One of my favorite quotes that I often think about is by motivational speaker and author, Tony Gaskins. “If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to build theirs.” It is a quote that has shaped the way that I think about my career and about entrepreneurship.
For 12 years, I served faithfully on active duty. Every day, I placed the mission first and did everything I could to be a good Soldier and a competent leader. But as began the path toward transition I knew it was time for me to focus on myself and my family and for me that meant thinking about entrepreneurship after the military.
But why become an entrepreneur? Ask this question to a group of 10 entrepreneurs and you very well may get 10 different answers. Of course there are the obvious reasons of being able to control your own future and being able to call your own shots but the truth is, everyone has a different reason why they do it.
When I thought about entrepreneurship, I thought about creating something. I wanted to create something for my family that would allow us to live the life that I saw in movies. A life where vacations mean you can set work aside and actually enjoy being on the beach with your kids. A life where the decisions that you make each and every day truly make a difference. A life that I could be remembered for.
Thinking about entrepreneurship is more than just thinking about the money. The truth is, if you are going to find your why and connect with it, it has to be about something real to you.
Considering a New Path
I had pursued various businesses over the years, so I was familiar with the idea of entrepreneurship. While there was a lot for me to learn, one thing I knew is that I wanted to control my own path and it would be tough to do that working for someone else.
In transition, there were so many things to think about, and it all happened so fast. Every day, thousands of resumes are sent by eager job seekers and every day Human Resources departments evaluate those resumes. Entrepreneurship doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with pursuing a job. It just means that you know in your heart that a job working for someone else isn’t the end of your path.
I followed my career path and landed a great job doing what I love doing, but I continued to work on my entrepreneurial path gaining knowledge and resources along the way. Even as I progress in my career, I am learning skills that will help me along my entrepreneurial path.
The Perfect Training Program
According to the National Veteran-Owned Business Association, there are over 3 million veteran owned businesses in the United States. Why? Because unlike conventional business owners, veterans are put through one of the world’s most rigorous training programs designed to prepare you for leadership. The military.
As we deal with the challenges associated with the military, many of us don’t realize many entrepreneurs are dealing with similar challenges. Learning to solve problems, mentoring a group of team members to achieve a common goal, and dealing with adversity are all common themes in our military careers and they are things that help us excel as entrepreneurs.
One of my biggest fears when considering entrepreneurship was not being prepared to run my own business. I quickly began to realize that there were so many resources available to veterans that are designed to prepare you for business ownership just like boot camp prepared us for the military.
Programs like Patriot Boot Camp, are designed to give us the tools that we need to be successful Veteran business owners as well as connect with other Veterans with similar goals. One of the greatest things that I have discovered in my entrepreneurial journey are the other veterans and their individual stories. They are stories that need to be told and they are being told by the brave men and women with an idea that they believe needs to be shared.
Entrepreneurship is not an easy decision to make and not an easy path to take. At times it feels like climbing a mountain. Other times it feels like racing down the other side with your hands in the air and your feet off the pedals.
For those who dare to consider it, it is one of the most rewarding career paths to wander down. So, for that reason, I will continue to wander down this path looking for my dreams.
Jamaal Wheaton is a recently transitioned Army Veteran with over 12 years of Active Duty service. He is the Founder and Owner of the Wheaton Group, a Public Relations firm that specializes in being a voice for Veteran and Military related issues. Jamaal currently works as a Government Contractor for the Federal Government and shares his personal experience of transition with the hopes of helping others navigate the through their own transition.