By Kevin Harrington
Pick up the newspaper or turn on the TV and you’re sure to see an ad, article or report of another company that’s focused on hiring veterans. I wonder if they’re paying tribute to our soldiers, or making a smart business decision?
My father served our country and I was proud of that fact. However, beyond my pride, I knew there was something different in my dad that I believe made him a better businessman. I watched him grow his business, and I started working for him at the ripe age of eleven. And I started at the bottom and worked my way up until I reached my point of success. After I lost my father, I began to reflect on what characteristics he possessed that made him such a successful businessman.
Having served in the military was one. So I wanted to learn more about how veterans are transitioning today, and how that process has changed over time. I recently had the opportunity to visit with Scott Mann, a retired Army Green Beret Special Forces Operator who spent 23 years in the military. When I asked him to talk about what it took these days to successfully transition out of the military, the conversation unfolded very quickly.
Scott began to explain that many veterans would make great entrepreneurs, or managers because of their transferable skill set. I learned that Green Berets are often dropped into foreign territory and asked to figure out how to get in without any resources other than themselves. For him, as a Green Beret, he was accustomed to being extremely adaptable, and possessed ingenuity as well as an innovative mindset.
He told me that unfortunately nowadays the military is stretched really thin, which means that transitioning veterans only have about ten days of assistance or advance notice prior to their transitioning back into civilian society. Although this may seem like enough time for many, consider that a Green Beret trains for over six years just so that he could take the test that would allow him to become a Special Forces operator. Ten days is just not much time compared to all of the extensive training they’ve undergone.
He then went on to explain how he has been instrumental in creating the Next Ridgeline program, which is designed to bridge the existing gap between military transitioning and the corporate sector. Their goal is to assist veterans in understanding how to transfer their current military skill set so they can successfully penetrate the business world.
In fact, many veterans are prime candidates for entrepreneurship. Why? Well, I think that a great entrepreneur needs to have the ability to communicate well, follow guidelines, create structure, and have enough self-awareness to understand one’s purpose. Most importantly, they need to have the ability to be a self-starter.
“Another set of skills that I found valuable, are creative problem solving. As an entrepreneur myself now, I’m always leveraging this skill. I also understand the value of organizational skills, a strong work ethic and one of the keys is tenacity. I believe veterans have a strong ability to stick with something and see it through to the end, which as an entrepreneur is critical,” said Scott Mann.
One of the greatest challenges for entrepreneurs today, including veterans? Raising enough capital. Scott explained his view of this as it relates to veterans. “Many Americans do not get a lot of financial intelligence training. For many of us, our parents taught us not to talk about money. They said it is for ‘rich people and snobs.’ Our schools even stayed away from teaching about money. While in the military, Uncle Sam handled or finances for us.”
Scott also mentioned that when it comes to understanding how to raise capital to start a business, veterans need education and assistance. “We just don’t know what we don’t know.”
When explaining how he overcame this obstacle he said “I hit the streets and had to creatively figure out how to raise capital so I could invest in a mobile home community. I didn’t know how to talk the language, but I knew about negotiating skills and the importance of storytelling, which I learned while deployed in remote areas on secret operations. “
“These skills are what helped me land my first real estate investment deal, which I have subsequently been able to successfully leverage into a multi-million dollar portfolio. Veterans just need to understand how the skills they used every day while serving in the military can be effectively applied to the business world. That’s what the Next Ridgeline program is all about,” said Scott Mann.
I am honored that Scott visited with me and I dedicate this article to all the men and women who have served our country. As business professionals, I challenge each of you to look at veterans through a different lens anytime you get a chance to interview, finance, or do business with them.
This article was written by Kevin Harrington from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.