Support for Canadian Forces Entrepreneurs and Veterans

General Rick Hillier (Ret.) is a well-known veteran, business coach and entrepreneur.  In many of his presentations, General Hillier speaks about  how the Canadian Armed Forces affected him as a leader, and aided in his progression from solider to entrepreneur. 

Achieving Missions vs. Following the Rules

He explains that the military no longer teaches young servicemen and women to follow rules, instead they are taught to be successful in achieving missions.  And, those missions can only be achieved by creating a strategy. So, what better starting point is there for an entrepreneur than someone who already knows the importance of strategy to achieve the end goal?  

For General Hillier, he applied what he learned in the military to create a profitable career in public speaking, creating his own speaking agency called the Inspiration Series. Over the last four years, he has worked with ExxonMobil, TELUS, Rogers Communications, TD Bank, American Express, Gowlings, KPMG and many more organizations to speak about the importance of leadership through tough times. 

He describes how entrepreneurship is often thought of as a solo sport – the image of the lone person working for long hours at their desk to make things happen. “But it doesn’t have to be that way,” he says. “You can accomplish much more by working as a team. Just look at the great Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, together they founded one of the most profitable companies in the world.”  For him this is a glowing example of the importance of teamwork.

Operation Entrepreneur

But what support is there for members of the Canadian Forces transitioning into regular life and looking to start a business? 

The Prince’s Charities Canada joined together with Futurpreneur in 2013 to create Operation Entrepreneur, a program that offers ex-servicemen and women the help they need to start their own business. They offer free one-day workshops as an introduction to entrepreneurship, designed especially for transitioning members of the forces, including ways to transfer military skills to business ownership, as well as a week-long intensive boot camp to learn the business basics and networking time with other entrepreneurial-minded servicemen and women. 

Futurpreneur also provides access to up to $45,000 in financing and the opportunity to participate in their mentorship program to help launch the business. 

Transferable Skills and Your Approach to Business

Being a veteran or a former service member is different for all those who have served. However for many it instills a sense of pride and honour. To live without the sense of entitlement. To make sure that all responsibilities are executed with excellence. To remember that it’s a privilege to start a small business when the option is not always available to others around the world. An understanding that trust is not a given and is earned. What better starting point can there be for starting a business?

So tap into your training, figure out your passion and go for it.