Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show.
Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today I wanna talk about how veterans can find purpose through entrepreneurship after the military. A lot of us lack a sense of purpose after leaving the military. Uh, a lot of veterans are self-starters, highly motivated type individuals. Sometimes we even prefer to work alone, which we can pretty easily do if we’re running our own business.
And there’s nothing wrong with that type of thing, right? If you prefer to work by yourself, as opposed to in big groups, [00:01:00] um, you don’t have to. If you own a business, uh, if you own a business, you could work in a team, you can hire people, you can contract out to other people who may have other skills that maybe you don’t have.
Maybe you’re really great at one particular thing, but marketing your business isn’t your thing. You don’t necessarily need to be an expert at that because there are people out there who can do marketing for you. And so you can work with those people as well, as much as little as you need to. Um, so it’s kind of a better way in some cases to get out into the workforce without having to dive into a nine to five job that’s sucking the life out of you because you hate your coworkers.
You can’t stand the job, you can’t stand the. Community or the environment that you’re working in, um, you know, it may not be sustainable to work by yourself long term, uh, depending on what it is that you’re doing, but it’s a [00:02:00] good start and you can always add people to the mix as time goes on. Uh, where you start to see maybe holes in your business and you need some help with different things.
Uh, I know I. As an entrepreneur for, uh, probably close to a decade after, uh, getting out of the military because I just really enjoyed the benefits of working for myself, being my own boss. Um, some of those benefits, I mean, for me, it gave me control over my life, over my career. Um, I got what out of it, what I put.
Um, if I wanted to take time off and I didn’t want to spend a ton of time working late nights and all that kind of stuff, I didn’t have to, and I could take time to relax, to go on a trip with my family to eventually when I [00:03:00] needed it, I, when I realized I needed it, I should say, I was able to get the mental health treatment that I needed without having to take time off of work and have to get approval from a boss.
Um, Gave me more freedom in that sense. Um, and for me, it gave me the opportunity to create something that was meaningful to me. I liked being able to take a concept or an idea or something from absolutely nothing, a blank page in a notebook, and come up with something from my own head, my own ideas. And that just.
Started working and created an income. It put food on the table, kept a roof over my family’s head. Uh, it, it allowed us to do some great things, allowed me to travel to some cool places, meet some cool people, uh, and gave me lots of opportunities that I maybe wouldn’t have otherwise had. Had I not started my own business.
[00:04:00] Um, and the other thing too is the business that I started, so I I was in software development and website design. I never went to school for any of that type of stuff. I’m a hundred percent self-taught on all of that. Um, and there were very few places that were going to be willing to hire somebody without the formal education.
I was missing. And so I decided to just dive in and do it myself, and it became a very marketable skill. I was able to build a business which I eventually sold. Um, I was able to create products that. Are now serving thousands and thousands of people on all these different websites. Uh, it was a, an incredible experience to be able to do, and now that’s a marketable skill that I have.
I didn’t necessarily have to go to school, but I, I kind of learned [00:05:00] through. The trial and error of entrepreneurship. Um, so I was able to use the skills that I had, that I had developed, I should say, uh, in ways that I maybe wouldn’t have been able to use if I worked for another company. Even if I was able to get hired by somebody else, uh, I wouldn’t necessarily have the create a freedom to do the things that I ended up doing.
Um, the other nice thing is the, the potential upside for the. Uh, the financial side of things, when you take a look at, uh, a job, if you have a fixed salary or even an hourly rate, there’s a limit to how much you can earn. Uh, if you have a salary, you’re, you know, you’re gonna make x amount of dollars per year.
If you work a certain number, um, of hours per week and you get paid hourly, uh, you know, there’s a limit. Even if you work overtime. Uh, if you. Even twice the amount of hours, uh, there’s still a limit to how much you can make, uh, [00:06:00] when you run the show. There’s really no limit to how much you can make. Um, it’s really just based on the capacity of your business.
And, uh, you know, depending on the type of business, like I sold software, I could create a piece of software once and I could sell that a million times. There really was no limit to the amount that I could sell it. Um, and so there are jobs out there where there is nothing but upside for, uh, for the type of business that you, you get into.
Um, and it gives you a lot of flexibility too to balance your, your work life and professional life. I talked a little bit about vacations, but even just, you know, being able to make it to your kids sports games or practices or, um, you know, Your family wants to take a day trip. You can take a day off and go and do things like that.
You’re the boss. You can do the things that you want to do. Um, now it’s not [00:07:00] always completely flexible. There’s gonna be some challenges. Um, you’re going to. Uh, probably, especially in the beginning, face long hours, um, and a lot of hard work to build a successful business, um, with anything. You look at people who are these, quote unquote overnight successes, but what you don’t see are the countless.
