We've all heard the statistic that nine out of 10 startups fail within the first five years of being in business. But most people aren't aware that military veteran entrepreneurs and their spouses, are twice as likely, over civilians, to still be operating their startups after five years. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, nearly one in ten small businesses are veteran-owned.

After years of operating in high-stress, demanding environments, veterans are armed with skills that translate easily to the world of entrepreneurship, without the need for an MBA. They have a track record for leadership, strategy, problem solving, and execution. They know how to operate within a team, pushing colleagues to perform, and they can effectively lead others to successful outcomes.

But the ability to operate a business isn't all that is needed to succeed in the startup world. Veteran entrepreneurs lack one key ingredient.

Mentorship: The Boot Camp.

Jen Pilcher has been the spouse of a Navy pilot for almost 20 years. Pilcher launched her first company in 2012, MilitaryOneClick, a one-stop information source for those in the military community, but struggled when it came to bringing traffic to her site and making it profitable.

The issue? Mentorship. Pilcher knew very few tech startup founders, and as a military spouse, she often hit roadblocks when it came to access to information and interaction.

That's until she was accepted into Patriot Boot Camp, a nonprofit where I currently serve as a board member that provides mentorship, educational programming, and a robust community of experts and peers, which has helped Pilcher and over 750 other veteran entrepreneurs build relationships crucial to business success.

In 2015, MilitaryOneClick was acquired by The Secor Group thanks to the relationships she made at Patriot Boot Camp. Now, Pilcher has become heavily involved with the program as a mentor and speaker to help other veteran and veteran spouse entrepreneurs, who have gone on to raise over $70 million in funding, and create over 1,300 jobs across the U.S.

No Lone Ranger successes.

Having a solid network is key to building a successful business. It allows founders to tap the minds, wallets, and experience of others in their shoes, while also helping candidates build a sturdy team as the company scales.

Techstars is also built on this idea. It's the network we provide that opens doors for founders. Throughout our 12 years of operations, we've focused our accelerator programs on specific industries, like blockchain or retail-tech, which allows startup founders to build even closer, and more impactful, relationships with other founders in their focus area.

Veteran entrepreneurs too need to congregate to learn from other's successes and failures, and to expand their networks.

Other vet networking resources.

Similar to Patriot Boot Camp, Bunker Labs is a nonprofit organization built by military veterans to help empower other military veterans, active military, and their spouses as leaders in innovation. Bunker Labs offers a plethora of programs at all stages of entrepreneurship.

Inc.com has also compiled a military entrepreneur toolkit that gives great information on how to build your network and tackle classic startup issues, with first-person information from military entrepreneurs and funding sources that military vets will find useful on their funding endeavors. 

Published on: Nov 8, 2018