What Military Skills Could Be Transferred Over To A Startup?
A current military officer named Jason emailed me and told me that he is currently on his last year of military service and would like to transfer his skills over to a startup. Jason said that he was open to suggestions and that he is also willing to work hard to build a startup. There are a lot of military skills that could be transferred over to a business/startup environment. Being an officer with great leadership skills also puts you in an excellent position. I’ve never been in the military, but my cousin was an officer in the military and my lil cousin was an enlisted in the military as well. Both were able to transfer their skills to a business environment after their service. Let’s talk about a few things that I learned from them.
This is the number one military skill that is transferable to a business environment. If you are interviewing for a startup job, you don’t need to talk about how you raided an enemy’s bunker with your team or anything like that, but talk about the responsibility you held during your service. Convince the recruiter that you know what it’s like to lead a team and you know best what it is to keep your team motivated. Go into how responsibility played a major role during your service in the military. Anyone would be impressed!
Leadership is a bit different in a startup environment compared to the military. Leadership in a startup will require less yelling and most of the time there isn’t a correct way of doing things, whereas in the military everything is in orderly form and strict manner. In the military a leader needs to wear many hats, they must understand different environment, different situations, and how to deal with them. A startup is the same, you must know enough of each field to manage them. Leadership is very transferable.
The Importance Of A Team
Having a good team is the bread and butter of both military and startups. In the military, everyone knows that having a strong team is the key to winning against another loosen up team. A good team in the military consist of different people from different fields. For example a team might include infantry and weapons expert, an IT guy, communication guy, the list goes on, but the point is that a good team is a team with people who specializes and masters their fields. Everyone of those mastered military skills and knowledge could be transferred over to a startup.
The same theory goes for startups. You must have a well rounded team with people who excel in certain skills. A team would need an excellent business guy, a marketer, a designer, a developer, and of course a leader. In both the military and startup environment, there is no “I” in a team.
Getting Things Done
One of the most important thing about business in general is taking the leap to get things done. During your 4 years of service, you have probably taken over thousands of orders with high expectations. Did you slack off on it? Probably not, because in the military you have to get it done. It’s more than just a command by your boss, but it’s a mentality. Get it done. You won’t get it done if you don’t start on it.
In a startup, you need to get things done. A startup will usually be more loose on your working style depending on the company. Some companies like Evernote says that it is ok to take breaks and vacations as long as you get it done. In the military, you learned to work hard and get things done, so that is certainly apart of the military skills list that you could transfer over.
Your Military MOS/Job
What did you specialize in the military? For example, one of my friends was a Finance person in the military. He told me that he never entered the battlegrounds, but he was in charge of all the finance for his sector in the military. This is extremely useful if you are looking to build a startup or join an existing one. Talk to your cofounders/employers about how knowledgeable you are in the world of finance. Talk about how the same finance skills can convert to corporate finance or how it can help an early stage startup manage it’s budget and funds.
Sometime veterans might think that their MOS in the military was useless and the military skills won’t transfer over to the real business world. That is bogus! My friend was a firefighter in the navy. He felt that being a firefighter was the most useless thing ever and had nothing to do with business. Now he is the manager of a successful alarm company. He was able to do this because not only did he gain valuable leadership skills from being a firefighter, but the in depth knowledge that he had about alarms, fire alerts etc. allowed him to build a business around it. Even he was surprised on how much he knew about these things compared to an average human being.
If you are aiming to build a startup with your veteran friends, then you might want to consider joining an accelerator. That is usually the best way to kickstart any startup. It might not be anything like you ever experienced in the military, but think of it as a bootcamp. Boot camps aren’t meant to be long, but they are meant to be effective. Why are there accelerators? The same reason why there are boot camps, because it can accelerate growth and knowledge at a tremendously fast rate.
If you have no experience with startup or no coding/design skills, you might want to work in a startup environment before actually creating one. This helps you gain an insight on the startup culture and helps you understand more of which military skills are transferrable.
During the interview make sure you use your disadvantage to your advantage. Take anything that you think might be considered negative in an interview and make it positive. Remember to explain how you led a team, the responsibility that you held, the skills that you learned, the mentality that you have, and most importantly the willingness you have to learn and adapt to a new environment. In the military you are always changing environments so talk about that. Talk about all the military skills you have learned, brainstorm them before the interview and be prepared.
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