Veteran Entrepreneurship – Determining your next career move after serving your country can be difficult for many reasons, but the opportunity that lies ahead can be incredibly rewarding. Whether or not you have been deployed, working in the military is a unique job with many responsibilities that are vastly different from a typical 9-5. So, it is not uncommon to feel unsure about what job opportunity might be right for you. Entrepreneurship, however, proves to be a great option because many of the characteristics that make you effective in the military can also make you a successful business owner.
As an Air Force intelligence analyst for seven years, I had top-secret clearance and ran a division that oversaw the highest and fastest flying reconnaissance aircraft ever built. Dealing with such high-stress situations and making critical decisions about Veteran Entrepreneurship taught me some valuable lessons and skills that I still use today. I attribute much of my success as a multi-unit franchise business owner to my experience in the Air Force.
Making the jump to become a franchisee and opening my first Marco’s Pizza location was a risk, but I followed my gut and put my military best practices into action. My ability to remain steadfast and focused has proven to help me achieve growth and act on opportunities, even in the face of uncertainty. With four open locations and more in development, I’m well on my way to owning a desired 10 stores and growing my pizza empire.
From experience, I know how challenging it can be to find a career that feels like the right fit. Below are a few tips for those considering Veteran Entrepreneurship after leaving the military.
Find a New Passion and Have a Vision
Doing a deep dive into business opportunities surrounding your passions can be beneficial in aiding your search. It is important to align yourself with a business that you believe in and has similar values.
Once you have found the right business opportunity, start making Veteran Entrepreneurship plans and long-term goals. When I signed up to be a Marco’s Pizza franchisee, I knew I didn’t want to open just one location. My vision was to open at least 10 stores and grow my business portfolio. So far, I have opened four locations in Virginia, the newest one in downtown Newport News. This unique location provides lunch and dinner options on the Newport News Shipbuilding campus, the largest industrial employer in Virginia, the sole designer, builder and refueler of United States Navy aircraft carriers, and one of two providers of U.S. Navy submarines. This opening holds a special place in my heart — getting back to my roots and serving the military in a new way.
Remain committed to your vision, learn from the losses and celebrate the wins, big and small, along the way.
Build A Strong Team
Your business is only as good as the people you surround yourself with. As any veteran knows, the first rule to overcoming challenges and finding success is to have the right team in place.
When I was searching for entrepreneurial opportunities, I was looking for a franchise that made it a priority to support and help veterans. I was very happy to see that Marco’s Pizza provided veterans discounts and incentives while supporting the veteran community with charitable and giveback initiatives.
Not only is it essential to be supported by a strong team, but you need to prioritize building a strong team within your business. For me, this meant finding a talented general manager and dedicated team members who shared the same goals. With their support, we’ve been able to grow in number of units and strengthen performance while helping each of them achieve Veteran Entrepreneurship goals. By investing in your team, they’ll invest in you and your business.
Be Flexible and Adapt
If the military has taught us anything, we must always be prepared to adapt. There’s a lot of change from new missions, deployment assignments, moving bases, etc., and it usually comes with short notice. It’s important to remember this and maintain an adaptable mentality in business.
With the global pandemic, businesses had to adapt their services and find new ways to continue to serve their communities. With some creative thinking, many businesses like Marco’s Pizza added curbside pickup and contactless delivery options. You have to reset your mindset and be open and receptive to change because those who don’t adapt can become stagnate and cannot grow.
Eliminate Failure as an Option
Sometimes, our first reaction to uncertainty is fear — fear that failure is looming in our future. That’s natural, but don’t fear the problem itself. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to test your ability, grow your resiliency and even learn something new.
Whether taking the leap to business ownership, managing personnel, navigating natural disasters, etc., the unknown gives us the curiosity to try new things and aim for the stars. Eliminating failure and keeping a positive outlook will go a long way toward making the situation less daunting. Veteran Entrepreneurship is not easy. If it were, everyone would be in business. When facing difficult challenges, reflect internally on what motivates you to achieve greatness because the end result is worth the struggle.
Whatever route you decide to take in the next chapter of your life, I wish you luck, and most of all, remember to trust your gut. Entrepreneurship can be an excellent opportunity for those looking to take their leadership skills to the next level and become their own boss. Do your research and know that the right opportunity is out there for you.
Written by: Stephanie Moseley