By Paul Peng-
People from all over the country join the military for various reasons: patriotism, upward economic mobility and college tuition assistance, just to name a few. Regardless of why one joins, the military instills certain positive character traits into an individual, giving them an edge over the general public, especially if they have entrepreneurship in mind.
My entrepreneurial journey began in 2019 with Sentri Institute Inc. With a motto of “We Save Lives Through Training,” we offer self-defense and security consultation and certifications to include but not limited to concealed carry weapon (CCW), armed security, executive protection, first aid/CPR/AED and A.L.I.V.E. active shooter response. Since starting my company in 2019, we have been profitable year after year. We were involved in two feature Hollywood films, published in Concealed Carry magazine and regularly published in U.S. Veterans Magazine. We have also formed partnerships with my hometown of Garden Grove and some of the industry’s most reputable names, such as USCCA and OTIS Defense. So, what traits did I take away from my time in the military and utilize for my entrepreneurial journey?
I joined the military (Army) during wartime. As a soldier, I was deployed twice to Iraq, the first during the invasion in 2003 and again in 2008. As you may have already guessed, everyone in the chain of command had to be on the same page and laser-focused on the terms of the mission. Any hesitation or lack of focus on the mission could result in a potentially life-threatening outcome. When it came to my business, I had to stay laser-focused on the end goal; to become a respected figure and company in the self-defense industry. Did I have pitfalls along the way? Hell yes! Some pitfalls were deeper and more demoralizing than others; however, I would not be writing this article if I had lost focus. Sentri Institute would have folded long ago, leading to the next point.
When I was a young NCO and found myself in a leadership role for the first time in combat, I made mistakes, a lot of mistakes. Thankfully, I had a good mentor (my squad leader) that helped and guided me, teaching me the value of having endurance; that mistakes are allowed as long as you learn from them. During my entrepreneurial journey, I like to say I tripped and fell my way to where I am today. It has been and continues to be one hell of a bumpy roller coaster ride. Yet I am still going.
Anyone that has ever had a leadership role in the military knows that once a decision is made—stick to it! The worst thing that you can do is to change course mid-action. Not only does this confuse people and cause communication problems it will almost always lead to a much bigger mistake. As for Sentri Institute, even if I had doubts about my decision, I would see it through until the end before analyzing anything and adjusting. I can speak to this because I have made that mistake. Trust me when I say the results were far worse than if I had just stuck to my decision and adjusted afterward. This experience has allowed me to properly document and adapt my business, ensuring that my business is constantly improving and growing.
Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
This should resonate with you if you have served in the military for any given time, regardless of your military occupational specialty (MOS). Everything from drill and ceremony to exercises, to training and education, is highly regimented and meant to instill discipline. It forces your body and mind to adapt, making you more physically and emotionally resilient.
In many ways starting a business and sticking with it until it bears fruit is very much like what many of you have already gone through in the military. After the initial high and excitement of starting a business wear off, the brutal reality sets in. Long hours, little to no income, proposal rejections and other entrepreneurial roadblocks can weigh heavily on you and your business. Just like in the military, it is in these times when you must get comfortable being uncomfortable to see events through to the end and ultimately come out on top. So, what are you waiting for? Get after it!
Paul Peng is the founder of Sentri Institute Inc., a self-defense and security industry-based certification company that “Saves Lives Through Training.”