Over the past three years of creating, stabilizing, and now growing our small business, our entire thought process regarding our military service drastically changed. We used to think the environment that provided our family a salary, healthcare, and (if we stayed long enough) a pension was simply there to take care of me (the warfighter) and provide stability to family over 20 years of deployments and training away from home. And make no mistake, it is! But we began seeing that system in a completely new light as we progressed with our small business.
Even with two small kids (ages 5 and 2 at the time), we made time to do our small business startup, a little at a time, on nights, weekends, and holidays. Again, looking back three years, this is an amazing opportunity we had because of my military service. We had time. Lots of time, if you think about time a bit differently. Counting nights, weekends and holidays, we had almost an entire year! Did we use every single day off to work on the new small business? No way…plus that would not be very fun! Instead, we sought to find a work/life/small business balance with that time. We made targeted use of our time to keep the ball moving forward. Some weeks we did nothing. Other weeks we did quite a bit. Life gets busy but knowing you have the time makes all the difference.
We now realize that NOT using our military service to start a business would have been a huge opportunity cost to our futures. Each day you get closer to retirement or separation and don’t use that system, you are literally throwing money and more importantly opportunity out the window.
We also learned some other very important things we want to share. In most cases, to start your PreVeteran business, you don’t need any money. You need knowledge through action. You need to become accustomed to the new environment and learn along the way. In conjunction with using your time, you can make small investments into you and your business. It starts with free classes to learn very basic concepts then moves to spending small sums of money contracting individuals or companies to accomplish some skills you don’t have and/or don’t have the time for. As you stick to it and keep moving the ball forward, you develop your entrepreneurial CEO skill set.
As your small business knowledge increases, you become more aware of business and how market forces shape our military. Along with helping your own business, in the aggregate, many of you together may be able to help the Department of Defense make better business decisions. Being present and capable of noticing these business trends that probably went completely unnoticed before can now be seamlessly integrated into your daily repertoire. After all, the Department of Defense is a $500B/year business, even if it’s uniformed and civilian workforce has never thought of it that way.
And this is all possible because your military service is so much more if (just) given the opportunity.