An Officer And An Entrepreneur

 

With more than 240,000 residents who’ve served in the military, San Diego County is thought to have the third-largest veteran population in the country. A significant number of them are entrepreneurs; we wondered if veterans make better entrepreneurs.

A 2011 study from the Small Business Administration found that veterans are at least 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than civilians who have never served in the military. Officers are more likely than enlisted personnel to be self-employed, a finding the study attributed to officers’ higher education levels and greater financial flexibility due to larger military pensions.

The study found that recent veterans have lower rates of self-employment (3.6 percent) than those who served in World War Two, the Korean War or the Vietnam War (10.6 percent). It concluded that the higher level of entrepreneurship is more likely due to “individual characteristics, rather than training, education or other qualities imparted by military service.”

But according to three veterans that spoke with ID8 Nation, maybe they did learn a thing or two while serving their country. The vets -- two Navy, one Army -- credited their service with helping them as entrepreneurs, but have learned that not all military practices transfer well to the business world.

A healthy tenacity

Steven Sullivan (photo) spent more than 13 years in the Navy before retiring as a supply and logistics chief in 1998. He is now chairman and CEO of Sullivan International Group, an environmental engineering firm with more than 200 employees. The company is expected to do $65 million in revenue this year, he said.