4 Keys to Starting a Successful Franchise Business After the Military

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Army veteran Matt Noe started a Fastest Labs franchise in Columbus, Georgia with the help of his fiancee. (Courtesy of Matt Noe)

After two deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan as a fire support specialist, Matt Noe left the Army and pursued his lifelong dream of owning his own business. He quickly learned just how much work starting a business can be, so he opened a franchise.

We may be familiar with the ever-present fast food franchises that dot landscapes worldwide, but any business or business type can be a franchise. Franchisees start their own business but use a proven, workable system and distribution networks while paying a franchisor for the name, marketing, products, services and quality control.

Franchisors also provide ongoing education and training, along with manuals and business advice to their franchisees. This is the setup that Noe was looking for, but he didn’t know what he would open.

“I looked at everything that interested me,” he told Military.com. “I looked at gyms, security companies, everything, but then I found Fastest Labs.”

Fastest Labs is a drug and DNA testing company focused on providing fast results. For Noe, this was the perfect business. He liked the company, the profit margins it offered and it was something he thought he would enjoy.

Noe says his military service helped prepare him for the effort and organization required to get started, and he has a few words of advice for anyone looking to get into any business, franchise or not.

1. Contribute to your community.

Opting for a drug and DNA testing company over a restaurant franchise gave Noe the opportunity to continue serving his local area, Columbus, Georgia. Since being motivated is an essential element to being a successful business owner, the tradition of service Noe picked up in the Army continued into his civilian life.

“I love doing DNA testing, and I love helping families out here,” he says. “Opening any business can be a challenge, but every day I walked in the door, I kept that mindset.”

(Courtesy of Matt Noe)

2. Understand your industry.

Everyone in the military, including Noe, has undertaken a drug test at some point. So he knows what it’s like to be on one side of drug testing. He had some idea of what the job would entail. Still, he had room to grow.

“DNA testing was a lot to learn, and with everything else, it was like drinking from a fire hose,” he says. “You’re doing everything from tracking specimens to creating invoices and running the books.”

3. Focus on the skills needed, not the daily tasks.

Noe had to take classes and obtain his certification before opening a franchise while running a successful business at the same time. He wasn’t concerned with what he had to do in the course of his day. He knew that if he was trained properly, he could get there.

He advises new business owners not to get hung up on technical tasks required and instead focus on the skills needed to be successful. In the military, he learned to solve problems creatively and manage his time, and that sees him through most of the daily tasks.

4. Have the financial talks early on.

Noe left the military in 2011 and started his business in 2020 during a global pandemic. Luckily for him, his fiancee helps with some of his business operations. The couple decided very early to start saving to open their own business and, knowing the work involved, were mentally and financially prepared.

“I’m fortunate enough to have her here now,” Noe says of his fiancee, who helps with the accounting for the business. “She helps me out with that and helps the business to grow.”

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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