• Making the transition out of the military is tough and over half of the Veteran population is out of the work force.
  • There are ways to leverage the brotherhood that is your background in the military and we talk about costs to get started.
  • I give you some direction on how to build a business around a platform that can cost you as little as $20/month

Leaving the Military, Now What?

There is a systemic problem we face as a society in regards to how we assist our veterans, post-service.

You can actually dive into VA.gov to see the full reports and summaries but I’ll go ahead and summarize some of it for you.

53.5% of all veterans are currently not in the Labor Force with only 39.7 working full-time.

40,000 veterans (as of 2018) are currently listed as homeless, with 15,000 of those listed as non-sheltered.

That all said, the median income for Veterans that are working full-time is actually slightly above civilian income (~$43,000 versus ~$42,000).

In other words, the ones that are able to secure work aren’t charity cases but rather appear to be just as, if not more, productive and fruitful to their organizations than their citizen counterparts.

But man, that 53.5% number really stuck with me…

Over half of our veterans aren’t just not working full-time, they’re not working at all.

Now, these figures DO include those of retirement age, so that’s certainly something to take into account.

Even if that skews the figure by 10%, it’s still way off the charts in relation to labor participation rates for civilians.

And that’s really what I wanted to talk to my dear friend, Vaughn Page, about in the latest episode of Entrepreneur Hour.

Vaughn took a risk and it paid off.

In my view, he always had the skills and talent to succeed in any form of entertainment so when he popped up in my Facebook Messenger with voice-over spots he had done, it came as little surprise to me.

But what was most fascinating in my discussion with him was the behind the scenes chatter.

Right?

The how do you navigate family matters stuff?

How do you decide you’re going to skip re-enlisting and go do your own thing?

And then finally, how do you re-program your mind to start thinking with a more entrepreneurial mindset of self-promotion versus being told what to do every single day.

Vaughn has made it work and I couldn’t be happier for him.

I’ve known both him and his family since the day my own family packed up and decided to move to Georgia.

My brother flew out to be with Vaughn in San Antonio for his INDOC Graduation in the Air Force.

*Vaughn and my brother, Brandon, at his Air Force Ceremony

Left to Right: Chris (me), Brandon, Vaughn

Subsequently, Vaughn then returned the favor by attending my brother’s graduation from The University of Georgia a few short years later.

Having the ability to utilize my show to share some of these stories and experiences of friendship I felt was an amazing opportunity but also to hopefully serve Veterans on a deeper level.

Because Vaughn, like many of our Vets, was very much in a situation where figuring out the next move was a tall order.

And to say support of his dream to pursue a career in acting might have been absent by his peers and direct authority figures is probably putting it lightly.

Figuring out what those next steps looked like took support from both his family and civilian friends and fortunately, it is all working out for him.

But what about those that have yet to create those same opportunities from themselves?

What do they do?

And moreover, what can we do as an entrepreneurial community to show them that this startup life can be a fruitful and viable path.

Here’s what I discovered people are doing and I’ll give you, the Vet seeking these opporutunities, with my commentary on what you should expect with each of these avenues.

Buy Into a Franchise

This was the first one that came to mind for me.

Why?

Because Veterans have been specifically trained to follow commands and maintain a well-oiled machine.

Franchises like things to be done a certain way.

It keeps brand continuity and user experience consistent.

I always talk about this but how much of a different experience do you have from one fast food restaurant to another?

Many greatly vary contingent upon location and ultimately who runs it locally.

Chick-Fil-A, in my opinion, has nailed that part of of what they do and it’s evidenced by how fast they’ve grown and how they are now ranked as America’s favorite fast food restaurant.

We can get into how they’ve created that culture, hiring & onboarding in a later installment because it’s one definitely worth exploring, but I’ll keep things on track here.

Let’s just say it largely has much ado about that first part I mentioned…culture.

And nobody, NOBODY nails culture better than the military.

There’s not just a code but also an expectation that you follow in line and live the role.

If you analyze it from a psychological standpoint, what interesting to note when you really think about it is how many people are willing to go risk their literal lives for this culture.

And, what’s more, is studies have shown in that moment of staring death in the face, what they actually are willing to die for isn’t some manifesto of patriotism but one of brotherhood.

They are willing to sacrifice their own lives to save a brother or sister.

Now, just imagine if you could implement that kind of comradery into your franchise?

