“One of these days I’ll start my own veteran-owned business, but I need assistance.”
This is a common thought a lot of aspiring veteran entrepreneurs have. But so few of us actually take the chance and break out on our own. Any time you tinker around with your ability to afford housing and clothing, you’re obviously nervous. Most of us have families and obligations – and yes, even debt – that we really can’t afford to just ignore while chasing our dreams.
Yet at the same time we feel that Sunday night dread – knowing that we have to do “that drive” again tomorrow and see “those people” and deal with “that shit” over and over again … until when?
Maybe you’ve started thinking about the fact that you’re going to be doing this job or one just like it until you can’t anymore. That you’ll be trading your ever-diminishing time for money to buy things you need to continue trading your time.
Sure, maybe you save for retirement, or maybe you don’t. But even if you do, all you’re saving for is the ability to continue living after you can’t work anymore.
Why do veterans specifically think about starting their own businesses?
It’s because when we were in service – even with all of the bullshit we put up with – we were part of something bigger than us. We believed in the cause – protection of the free world. To never let terror destroy what we worked so hard to build.
After we leave the military and after the novelty of a slightly bigger paycheck wears off, we realize that we’re doing a job that has little to no meaning in the world. We miss being part of something great. Because now we’re part of something less meaningful: maximizing the profits of faceless corporations – all the while hoping we aren’t caught up in the next round of “right-sizing.”
The truth is, in this day and age being an employee is no less risky than being an entrepreneur. And in some ways it’s more risky. You’re turning over your ability to provide for your family to bureaucrats with spreadsheets who can decide on a whim to outsource your job, reorganize the company without you in it, or increase the profit margin by reducing the ranks.
In many ways, it’s far safer to work for yourself. Because YOU decide when you get paid. Well, really your customers do, but that’s based on how well you perform as an entrepreneur.
Veterans make for great entrepreneurs for a few key reasons:
– Veterans have a higher risk tolerance
– Veterans know how to learn, train and continuously grow
– Veterans have a sense of duty and pride
– Veterans aren’t afraid to do the shitty jobs in addition to the fun jobs
At the same time, many of us suffer along five days a week for years … and decades.
Because we don’t know how to get started, and we’re afraid of losing our all-important paychecks. The time between starting a company and making enough money to equal our current paycheck is the scariest, riskiest and most disconcerting time in a startup. And we’re not even sure if our idea will really work. We ask ourselves if we’re really cut out to take a shot at running our own business.
The risks of entrepreneurship are different than the risks of life in the corporate world, yet in many ways the overall level of risk is very similar. The biggest problem is that most of the risks of veteran entrepreneurship are up front. It might take a year to make enough money to pay yourself a salary. I don’t know a lot of people who have a year of savings handy – and those people are already either entrepreneurs or planning to retire early anyway.
So how do you minimize those risks? How do you cross the gap between disillusioned corporate cog to successful entrepreneur?
You need help getting started. And luckily, there’s a lot of help out there! You just have to know where to find it.
I’ve compiled 8 sources of startup funding for a veteran-owned business, click the link. I’ve used a lot of these myself in my startup companies, and I’ve seen others use each successfully.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone, but it can be for anyone. Anyone can start a company if they know how to do it and are ready and willing to take an amazing journey through life – instead of doing “that drive” to be surrounded by “those people” for the rest of your working life.
Read through these and see if any of these sources of funding might work for your idea. Whether you want to start a craft brewery, a restaurant, a high-end sports car garage, a consulting firm, a design shop … there’s an effective way to fund your business while still paying yourself a paycheck.
Want to see how the sausage is made? Every week we host Vetrepreneur Growth Sessions live with veteran entrepreneurs focused on growing their businesses. Sign up here: gijobs.com/growth
About the Author
Tom Cox is the CEO of Candl, the world’s first ultra-rugged 4G/LTE global hotspot with built-in light, power, connectivity and sound. You can learn more about Candl at getcandl.com.
P.S. If you want even more advice, you should read 5 Proven Steps to Starting Your Veteran-Owned Business
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