February 2, 2018, Fort Knox, KY – When a Soldier transitions from Army active duty to the civilian world, they are presented a host of new career opportunity options. It’s like being back in school with a counselor asking what you want to do for the rest of your life. The door is wide open and now you are sifting through the options.
Soldiers in the U.S. Army will have this same type of conversation with a career counselor 18 months prior to transition or 24 months prior to retirement. Their options are endless, since Soldiers have a wealth of knowledge, job skills, and experience to draw upon. From retirement, to finding a second career, to going to school, to gaining a vocational education, and even to considering entrepreneurship, the Army supports Soldiers in their plan for future civilian life.
One of these efforts is an optional career track available to Soldiers and their spouses during transition. Offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Boots to Business two-day workshop during a Soldier’s Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) teaches business ownership skills. B2B, as it’s known, is a foundational class that sets a future Veteran entrepreneur up for success.
While the SBA and SFL-TAP can help a transitioning Soldier define their future career goals, the true skills needed for entrepreneurship are already within the Soldier. Years of Army experience provides Soldiers the talents they need to be successful.
The Army teaches Soldiers to be leaders. Soldiers understand how to make decisions, manage others, maintain order, and complete tasks. Entrepreneurship requires all of these elements. A 2017 RAND Corporation study found that Veterans and Service members have various non-technical skills that help them succeed in civilian culture, including management and supervisory experience, as well as teamwork skills. Running a business, especially a start-up, often requires one person to manage the tasks of multiple departments. Military leadership skills enable a Veteran entrepreneur to lead a company and chart the direction it moves forward.
As the Army says, “get motivated.” There is motivation behind serving in the military – both for personal and professional reasons. The idea of doing what you need to do in order to complete a task or mission is the backbone of a Soldier’s success. That type of focus, passion, and motivation is needed as an entrepreneur. An Army Veteran’s military experience creates the drive needed for the long hours and tough decisions faced as an entrepreneur.
During transition, Soldiers who find their passion and meaning in their next job stay longer and grow in the position. They find their purpose. A transitioning Soldier understands greater purpose from being in the military. Finding a way to help others in the civilian sector through entrepreneurship is what owning a business is all about and can provide that sense of purpose again. Your product or service could change a customer’s life. A transitioning Soldier can set themselves up for personal success by exploring business ventures that provide purpose to others and themselves.
If a transitioning Soldier is interested in learning more about entrepreneurship, they can attend their local SFL-TAP center’s next SBA workshop on veteran entrepreneurship. To sign up, contact your local SFL-TAP center at www.sfl-tap.army.mil. For more information on Boots to Business, visit sbavets.force.com.
SFL-TAP can also be found on Facebook (@ArmySFLTAP), Twitter (@SFLTAP), LinkedIn (Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program Connection Group), and YouTube (SFL-TAP Television). You can follow Boots to Business on Facebook and Twitter (@Boots2Business).
Story by Jenny Hale
U.S. Army Human Resources Command