would change everything: I joined the military. The things I’ve learned over the course of my shift have stayed with me and are part of the reason I started a startup.

The lessons learned while serving can also be applied to entrepreneurship.

I think entrepreneurship is a path more veterans should take as we are equipped with the skills and knowledge to be successful. Returning home and finding a career path after the military was challenging, but I soon realized that my service taught me everything I needed to thrive in the startup world.

Remind yourself that you can overcome any obstacle in your way.

As a founder, there are times when it gets tough. This journey is like a funnel; you start with an idea and have to take all the steps that lead you to the bottom. There were so many times when I wanted to quit, things were tough and I knew I could have made a lot of money by going back to work for someone else.

At the end of the day you have to decide to make it work, and that tenacity, or guts, was something I learned every day from my shift. I took that determination to persevere and transformed it into the driving force behind my business, and I have no doubt that’s why I’m where I am today. If you’re a veteran considering starting a business, go into the process with purpose and confidence that you can tackle anything that comes your way.

Be willing to figure things out for yourself and take responsibility for your success.

Personal responsibility and accountability were two other core lessons I learned in the military. Sometimes founders come to me with problems, but through further discussion it becomes clear that they themselves did not seek help or seek the answer or really tried. Having responsibility and accountability means taking the initiative to figure things out and being willing to try solutions on your own.

In the military, no one values ​​you or holds your hand. After completing basic training, you are expected to do your job well, and asking for help isn’t always an option. The work I did had life or death consequences, and any mistakes I made were mine and mine alone. Founders need the same willingness to own their successes and their failures to make it in the business world.

To be successful, you must take responsibility for making your business work from the start. That doesn’t mean that you can’t ask for help or guidance, but that you should use every opportunity to solve the problems you encounter rather than expect others to provide solutions.

Identify your mission.

Perhaps the most important quality veterans have is a belief in a mission or purpose. Everyone I met when I entered the service was deeply committed to serving their country, and that fundamental belief often extends beyond the service. My deeper “why” is to provide myself and my family with the financial security I didn’t have growing up. For some founders, it’s their ego and the need to live up to their potential, and for others, it’s their need to help people cope with hardships, such as terminal illness or homelessness.

Whatever the reason, it should be good enough and not just a generic wish to make the world a better place. Your “why” is what will get you through those moments when you want to throw in the towel and give up, so it must be powerful enough to help you carry on no matter what. Write that reason down and reread it often to remind you that what you are doing is bigger than yourself and has the potential to bring about real change.

Take the leap.

The military gives veterans these skills, but there is often a missed opportunity to turn these fundamental capabilities into the foundation of a new business venture. I can’t say the path I took was easy, but my life has come to be the way it has been as a direct result of my experiences in the military and the lessons I’ve learned. If I could, so could other veterans, and there’s a world of opportunity waiting for my fellow brethren and sisters if they’re willing to take the plunge.


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