Considering Entrepreneurship? Talk to These 3 People First

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(U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Sean Dennison)

As you get ready to exit the military or if you’ve been out of the service for a while and are looking to launch a company, there are some important things to know and do.

Some veterans rush into business ownership because they don’t want to report to someone else, they are attracted to the independence and freedom that comes with entrepreneurship, they want to take advantage of incentives and programs specifically for veteran entrepreneurs or they find it hard to secure traditional employment, among other reasons.

Whatever the reason, before taking the plunge into entrepreneurship, there are three people you should talk to.

1. Your Spouse/Family

While it might seem obvious to talk to your spouse and family about your ideas for entrepreneurship, I’m surprised each time I speak to a new business owner and their spouse or partner hasn’t fully been part of the vision for business ownership.

The people who support you, love you and who are financially, physically and emotionally participating in your career decisions should be included in your choice to take on the risk and reward of business ownership. Talk to your spouse about how much upfront money, time and additional resources you will be investing in the business. Discuss the best-case scenarios and the worst-case outcomes of this venture with the people who are closest to you. Be willing to listen to their concerns, questions and ideas to ensure they are fully bought in to, and supportive of, your vision.

This way, you can rely upon them when times are tough and celebrate with them when times are great.

2. Your Financial Advisers

Whether you have a financial planner, accountant, family friend or fellow veteran who is knowledgeable and trustworthy about budgeting and finances, consult an expert about how to allocate your resources properly so that you can invest in your business and grow your vision without jeopardizing your security or your family’s future.

These conversations can be hard because talking about money can be unpleasant, but it will be tempting to keep putting more and more money into the business as time progresses. The absence of a solid plan means you might risk more than you’re comfortable with. Good counsel here is valuable.

3. Other Entrepreneurs

If you will be pursuing a franchise option, starting a business from the ground up or taking over a business someone else started, talk to as many other business owners and entrepreneurs as you can.

Ask specific and direct questions about what they did that worked, and what they did that they regret. Tell them about the business that you’ll be starting and glean insights from their experience. The more you can learn from people who have done it well as well as from those who failed, the better you will be set up for success.

While research shows that veterans do very well as business owners, when starting a new business, it’s tempting to want to launch full steam ahead -- with all the enthusiasm, passion and energy of a true entrepreneur. But this is often where mistakes happen. Instead, gather a support system, enlist the expertise of financial pros and talk to others who have been down the path to ensure you’ll make decisions that set you and your business up for long-term success.

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