Robert Cresanti: Military skills can translate into business success in civilian life

Veterans transitioning to civilian life face a new battle. Gone is the regimented structure that defined their years in service. Instead, they have to find their way in a working landscape that bears little resemblance to their experiences in the military. Yet while their career path may differ from their civilian counterparts, those who serve gain an invaluable set of skills that makes them an important asset to any working environment.

Among these skills are adaptability, tested leadership and unmatched discipline. For many veterans, however, it can be difficult to effectively communicate these capabilities and this experience to potential employers. All too often, the skills learned on the base or the battlefield can seem foreign to those in civilian life.

Unfortunately, underemployment is a serious issue for veterans, particularly those returning from post 9/11 deployments. September marked the fifth time in six months that the unemployment rate increased for this sub-group. This means that our most recent generation of veterans is even more likely to face frustrating job searches and associated strains on mental health. To prevent this, veterans and civilians alike have developed a host of resources to help those who have served our country.


Numerous organizations, from Veterans Affairs to nonprofits to private firms, aim to connect service members with the training and transition assistance they need before these frustrations become overwhelming. The resources provided by these organizations can also connect veterans with jobs to help them find a suitable and enjoyable career path. For good reason, many American companies, particularly members of the International Franchise Association’s VetFran program, are eager to create opportunities for the men, women and military families who served our country; it’s just a matter of finding the right fit.

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Where veterans truly thrive is at the helm of their own businesses. Entrepreneurship offers an avenue for veterans to utilize their unparalleled experience as team members and leaders to launch a meaningful, long-lasting career. And while their time in the military does not exclude them from the challenges of owning a business, it uniquely prepares them to navigate difficulties in business ownership effectively.

The qualities of grace under pressure, decision-making and responsibility are what prime veterans for the challenges and opportunities of entrepreneurship.

When it comes to entrepreneurship, pressure is unavoidable. It’s how you perform under pressure that counts. Few have had to test this ability at the same level as our country’s service members. For many veterans, these decision-making skills make them leaders, not only in the workplace, but in their communities as well.

These qualities of grace under pressure, decision-making and responsibility are what prime veterans for the challenges and opportunities of entrepreneurship. Growing up as a military child, I was exposed from an early age to the commitment and patriotism exercised by those who serve our country. It’s that same commitment that makes veterans so valuable when they return to civilian life.


Franchising is one economic solution that has created a streamlined path for veterans to build successful businesses and become leaders in the workforce. While veterans comprise just 7 percent of the population, 14 percent of franchisees have served in the military. Under the franchising model, veterans can own their own businesses while still benefiting from the guidance and know-how of a larger brand. This is exactly why we work with franchisors to offer discounts and incentives to veterans through our VetFran program. The program makes sure that veterans have every opportunity to put their unique skill set to good use and continue to serve their communities through entrepreneurship.

Enabling small-business ownership within the veteran community ensures that service members can unlock their full potential when reentering civilian life. Whether through the franchise model or an independent endeavor, veteran business owners can apply the intuition, discipline and leadership fostered throughout their time in service to the private sector. These skills are key to success in civilian life and, given the opportunity, our veterans can continue to serve in positions of leadership in a variety of industries across the country.