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Entrepreneur

Another important trait of a good boss is the ability to invite others to share their ideas with you. You should create an atmosphere where your employees will want to share their ideas with you on a regular basis. Great ideas are what drive businesses forward.

In the military, it is crucial to have great people skills in order to communicate, coordinate, motivate, and understand the people who are required to complete a mission. In the military, I had to know people’s problems, weaknesses, strengths, and motivations in order to achieve long term success. I learned to be perceptive to non-verbal communications and actions. I learned that everyone has something to offer and everyone should be treated with respect and understanding. As an entrepreneur, this is one of the most critical skills and also one of the most rewarding.

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Just as it sometimes happens in a military mission, an entrepreneur has to know when to quit. Sometimes, even after you have managed the risks, made a capital investment, worked very hard in a disciplined manner, and adapted as much as you possibly can, the bottom line is that quitting in order to refocus efforts in a more productive manner is the best course of action. No one likes to quit, but sometimes it’s the right decision and that’s all there is to it. To fight a battle you realize you are ultimately going to lose makes no sense as an entrepreneur because it can depletes resources that can ultimately prevent you from succeeding on another day in another arena.

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Being successful at anything is rarely easy in any competitive environment. A good work ethic is one quality that is missing in many people because they have never truly had to work hard. Believe me when I say that the military taught me what hard work is. I’m not just talking about the physical part of it, I’m also talking about the mental fortitude it takes to persevere when everything seems to be going wrong, nothing is working, you are mentally and emotionally exhausted, and the work seems never ending. Whether it’s battle, training, sports, or business, continued hard work is required to be consistently successful. As soon as a business, athlete, or military unit stops working hard, critical requirements start falling through the cracks and that leads to failure or less than optimum performance at the very least.

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Entrepreneur

Managing risks is what much of the military is about. The military has to look at efforts and results in the same way an entrepreneur looks at efforts and results when evaluating an opportunity. The military is constantly looking at the risks associated with deploying forces and equipment in order to achieve an objective—every mission assesses its risks. As an entrepreneur, I use the same skills to manage my capital and work force to achieve financial goals and limit losses. I learned to look at the competition, challenges, and potential outcomes. Just as I learned in the military, I weigh various factors involved with a decision in order to make the best choices based on potential risks and rewards. Having poor risk evaluation skills in business or in the military can clearly lead to disaster.

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Entrepreneur

Discipline as an entrepreneur means staying consistent and doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done in order to keep the processes rolling. It means making the lists and schedules and doing what needs to be done to make them happen. This is critical in the military because every mission relies upon other jobs being accomplished in a predictable manner. A successful entrepreneur must be disciplined in there operational decisions and risk management processes. Just like with the military, it can get very costly when an entrepreneur gets careless or sloppy with operations or risk/reward assessments.

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Entrepreneur

Probably the most valuable skill the military instills that is absolutely critical to success as an entrepreneur is integrity. Integrity is many things. It’s not just being honest and morally sound; it’s being forthright and doing the right thing when you know what needs to be done—even when it sometimes requires grave personal sacrifice. Personal integrity is all a person has when they are ultimately alone having lost everything that is external to them. Integrity is what allowed prisoners of war to survive years in what most people would consider a living hell and still maintain who they were. Surprisingly, it seems to be one of the most difficult characteristics to find in the business world today.

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Entrepreneur

Many people ask me if my military experience helped me to become a successful entrepreneur. Without question, the military was critical in giving me the tools needed to be successful in life and as an entrepreneur. The key things the military taught me that helped me succeed in the business world were discipline, hard work, integrity, adaptability, perseverance, risk management, knowing when to quit, and people skills (assessing, communicating, relating, and understanding). These are all attributes that both the military and entrepreneurship have in common.

In this continuing series of articles, I will discuss each of those topics in more detail. I welcome any comments or questions related to any of the topics.

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Entrepreneur

I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit, but it’s true that you need more that just that in order to be successful. Perseverance, perspiration, initiative, confidence – all of these are big factors in taking a dream to the next level and making it work.

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