For years, military service has been recognized as one of the leading indicators of entrepreneurial success. It turns out, many valued military talents transfer well to guiding a team through the ups and downs of launching and growing a business.

Startups are much like the military. You fight for what you believe in and you need an army of believers to achieve it. Your passion is always a war within you. The military and startups have a lot common—things that are important to both.


Here are the 10 lessons from greatest military leaders for entrepreneurs,

1. Trust your core team – George Washington

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few; and let those few be well-tried before you give them your confidence.” – George Washington (General, Continental Army)

As an early-stage entrepreneur, your team will be small, but with trustworthy people in place and proper coaching, you can better compete with the big guys.

2. Don’t give up – Ulysses S. Grant

“One of my superstitions has always been when I start to go anywhere or do anything, not to turn back, or stop until the thing intended was accomplished.” – Ulysses S. Grant (General, U.S. Army)

As an entrepreneur, you will make mistakes, but it’s how you learn from them that will define your success as a leader.

3. Never compromise – Winfield Scott

“Peace won by compromise is usually a short-lived achievement.” – Winfield Scott (General-in-Chief, U.S. Army)

Even if some people don’t believe in your business vision, it’s important to keep your team focused on the long-term goal. If you’re confident, don’t be derailed by naysayers.

4. Help your team achieve greatness – George S. Patton

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – George S. Patton (General, U.S. Army)

Good leaders help their people achieve greatness, even during hardships. It’s important to push your employees to meet their goals and advance their career.

5. Respect your team – Robert E. Lee

“The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman.” – Robert E. Lee (General, U.S. Army)

When you respect your employees, they will respect you. A happy team is a productive team, and when people believe in their leader, they’ll go to war for him.

6. Create a cooperative culture – Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower (General, U.S. Army)

When your staff is all on the same page, working together, your business will reap the benefits.

7. Stay positive – Lewis B. ‘Chesty’ Puller

“All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us…they can’t get away this time.” – Lewis B. ‘Chesty’ Puller (Lieutenant General, U.S. Marine Corps)

In the face of adversity, you have to stay calm and positive. If you lose it, your team will follow suit – tenfold.

8. Recognize your hard workers – Eugene B. Fluckey

“What wordy praise can one give such men as these; men who…follow unhesitatingly when in the vicinity of minefields so long as there is the possibility of targets…Men who will fight to the last bullet and then start throwing the empty shell cases. These are submariners.” – Eugene B. Fluckey (Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy)

Once you find a good team, be sure to dole out credit and tout their achievements. A little recognition goes a long way.

9. Get in the trenches – Norman Schwarzkopf

“It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.” – Norman Schwarzkopf (General, U.S. Army)

As an entrepreneur you have to dig in on the front lines, right alongside your team. You will get the best work from your people if you’re willing to stick out your neck for them.

10. Keep everyone motivated – Dudley ‘Mush’ Morton

“Tenacity, Dick, stay with the bast*rd ‘til he’s on the bottom.” – Mush Morton (Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy)

If your employees don’t believe in you and your vision, you’ll have a tough road ahead. Make sure everyone knows what’s in it for him or her in the long run.

About Author

Biplab Ghosh

Biplab lives his life around technology and is particularly keen to explore the intersection of technology and human behaviour. Always looking for new ideas, and ways that can make things simpler. He is a geek with the flair for travel and has great passion for music and theatres.

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