November 08, 2013 – If you plan on going into business after that military career ends, you may want to get a head start. Becoming an entrepreneur is going to be challenging, but in no way impossible.
Step One: Research
Use your downtime to go online to see if similar products or businesses exist in the area in which you would like to set up shop. While having competition is not necessarily a bad thing, you need to be confident that there is enough business to go around and that you are providing a service that customers can’t find on every street corner.
Step Two: Establish Support
According to ActiveDutyEntrepreneur.com, anyone who is in military service and plans to launch a business while still active is called an Active Duty Entrepreneur (ADE). The site says that those benefits you currently receive – healthcare, predictable career timetable, steady income, and a measure of job security — will serve you well as you move into business mode.
You absolutely need a support system of some kind. While you’re busy serving your country, you need to know that someone else can carry out day-to-day duties in your absence. If you’re married that person may be your spouse. If not, decide who you trust most to act as your surrogate. It may be a relative or friend, but should be a person you know that you can rely on while you focus on other duties.
Seek Expert Help
No one is an expert in every field. The military does not train the average soldier to deal with profit and loss responsibilities, notes EvanCarmichael.com, a website dedicated to veterans who own their own businesses. Profit and loss are the lifeblood of business. Unless you know the topic inside-out, seek the help of someone who can advise you. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a good place to begin. SBA offers a mentoring program, called the “Mentor-Protege” program, in which experienced businessmen and women can guide you as you start down the path of self-employment.
Create a Business Plan
According to ActiveDutyEntepreneur.com, building a business plan while your creative juices are really pumping can be tough, but it is necessary. If you don’t know how to write a business plan, take a business course or contact the SBA. This plan will include the services or products your company will be offering, who will run the day-to-day operations, how much it’s going to cost to start the business, where those funds are going to come from, and how much you expect to earn back within a reasonable period of time.
If you have the money put away, fund your business with your own capital. If not, borrow start-up funds from family or take out a small business loan. As a member of the military you can seek financial aid geared toward military entrepreneurs. The National Resource Directory is a government-run program that provides an overview of the military-oriented business loans and resources available to you.
Just as you have established credit in your personal life, your business will also need a line of dependable credit. Business credit cards from AmericanExpress provide one way for you to build credit as you grow your business. While deciding which credit card is right for you can seem like a daunting task, given the number of credit offers available, it all boils down to what benefits you most. Look for a low interest rate, a card that gives you reward points to be used on cash back or travel, and a company with a reputation for strong customer service.