Why We Chose To Become PreVeteran Entrepreneurs (Part 2/4)

Make Your Own Tracks

Its important to find your own tracks in life. PreVeteran

Euphoria and Frustration

There is nothing like a nice, new, crisp idea to set your mind free and give you energy. That is also true of small business. The idea that you can take a thought and turn it into an existing entity, like a business, is a very intoxicating notion. This is especially true after spending years in the military, where the system and bureaucracy controls and regulates your every move.

When we conceptualized our first business, JHLocals.com, we had no idea what we were doing…but it was exciting! Neither of us had experience starting a business before, so in the wake of zero experience we just started doing everything we could to educate ourselves. We contacted the Small Business Administration and began taking classes in disciplines we thought would be helpful – marketing, accounting, trademarks, patents – you know, the garden variety for those aspiring to be small business owners. While taking the classes, we began developing a network with other small business owners in the Northern Virginia area.

Euphoria would frequently and unexpectedly turn into frustration. We were frustrated with our extremely low business knowledge. Frustrated with our self-assessed slow rate of progress. Yes, at times we would ask ourselves, “What in the hell are we doing again? More importantly, why?” I had a great job at the Pentagon that would carry us through the next three years very easily. I knew the job, the system, and the people. Did I really need to do this?

The simple answer was yes! Now three years in retrospect, an emphatic yes!! Maybe even a hells’ yes!!! Unbeknownst at the time, I was putting myself and Adrianna on the path to a very smart, PreVeteran military transition that I am now currently undergoing. And mind you, a very off-the-beaten-path one after moving from the DC area to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with no government job available in my hometown.

Despite the unconventional and very atypical approach, we felt very good about our transition…comfortable and very confident in fact. Why, you ask? Because through our frequent bounce back and forth between euphoria and frustration, we learned that this new “life” (for lack of a better term) is just another process to learn. And we learned another absolutely critical lesson. This new small business process and the environment it resides in is called the private sector. It is full of highs and lows that one must get used to in order to survive and flourish. We had to gain those skills…but we had the best weapon ever to help us along the way.

  • There’s just so much to learn with starting a small business! I’ve never looked into the Small Business Administration.. but it looks like a great place to start.

  • Meg, we agree…there is so much to learn about starting a small business. And unfortunately, very little is intuitive. The skills developed from failure seem to be more numerous than those of success. While the SBA is a good starting point, most will quickly outgrow its more general approach in favor of something more specific and tailored to their unique business.

    Is there something that worked especially well for you and your small business that you can share?

  • I actually took an online course created by Jonathan Wold that specifically addressed the steps to take in launching a web design business. It was extremely helpful. I’m thankful for the step by step instructions, which saved me so much time in getting up and running. The next most valuable thing was probably feedback about my business plan and advice/warnings from peers working in design and other freelance ventures. It has been good to learn from others’ good and bad experiences so that hopefully I can avoid some of those calamities.

  • With so many different avenues for learning these days, its good to hear you had success with Jonathan’s program. On one hand, having the internet is great…there is (literally) endless amounts of information covering nearly any topic you can dream up. On the other hand, there is endless amounts of information that may or may not be factual, may or may not be answering the questions you have, and may or may not be presented in a manner that saves you both time and money. Thanks for commenting!