January 30, 2017, by David McCauley – U.S. military veterans have valuable experiences and training that lend themselves toward becoming a small business owner. Running a small business is challenging and requires dedication and preparation, two qualities that military personnel have instilled from the early days of boot camp. Succeeding in the realm of business will require your best
Develop an Idea and Business Plan
Every great company began from a simple business idea. Perhaps on your last deployment you perfected an MRE taco recipe and want to open up a food truck. Maybe you discovered a love of logistics and have a knack for transporting goods from point A to point B. No matter where your idea came from, you can’t start a business until you have this founding idea firmly in mind.
Once you know what your business does, you’ll have to write a business plan on how it will accomplish this. If there’s one thing you can count on the military for, it’s the ability to have a plan for every situation. Lay out in detail what products or services you’ll offer. Talk about where your company will be located, how much it costs to run the business, maintain supplies, pay staff, and even run financial projections. Create a compelling case about why your business is worthy of being financed and believed in. This will help instill trust that you can deliver on your big idea.
In addition, this plan functions as a starter’s guide (for yourself) on how your business will theoretically be successfully run. You can refer back to it to help keep on course. Factor in how you’ll manage your daily operations, how you’ll manage your assets and equipment, and how many employees you’ll require. Are you a corporation, an LLC, or a nonprofit? You’ll need to plan for this well in advance!
Select a Location and Secure Financing
Now comes the time to actually choose a business location. Positioning is everything and it depends entirely on what you want to accomplish. Consider any competition and whether or not the area gets heavy foot traffic. Is it located near busy roads or freeways? Will it be easily accessible during peak hours or inclement weather? Each of these factors will influence your bottom line. Customers want to shop somewhere conveniently located and easy to access (not on the 15th floor).
You’ve put in the time and effort of selecting a location but now you’ll need to secure business financing. Most people will try to secure a loan or find an investor, though others might self-finance. Maybe you’ve socked away a sizeable nest egg after 20 years of duty and you want to use it to go toward your business. Getting financing is challenging, but if you’ve put together a dynamite business plan then it will make this process much easier.
Another option that’s proven popular is crowdfunding – essentially, you raise capital for your product or business development in advance from interested parties. On Kickstarter, you can create a project that highlights your business or product. You fill the page with information about what you’re creating and details about your qualifications and plans. If you successfully convince viewers to back you, they’ll pledge a specific amount of money that’s typically associated with a “reward,” ie, $20 for a Kickstarter exclusive t-shirt featuring your mascot or logo.
There are many moving parts when it comes to starting your own business. Use your specialized military training and ability to adapt and overcome to your advantage. Once you’ve come up with an idea and developed a plan, you’ll be well on your way. Choose your location carefully and then make your case for why investors or backers should take a chance on your company. Once you’ve accomplished these things and successfully started your business, the real work begins.
About the Author: D.M. McCauley is a former U.S. Navy sailor who worked in Intel. After the service, he has dedicated his time to writing and traveling with his significant other.