You think you’re gonna get started in civilian life being your own person, do you? Alright, then. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into. Starting and running your own business can be expensive and more work than punching a clock for some other guy. Not to say that anyone can’t do it – this is America, after all – just make sure you know what’s about to happen.
Maybe you want to make it easy on yourself and open that Subway sandwich shop you always thought about. That is called a franchise, young entrepreneur. You know, where all the branding and marketing are done for you, you just have to open the business, lease the building, buy the food, and everything else that comes with it. That’s one way to start your own business, and it’s not a bad one. It can take a lot of the guesswork out of getting started, it just costs a whole lot more up front.
But here’s what you may not know: fast food restaurants aren’t the only franchisers out there. Did you work finance in the military? Maybe you want to franchise a Padgett Business Solutions branch. Or maybe you were a civil engineer? Then a Mr. Rooter franchise is a possibility for you. Auto mechanic? You might have the Midas touch. Something you visit on the daily might be something you can work and own one day. Look it up.
If you have a dream of opening your own business and building it from the ground up, that’s okay too. That’s what your parent’s garage is for – don’t let them fill your head with garbage about parking their cars. Research the market, plan for what you’re trying to sell. You could even do a test run for the product. There’s nothing wrong with a free sample, as long as they’re coming back for more.
But there’s a good chance you have no idea where to start. That’s alright, you can still start your combination weightlifting gym and t-shirt company. You might even start by asking your spouse where to start, because there’s a good chance he or she already started a business from home while you were really struggling on your deployment to Ramstein. The U.S. Small Business Administration also has a Veterans Business Outreach Center, there are even civilian non-profits that want to get you into the game. They’ll teach you everything you need to know, from the supply chain to the demand center.
The best part about all of this is you don’t need an MBA to get started. Many, many successful businesses and corporations were started by people who had a good idea and would not give up on it. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple in the parent’s garage we talked about. Ray Kroc got McDonald’s going by sheer determination and ergonomics. Mat Best launched Article 15 using funny veteran videos. There is nothing in these examples you can’t do and they’ll be the first to tell you that.
Since many of you will be coming into a real job market and/or a real business market for the very first time, chances are good you’re strapped for cash and have little to no great credit history to fund your first business. In that case, there’s a lot you should probably know about getting started — but don’t freak out just yet, people want to help you there too.
The important thing to remember when starting your first business as a newly-separated veteran – or whenever you’re starting a business, really – is to not fear taking risks. There is no significant reward without significant risk, so if you’ve done the research and you took the training, there’s no reason you shouldn’t trust yourself to see this through. Our allies in the British Special Air Service have the perfect saying for this situation: Who Dares Wins.