Days and nights that these people put in all their blood, sweat, and tears into this business. It’s not gonna be easy sailing from day one, but you can put in a lot of hard work in the beginning and you can create something that allows you to have that freedom that I was talking about. That flexibility in your personal lives.
Um, there will be financial risks too and some uncertainties. Um, I would highly suggest if you are looking to get into, uh, any sort of business that you’re starting on your own, that you have, oh gosh, I’d say maybe a minimum of three to six months of, [00:08:00] uh, living expenses. So take a look at your budget. Take a look at how much you spent.
Um, just look at your bank account. Look at your credit card statements. Look at how much you spent over the last. Three, six months, the last few months and see how much money you’re gonna need for the next six months. And if you don’t have that in the bank right now, I would not suggest jumping into starting a business.
Uh, at least not. A hundred percent. I mean, if you have a job on the side, or sorry, a job, and then you start a, a business on the side, uh, that’s okay because you’re able to slowly get into it. And then as the business starts getting some traction, then you can maybe start to replace that income with the business that you had on your job.
You can maybe leave that job. Um, but if you’re gonna jump in. Both feet. Diving into the deep end, I would highly suggest having some money saved up so that you can continue to live the lifestyle that you [00:09:00] live. Maybe even scale it back a bit, uh, so that you’re maybe not going out to dinner every night or every, you know, couple, couple times a week or whatever it is.
Uh, save some of that money so that you can stretch that money a little bit further, give your business a, a chance to start to take off, um, because. You may start a business, you may think it’s a great idea, you may have a great plan. You may have everything you think is in, in order, uh, but then nothing happens and nobody is buying your products or your services, whatever it is that you’re offering, um, or, or at least not as many as you are anticipating.
And so you, you’re gonna need to have something to fall back on. Otherwise the business is gonna fail right away, and you don’t want that to happen. You there are risks financially, there’s some uncertainties when it comes to that. Um, you’re definitely gonna need to have a solid business plan, uh, and understand what the market is looking for.
Um, [00:10:00] again, you could think that you got the greatest thing in the world, but if nobody wants it, it doesn’t really matter how great the idea that you have is cuz it’s really nothing more than that. It’s just an idea. You have to do some research, uh, survey your target audience. Um, not, and I’m not talking about family and friends because those are the type of people who are always gonna say, yeah, this is such a great idea.
Oh my gosh. I, I would absolutely buy it. And they may be a customer on day one, but on. 20, they’re nowhere to be sit found. You won’t find those people again. They’ll, they’ll, they’ll support you in the beginning, but then they kind of disappear. And so, uh, not faulting them, it’s just, you know, they have their own expenses that they need to worry about and their own, uh, household finances that they’re dealing with.
And, um, A hundred percent [00:11:00] fund your business. Uh, that, that’s just unrealistic. So, um, you’re gonna have to understand where the people are that are going to pay you for the things that you’re offering. Um, and I also highly suggest, I know a lot of veterans like to be kind of do, do the, these things on their own.
They, the idea of being an entrepreneur is great because you can work by yourself. You don’t have. Have a huge network of people, but I would highly, highly, highly suggest having a network of some sort. Uh, we had, uh, we call the mastermind group where it was, uh, four to five different, uh, business owners in the same, uh, industry.
We were in some cases competitors, but sometimes we were offering complimentary products to each other. Um, and we. Help each other out. Um, we’d bounce ideas off each other. We, we’d just kinda, [00:12:00] um, just support each other in ways that we wouldn’t necessarily get. You don’t necessarily get that from a spouse, uh, or a parent or a neighbor or just a friend that you would go grab a beer with, um, other like-minded business people.
If you get those people together, a lot of times they. Each other, grow each other’s businesses by, um, saying, Hey, I tried this thing and it worked for me. Why don’t you try this? It might solve that problem that you’re having. Um, you know, I found this tool or this resource, uh, that maybe you didn’t know about.
And they, you know, all of that knowledge comes together and it, it just creates, uh, like one big pool of, of information that’s available. Um, and it’s, it’s really great. It’s. It’s a great thing to have, uh, in your, in your corner, is that network of people who can support you. Um, [00:13:00] again, it’s not for everybody, but if you have that network in place, um, it will, it will probably help you more often than not.
Um, you know, I maybe not having direct competitors in that group, but other similar. Uh, similar companies, uh, people from those companies. So, uh, you know, if you’re a service company, other service industries, um, you know, if you provide, if you manufacture products, you know, other manufacturers, but maybe not necessarily the same type of product, uh, that you make, you know, those types of things will help everybody in that group.
So, um, there, there are a lot of other resources too, so it’s not just, um, Uh, you know, weekly mastermind group where you, you sit down and discuss things there, there’s also LinkedIn groups that you can post to when you have, uh, questions or, you know, a problem that you’re trying to solve. Hey, has everyone uh, faced this issue?
