On November 11, Americans observe Veterans Day to honor the men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces. The occasion has this blogger thinking about veterans who apply their military traits and skills – such as leadership, teamwork, discipline and focus – to start a business.
Apparently it happens regularly. One research brief from Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families found that veterans are at least 45% more likely to be self-employed than those with no active duty military experience.
Here’s a look at seven military vets who went the entrepreneurial route:
David Oreck quit college to enlist in the Army Air Corps. At age 40, he started the Oreck Corporation in 1963 to make upright vacuum cleaners for the U.S hotel industry. Today, Oreck’s company produces and sells vacuums, steam mops and other cleaning products for both hotels and homes.
Paul A. Sperry served in the U.S. Navy during World War I. A life-long sailor, Sperry almost lost his life to a slippery deck and spent years trying to perfect a non-slip shoe. One cold day in 1935, the 40-year-old Sperry was watching his dog dart across the ice when he came up with an idea: carving grooves – like those on his dog’s paws – into the bottom of a rubber sole. That moment led to the invention of the Sperry deck shoe.
Laurie Sayles Artis spent more than 20 years in corporate America after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. In her 50s, she founded Civility Management Solutions, which does federal government contracting. Among the resources that helped her entrepreneurial transition were SCORE, Kauffman FastTrac and the Veteran Institute for Procurement.”I finally feel like I’ve found the thing to do so I can leave a legacy for myself as well as my family,” she says in a podcast interview with “Veteran on the Move.”
James Blagg (“Capt. James”) was a U.S. Navy navigator who spent a lot of time on ships that went in and out of the Caribbean. His last duty station took him to Key West where he currently lives. He started Sail Florida Adventures at age 40 after retiring from the Navy in 2013. On his website, Capt. James says he “is always pushing to learn.”
Chris Sweetin started 3D Security Training Solutions at age 41 after over 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. Sweetin received help from Boots to Business, an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration as part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program.
Barbara Knickerbocker Beskind trained as an occupational therapist through the U.S. Army’s War Emergency Course during World War II and served for 20 years, retiring as a major in 1966. At age 42, she founded the Princeton Center for Learning Disorders. Beskind, now 92, works at IDEO to design products and services.
A-Sun Truth, a retired U.S. Marine, was 42 when he founded Twicketer, a mobile ticketing service that turns the average smartphone into a mobile box office or interactive coupon. In a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, Truth describes the connection between his military training and his entrepreneurial endeavors this way: “It’s the mind-set of knowing how to survive anything and having the willingness and gusto to go for it.”
To all the vets out there: Thank you for your service.