When leaving the military, it can be difficult for many to decide what their career path looks like. A commonality among veterans is the entrepreneurial spirit that is cultivated through the discipline and skillset that comes with being in the military. These skills include determination, relationship-building, being process-oriented and having a passion for service, which can easily be transferred into establishing and running a business.
When deciding what to do next after making the ultimate decision of returning home and departing from my active role in the military, I knew I had to be selective and had a laundry list of considerations to keep in mind. I relied heavily on my experience and skills to help find the best fit. Through a lot of my research, it became clear that franchising was the right route for me, and ultimately stumbled upon a drug testing franchise, Fastest Labs, which checked every box I was personally looking to fulfill in this Venture.
While the transition back into a more traditional career after being in the military for over four years can be an adjustment, I want to share a handful of tips for recent veterans who are vetting opportunities and looking to take that next step, all of which served as a guiding light through this new, riveting venture.
Ask how you can give back to your community
When looking for the perfect business, there are a lot of options to consider, especially in franchising. Ranging from gyms, security companies, manufacturing businesses to restaurant concepts -- the options can be overwhelming at first. When in the first phases of narrowing down your options, I always kept my experiences in the military and deep-rooted appreciation for serving others. This was an aspect of my history with the military, i knew I had to carry into my new business -- whatever it may be. Finding what motivates you can help in finding a business that provides a valuable, unique service to the community. One thing that drew me to Fastest Labs was how much it felt like a family. That support system and how well the business is run was a huge driving factor in why I decided to open a Fastest Labs in 2020. Local businesses play an integral role in one's community, and asking how you can help support it is critical. It is important to look for the values in not only the offerings but of the concept, but the overall business model. These values play a major role in how you will be supported, which trickles down to the impact you will have on your community.
Search for an industry you have a baseline understanding of
Tapping into your past experience can assist you when considering your next industry for work. There is definitely room to grow and learn, but jumping head first can be eased if you understand -- or have some level of personal experience -- with the industry, even if it's from the consumer perspective. Coming from a military background, routine and surprise drug tests were part of the equation. When opening up a Fastest Labs, there was a comfort in having knowledge of how the business worked, as well as a motivation to learn as much about the industry as possible. Look for an industry that you find interesting and build off of that in your search.
Focus on the skills required -- not the tasks you'll complete
When starting a business, the lists of tasks can be intimidating. There were various classes and certifications that were needed before opening a Fastest Labs of Columbus, Ga., not to mention learning and instilling the best practices behind running a successful company. I knew that my military training and experiences -- such as delegation, multitasking, and problem-solving -- would provide an impactful foundation for running and growing a successful business. When you're looking for a next step in your career, try not to get hung up on the technical tasks required, rather, focus on the skills needed to be successful, and you'll see the boxes being checked of naturally.
Have the hard discussions early
Money can be a sensitive topic, and it can be hard to factor it into the conversation when your heart is already sold on an idea, which is why your realistic budget should be top-of-mind from the beginning. It is also important to do your research, because costs can differ depending on what franchises you are considering. Think about every aspect of the business and what will be required for you to invest. Knowing that entrepreneurship was on the table, my fiancé and I began to save while I was still overseas, which allowed us to open our business in record time (six weeks) and hit the ground running, even amid the pandemic. Taking financials into consideration is key, and making a plan on how to spend and save early will surely be a pillar in your success story.