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Ex Military Business Advice

Advice From Ex-Military for Business Owners: Leadership, Collaboration, & Strategy.

Joshua Julien Brouard

Joshua Julien Brouard

21 December 20236 min read

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advice from ex-military for business owners

Transitioning from a military career to civilian life often brings a wealth of leadership skills and unique perspectives. This article showcases how military veterans have applied their rigorous military training and discipline to achieve success in the corporate sphere.

This article features insights from ex-military personnel who have translated the principles of collaboration and putting others first into their entrepreneurial endeavors. It also boasts insights into strategic and systematic thinking. Each story highlights the indispensable value of military experience in business leadership.

You'll also find reflections that further emphasize the role of smart leadership – core aspects of military life – in fostering business success.

Collectively, these narratives underline the profound impact of military discipline and training in shaping a successful transition to civilian business careers.

Allan Perrottet elaborates — The value of collaboration. 

Alan Perrottet as a business owner, today.Allan Perrottet in the military.

Allan Perrottet today on the right (left image) vs Alan Perrotet in the military at the top right (right image).

Allan Perrottet, an ex-military professional turned entrepreneur, epitomizes the seamless transition from military life to business leadership. As the co-founder of TBô, Perrottet harnesses the lessons learned from his military career, particularly the values of collaboration and strategic alignment, to drive his company's success. He shares:

"Military taught many valuable lessons which I implement in the daily management and functioning of TBô. The biggest one was collaboration and everyone being on the same page about every task. I took this experience, and it heavily influenced the way we design products. We have our whole community of men (thousands of men all over the world) collaborating with us to design products that they are passionate about.

When it comes to managing employees and day-to-day activities, I strive to maintain organization, planning, and discipline. Projects are meticulously defined and implemented in a methodical way. This has allowed our business to grow to where it is today."

Alan Hughes’ mantra— “Leaders Eat Last.”

Alan Hughes as a business owner, today.Alan Hughes in the military.

Alan Hughes today (left) vs Alan Hughes in the military (right).

Alan Hughes, a former Army personnel and now the co-founder of Better Protectors, brings a unique philosophy to the table. His mantra, 'Leaders Eat Last,' reflects a profound commitment to prioritizing the needs of others. This is a lesson he learned during his service. Hughes elaborates:

"One of the most useful lessons I learned in the military translated to running my own business. The lesson I learned while serving in the Army was that leaders eat last. 

A good leader will always ensure that his troops are taken care of first. That their needs are met, even if it means putting your own on the back burner. I respected leaders who lived that out.

I have kept this ideal in the civilian and business world. Making sure that both my staff and my clients eat first. I hope this tells them that I value them and am here to serve them. 

To my thinking, this is a big step in developing a relationship built on respect with staff. It also fosters loyalty with my clients.

When they see I believe in them and care about them, they believe in me and our services."

Frank Strong covers — The importance of systematic thinking in a business plan.

Frank Strong as a business owner, today.Frank Strong in the military.

Frank Strong today (left) vs. Frank Strong in the military (right). 

Frank Strong is an ex-marine and former commission officer in the Army National Guard. He currently runs Sword and the Script Media. He emphasizes the value of systematic thinking, a key skill developed in the military, in the realm of business. Strong shares his insights:

"One of the most significant ways the military complements business is systemic thinking for problem-solving. What do I mean?

The military has uniform frameworks for just about everything.

* Need to understand the market or the competition?

The military has a framework called the intelligence preparation of the battlefield or IPB. It helps you identify the disposition, composition and strength of the competition. It also helps you walk through elements that could help or hinder an offense - such as terrain and weather. Terrain, or the market landscape, will identify high-speed avenues of approach (marketing or sales channels) and visibility.

* Need to make a decision?

The military has a framework called the military decision-making process or MDMP. It's a prescribed format that builds on IPB for analyzing the mission requirements alongside available assets and capabilities.

* Need to write a plan?

The military offers a framework called an operations order or OPORD. This 5-paragraph format is a plan built on IPD and MDMP. It covers the situation, mission, and execution - including specific and implied tasks to subordinate elements (i.e., sales, marketing, product), logistics, and service and support, which covers communications (think review and approval) and resupply. 

This format covers purpose, intent, and end-state in a format that everyone from the rank of private to general understands. The format is uniform across every U.S. service branch, and even the lowest-ranking recruit is trained on it.

* Need to analyze what's going well in business and what isn't?

The military follows a simple format called an after action review (AAR). These are facilitated sessions that cover the mission and results - along with sustains (things that went well) and improves (things that could be improved). These sessions are intended for anyone of any rank to speak up candidly without fear of retribution."

Paul Dillon's military business advice — Characteristics of a smart leader. 

Paul Dillon as a business owner, today.Paul Dillon in the military.

Paul Dillon today (left) vs Paul Dillon in the military (right).

Paul Dillon, a distinguished veteran from Dillon Consulting Services, brings a wealth of experience and wisdom from his military service. He translates these valuable lessons into guiding principles for business leadership. Dillon outlines several key characteristics:

“Here are the key characteristics that military services teach you, and that smart leaders need to possess to grow their businesses in the post-pandemic world and beyond—integrity, decisiveness, good judgment, the ability to form a vision and execute it, confidence in your own competence,  etc. 

But, without the ability to be selfless, to put the needs and wants of others before your own, you will never get people to ‘follow you to a place where they wouldn't go by themselves.’ One other important thing: Practice ‘servant leadership.’ If you take care of your employees and customers or clients, profits will come. Don’t put profits before people.

The interesting thing is that the U.S. Army has been teaching servant leadership for more than 248 years! If you can’t convince the people under your command that you’re going to take care of them while you’re accomplishing the mission, it doesn’t work.”

Military leadership: a blueprint for success in the corporate world

In conclusion, the transition of service members from military operations to the corporate world offers a unique and invaluable perspective on leadership and management. The stories of these veteran entrepreneurs demonstrate that the principles and values instilled in military personnel are not just relevant but are also transformative when applied in business settings.

These veterans exemplify how military leadership skills such as discipline, systematic thinking, teamwork, adaptability, and a selfless commitment to the welfare of others are crucial components for success when starting a business.

Their experiences testify to the powerful impact that military training and ethos can have in shaping effective, compassionate, and successful business leaders.

As these ex-military professionals navigate their careers in the corporate world, they continue to apply the lessons learned from their time in service.

This proves that the values and skills honed during military service aren't only enduring but also applicable as excellent foundations for business training. 

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Joshua J. Brouard brings a rich and varied background to his writing endeavors. With a bachelor of commerce degree and a major in law, he possesses an affinity for tackling business-related challenges. His first writing position at a startup proved instrumental in cultivating his robust business acumen, given his integral role in steering the company's expansion. Complementing this is his extensive track record of producing content across diverse domains for various digital marketing agencies.