And, uh, can, can you help me solve this issue? And [00:14:00] then people might have solutions to those issues and, and they might help you out. You know, tho those are other ways, but, you know, a mastermind group is a more structured, formalized way of doing it. And that might. A better way. Uh, you start to learn about the individuals in your group.
Uh, you start to help each other out. Uh, you, you, you know what their pain points are. They know what your pain points are, and when they discover things, they may even outside of the, the group, they may just reach out to you and say, Hey, this is something I think might help you. I remember you were talking about this a couple weeks ago.
Uh, you know, this might be a, a benefit to you. Um, but there’s a lot of other resources available too. Uh, the small business adminis. SBA has programs and resources to help you plan, uh, launch, manage, and even grow your business. So no matter what phase of the business lifecycle you’re in, uh, whether it’s just an idea that you’ve scratched out on a napkin or [00:15:00] it’s something that you’ve already started, uh, you’re trying to grow it.
Trying to figure out how to manage the business. Uh, SBA has resources available there. Um, they also have, uh, I believe they have loans that they, they offer, uh, and assistance for, uh, getting federal contracts. So, Definitely check those resources out through the SBA Small Business Administration. Um, the VA also has a veteran entrepreneur portor portal, uh, the v E p Veteran Entrepreneur Portal, um, that makes it easier to access, uh, federal services.
Similar to SBA helps you start a business, uh, access financing, grow your business, um, helps you find federal contracts. Um, and there’s also this program, which I, I wasn’t aware of until I started doing some research for this episode, but there’s a program called the Veteran, or sorry, vet’s First Verification Program, uh, which basically [00:16:00] verifies your business as a veteran owned or service disabled.
Uh, business and it can give you a leg up when contracting with the va. So if you have a, a product or a service that the VA may, uh, find useful, uh, definitely worth checking out that program, um, because that will help you, uh, move to the top of the pack when they’re evaluating different businesses that that just gives you, uh, a leg up in winning those contracts.
The VA has a vocational rehabilitation and employment programs. Uh, and those programs range a wide variety of different things from finding traditional jobs and, uh, educational resources, training, those types of things. Um, but one of the programs that they offer is, uh, The self-employment track, uh, which can help with developing a business plan, training in various things that you might need to know, like how to market your business, your business, [00:17:00] finances, managing things like that.
Uh, just overall managing a business. I mean, that that’s not something that. Maybe it comes natural to you and you may need some help with that. So, so this, uh, VA vocational rehabilitation and employment programs, uh, the self-employment track can help with that. Um, and it, they can also help you with implementing your business plan.
And I, a lot of these sound similar. Uh, the between, uh, the couple VA programs, sba, uh, they, they all sound very similar. But there’s nuances to, to all of these things. So, uh, you know, take a look at those. And the reason why I’m, I’m bringing these, I’m bringing these up to you right now in this episode, is because there’s a lot of different options available, a lot of different resources available.
So if you’re thinking, gee, I don’t know how to start a business, I don’t know. How do I make a business plan? Do I even need a business plan? Do, how do I get financing? Do I need to have financing? Um, you know, all of these. Are are kind of tricky. And [00:18:00] the answer to all of that is it depends. It depends on the type of business, depends on what your current financial situation looks like.
It look, it depends on, uh, you know, what your market is, who, who you’re going after, all of these things. It depends, right? Um, and so I’m, I’m just bringing up these resources because you never know what one of these programs might have to offer that will just help. Get that kickstart that you need to get your business up and running and, and move from there.
Um, there there’s also nonprofit organizations and other resources available as well. We’ve talked about plenty of those resources on this podcast through different episodes. Uh, a couple of them, um, uh, boots to books, uh, was just recently, uh, on, uh, we talked about veterans starting a, a franchise business.
So if you’re, if you. Wanting to go Gungho. [00:19:00] Right in off the bat, solo, uh, entrepreneur. You can still be an entrepreneur, uh, but operating a franchise business, which already has a proven business model, a lot of the resources are available through the, the franchise, uh, business itself. So think about, uh, you know, a McDonald’s or, uh, dunking Donuts or a Starbucks, uh, maybe not a Starbucks.
I’m not sure if they’re franchised, but a lot of. Companies like that. Fast food industries, but I mean, it’s so many different, uh, industries. It’s not just, uh, in the, the restaurant or fast food industries. So many different industries have, uh, franchises, uh, and they have resources available. They want you to succeed, so they’re gonna help you succeed.
