2010 Archives

More veterans are starting businesses


The following is from the October 24, 2010, edition of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Maria Minniti, an economist and professor of entrepreneurship at SMU's Cox School of Business, provided expertise for this story.

October 26, 2010

By Chris Vaughn

TARRANT COUNTY -- Andrew Brady, armed with a Purple Heart and early Army retirement papers, launched a business in his hometown last year.

His objective was nothing less than audacious -- to sell high-dollar, custom-made rifles in a battered and weak economy where even Walmart and Target have sometimes been hurting.

A college graduate and two-time combat veteran before his 30th birthday, Brady knows the odds. He's doing it despite them.

"This is the worst time to own a business, much less start one," he said one afternoon in the Lone Star Armory shop, near Rendon in southern Tarrant County. "But if you can make it in this economy, I'm convinced you can make it for good."

By launching his small business last year, with no backing outside of family, friends and his own chutzpah, Brady is part of what seems to be a growing trend among veterans to become entrepreneurs.

But an expert at Southern Methodist University said that entrepreneurship is rising among young people generally in the last decade. The number of self-employed people is going up, particularly among the young and minorities, which professor Maria Minniti attributes more to societal changes than a poor employment climate.

"At least half of my students have already started businesses," said Minniti, an economist and professor of entrepreneurship at the Cox School of Business. "I know that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are increasingly starting their own businesses.

"Is that the result of the economic crisis or just part of the general trend of young people turning to entrepreneurship? I think it's more the latter." . . .

Not surprisingly, most small businesses go belly up, usually within 21/2 years. The numbers are higher for restaurants and retail than consulting or real estate.

But Minniti said an entrepreneur's attitude is perhaps the greatest factor for success. And that's where she thinks former servicemen and women may have the advantage.

"Perseverance, patience, discipline is what many young entrepreneurs fail at," she said. "Having structured thinking, being literally disciplined enough to work at something all day or night is something that veterans can understand and probably have more of it.

"We associate entrepreneurship with creativity, and we think of creativity as an unstructured process," she said. "We tend to neglect the idea that creativity is a very structured process that requires work, patience and practice."

Read the full story.

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