At work I ask people all the time, “how is your brand?” Normally my question is met with an inquisitive facial expression from the person I am speaking to. Most shrug off the question as being gimmicky because they feel I deliberately interject a business term into a routine personal conversation. And I do. But I do so to make a point. How often do you, the service member, take time to think of yourself as a brand? If you have ever taken a business class, your instructor will talk at length about a company’s brand. It is the product or service they deliver and the personal care and attention they devote, day in and day out, to provide the best-possible experience to their customer.
If you think about a brand is that context, it is easy to see that service members fit into the same narrative. They deliver a product or service—or both—to their organization (the customer). How well we deliver that product or service, day in and day out, becomes their individual brand. (more…)
Intrapreneur: An employee within an organization who uses entrepreneurial skills to develop a new product or service, or improve an existing product or service for the company’s benefit.
Based on this definition, do you (or have you) ever considered yourself a military Intrapreneur? Ever seen a process or practice in your organization that wasn’t working and you came up with a solution without being asked to do so? Ever took it to heart when your boss said, “leave the organization in better shape than when you got it” and devised a smart solution to enduring challenges? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are a military Intrapreneur.
The Safety of Intrapreneurship
Generally speaking, Intrapreneurship feels safe to its practitioners for a couple reasons. First, they are taking on these actions while employed with full benefits for themselves and their families. Second, and perhaps most importantly, the work is accomplished to benefit the unit and its cause.
The only “risk” (if you want to call it that) is time. They are taking on additional work and still getting paid the same. Over my 20+ year career, I ran across this group of officers and enlisted folks frequently and was constantly in awe of their innovative solutions to unique challenges. Despite the time commitment, they always seemed to find the personal bandwidth to be innovative with additional work and also perform very well in their core jobs.
Here is the question…where do these military Intrapreneurs go when we stop talking Intrapreneurship and start talking Entrepreneurship? (more…)
The great internet source known as Wikipedia describes it as “an unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance.” In military speak; you can’t treat your home like a battlefield, especially if you’re planning on starting a business on the side. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom I found when starting my business Pillar Games as a PreVeteran.
Unique Work Environment –
The definition refers to an unconscious pattern, but I could find nothing else close to what had to be done once I started my business, let alone a family. As you well know, military life is demanding. All parties involved feel some measure of extra stress due to the nature of a warfighting organization, but we as PreVeteran’s know that stress can distract from our entrepreneurial goals. So we mitigate!
As a junior Sailor stationed in Okinawa Japan, I commuted 30-40 minutes to and from work every day. I took that time for granted. It wasn’t until I PCS’d to a 7-minute commute did I realize the value of that time to prepare my mind, from navy work to entrepreneurial work. It may have started out as an unconscious pattern, but now that I have a 7-minute commute, it must be conscious or it doesn’t happen.
The value gained from my long drive can be gained in many different ways. Some are inclined to workout; others may tuck themselves in their home offices to avoid passing stress on to their families. Whatever works for you should be done regularly and with intent, but compartmentalization is not just about stress. It also relates to the ability to separate what makes you a good soldier (all-encompassing term) from what makes you successful in business. (more…)
No matter where you are in your small business startup, you should always be trying to find better ways to communicate great content with your followers. Whether you are selling a product or providing a service, the method for how you deliver that content is becoming as important as the content itself. For new small business owners, here is a list of the more standard ways to provide information to your followers: Social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, a Blog, and e-mail marketing.
It may not be obvious, but when you provide information to your customers and followers via social media, Facebook and Twitter take care of how the content is delivered. It is part of their service to you. Likewise with a Blog, popular website applications like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal make blogging simple and also have plugins, templates, and modules that can give your blog a polished and professional look without you having to do any backend coding. Again, it is their service to you and has become a widely used standard for business use. (more…)
Full Circle – Necessity is the Mother of Invention (Again)
Learning that our military service is the best, low-risk, stepping stone to small business development was only part of the story. It needed to be told. We were so surprised how well the system worked that we wanted to share the model with all military members in the hope they would use it to build a small business instead of being solely focused on employment following their military service.
To tell our story, in June 2013, I wrote the book “Active Duty Entrepreneur” outlining the concepts for why doing small business startup while serving is a good idea. Since 2013, we’ve successfully sold the book on Amazon but you can get a free download here by subscribing to our mailing list. After getting feedback from several readers, we discovered limitations to providing concepts only. They loved the idea but lacked concrete steps to actually start and grow a small business. We needed to go another layer deeper. (more…)
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. (more…)