They already have the marketing done. They already have, uh, a lot of the business plan pretty much done. Uh, really it’s. Running the business and, and the day-to-day stuff that you’re gonna be responsible for. So, um, you know, a franchise is another great op option there. Uh, WP Connects [00:20:00] is a organization that gets veterans involved in the WordPress industry, which is an industry I was a part of for, uh, you know, probably close to a decade or a little more.
Military transition round table. Uh, another organization that we talked about on the podcast, shift six is another one. It connects veterans with the auto industry. So, uh, you know, if you’re looking to get into the automotive industry, maybe it’s, uh, as a mechanic or, uh, you know, some other, uh, part of the auto industry, that’s another option as well.
Battlefields to ball Fields gets veterans involved in officiating sports. So, uh, you know, while that may not necessarily be an entrepreneur, uh, type of thing, uh, it, it still, it gets you into a career that maybe you wouldn’t necessarily, uh, Have access to otherwise, you know, they help you with the training, they help you with the equipment [00:21:00] that you might need for various sports.
Um, and gosh, there, there’s a, a whole host of other resources out there. So think about. Like checking out some of those organizations too. Um, go through the, the list of, uh, episodes on this podcast. We, we have, uh, an employment section on the homepage. Click on that, and there’s all those episodes that are listed there.
I think there’s over, there’s over 40 episodes that are listed that talk about different organizations or, uh, even just different paths that people took to start their own businesses or, uh, get involved, uh, in that transition after leaving the military. So, Uh, you know, that, that’s just another option there.
So check, check out those episodes as well. And I’ll, I’ll link to some of these in the show notes, uh, too, but, but going back to the networking and that, that group of people, I, I, it’s really important to have people in your corner who are there to help you to make sure that, uh, [00:22:00] you are not just sitting there on your own struggl.
And failing on your own. Uh, another organization we talked about, just talking about episodes on this podcast are, uh, is a veteran’s beer club. While it sounds like a drinking club, uh, it’s really a networking group and it’s a place where you can go and you can talk to other entrepreneurs, other business owners, other uh, just other people in different industries, and you.
Just connect with those people and, and maybe there’s the opportunity to work together or help each other out, or, or even, but perhaps even sell your, your products or your services to some of those people who may be in that, that market. It’s not a hundred percent geared towards that, but if that opportunity arises that it’s there too, you know, so it’s mostly there to help each other out.
It’s really to help network. Uh, maybe you’re not the right person for, um, Helping this person out, but you maybe, you [00:23:00] know that person who can help somebody else out, and so you can refer them out to somebody. Um, but it’s, it’s really that community mentality where in, like in the military, you know, we’re, we worked as a team, we operated as a team and uh, we were stronger as a team.
And so the more you can have that team mentality, the better off you’re gonna be. Um, There’s also groups on LinkedIn. I, I may have mentioned that earlier, groups on LinkedIn that you can chat with people about different things. It doesn’t necessarily have to be veteran focused, uh, groups. They could be specific to whatever industry you’re looking to get into and break into there.
So like, be, just be aware of these opportunities that are out there. Um, so I mean, overall like it’s. Beneficial to be an entrepreneur. Um, you’re, you’re, if you’re seeking a sense of purpose, I mean, creating something from scratch and building it up from nothing and seeing how, how far you can take [00:24:00] it, uh, it, it’s super fulfilling when you get that business off the ground and that first dollar comes through it, it makes you feel.
You’re holding a million dollars in your hand because it’s like, you created that and that’s yours. That’s a hundred percent yours. It’s not a, a paycheck where you’re getting a, a portion of the pay that somebody else got, uh, coming in. Um, so I really do want to encourage people to, uh, check out entrepreneurship if you’re transitioning outta the military or if you recently transitioned out.
Um, it’s, it’s an. Seek out those resources I talked about the sba, the the VA resources, uh, and some of the other nonprofits that I talked about. Um, and there’s a lot of support out there that’s gonna help you. Um, you don’t need to know everything about everything with starting a business. Um, and so check those out and see [00:25:00] if that might be the case for you that these, these, uh, organizations will help you.
Get your business, get your idea, get your dream off the ground, and up and running. So let me know what you think, uh, about this episode about. Uh, you know, being an entrepreneur as a veteran, uh, maybe you’re an entrepreneur yourself. Let me know how that’s going for you. Uh, let’s talk about it and, uh, you know, just reach out.
Let me know how that’s going for you. Let me know what you think about this episode. And thank you for, uh, taking the time to listen to this. Hopefully this information was helpful. Um, and. I’ll have all of the links to some of these organizations that we talked about, the sba, the va, uh, resources and, and things like that.
I’ll have the links to that in the show notes. So if you are interested in that, check out the show notes and, uh, we’ll connect you with those resources. So thank you for, uh, taking the time to listen to this episode and hopefully we’ve provided you with some resources that [00:26:00] will help you out.
Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.