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…)
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…)
Funding my PreVeteran start-up might be the most demanding thing I’ve done in my life, and I’ve spent 7-years as an enlisted Sailor, 5-years married, and 3-years with children. Luckily the military provides amazing financial opportunities and pairs them with incredible financial resources. Keep reading for an overview of how you can bootstrap on a military income.
It’s All About That Base… Pay –
Early in my military career I was advised by a Jewish Orthodox Chaplain to seriously consider my finances before getting married. The revelation struck me as paramount. I was about to embark on a life-long journey filled with adventure, responsibilities, and conflicts. He explained to me that the easiest way was to set a baseline. I would treat Base Pay as such, and any allowances or bonuses would be socked away as an “opportunity fund”. (more…)
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. (more…)
Driving into Jackson Hole, Wyoming, July 2014.
The last 90 days of my 20-year career with the Air Force were fantastic! My wife, two small kids, and I traveled Space A to Europe, visited my wife’s family in Michigan and trekked across the country from Virginia to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where we will live our post-retirement life and raise our children. The change of pace from living in Northern Virginia and working at the Pentagon to living in Wyoming cannot be more different. The blue skies, big mountains, and slower pace of life are a very welcome changes indeed! (more…)