You think they’d be able to serve up chicken sandwiches effectively?

Well. I’m not the only one that feels this way.

Many Franchises have this same logic and have actually actively pursued military vets to buy into their franchises.

Often times reducing their franchise fees substantially to do so.

Now, I’ll be the first to tell you there’s probably some tax breaks and benefits to doing so but let me just also tell you from a business perspective the minor tax breaks and benefits pale in comparison to that of a failed venture.

In other words, they’re not giving handouts to people that can’t conduct the functions of the role.

Buying into a franchise can get really expensive, often times costing between $40,000 to $60,000 just for the fees.

I did some research for you on how to get the funding for these programs and fortunately there are ample options.

One I really like was VetFran.com.

From what I can gather, they really seem to have a finger on the pulse of what’s going on plus several major corporate partners they already do business with, like Marriott, Snap-On, & Sport Clips; which were all among the top franchises I saw that support Veterans.

*7-Eleven was another one I saw on the list that VetFran did not have listed on their site. 

To me, as I see it, that’s your biggest barrier to entry.

Because, despite all of the unique skills and experience that align with that of a franchise owner, that’s a huge financial component and one that many may not be willing to risk.

Plus, there’s not guarantee of success in any business so you’d really want to do your speculative homework on markets, how saturated they are plus potential addressable market.

These are all skills that highly trained and mature entrepreneurs are accustomed to doing but would be very foreign to a veteran.

You’d really want to make sure you had a really good mentor before you ventured off in this direction, in my opinion.

Someone that has been in the franchise business before and has personal ties to you.

Many of these individuals have more money than time now and are actively always seeking a way to put their money to work.

As a knowledge worker, you really couldn’t be in a better spot in that case.

Another option I saw many are taking is a program through the SBA.

It falls under the SBA 7(a) umbrella and it’s called the Patriot Express program.

I’ve had organizations pursue 7(a) loans in the past and what I can tell you is that it’s a VERY long and arduous road.

It’s mounds of paperwork and you really need to know someone that has executed these types of loans for businesses before.

You’ll need an expert and even then the process can take 6-9 months just to push through the red tape.

They are highly favorable terms (for you) and are mostly guaranteed by the Federal Government.

What that means is if your franchise goes kaput you won’t be on the hook for the entire note.

The 7(a) program usually guarantees 75% of the loan amount, which is astonishing when you really think about it.

Definitely a road worth pursuing if you’ve analyzed the financials, have the right team and resources in place and you’ve made a concerted effort to surround yourself with the expertise you’ll need to secure funding.

I would still give the same advice as before to have a contact that has operated and prospered in the franchising space as a mentor.

You’re going to need to put your networking cap on and meet people if you don’t already have a contact in mind.

This is something ALL entrepreneurs have to do so you’re most certainly not alone.

Get Subcontractor Work From the Government

This option would be very appealing to me if I’m a vet getting ready for civilian life.

In essence, it’s largely a continuation of what you’ve been trained to do your entire military career but one that likely ends up putting much bigger money in your pockets.

One of my businesses explored military contracts to furnish the barracks.

These were HIGH PAYING opportunities but it really hurt our chances that we weren’t vets.

Many of these opportunities are specifically reserved for Veterans because it’s kind of similar to a fraternity mindset.

You’re military?

You’re in the Brotherhood.

And that, from my experience, was the mentality.

It was so much that way we ended up taking our pursuits elsewhere as we saw ourselves not getting anywhere fruitful.

The other beautiful thing about these contracts is once you’ve secured one they pretty much keep the same people in place for YEARS.

So, if you landed a gig doing military barracks in North Carolina, for example, it’s likely you’ll be doing military barracks at that location for the long foreseeable future.

That differs mightily to that in the private sector.

In my experience, bids go out every single year, regardless of how well you did, how much money you saved them, etc.

They are still going to do their diligence and ensure they get the absolute best bid.

Your successful efforts won’t be futile but you also couldn’t just rest your laurels on it, either.

From what I’ve seen, you have far more stability and guaranteed, residuals if you can leverage your background to land a few of these gigs.

This, however, is an entirely different animal in terms of navigating that and it’s one I have not completed to give you sound advice on.

I would suggest you utilize tool like LinkedIn to connect with individuals that have done so.

This article from Inc. might help you when you’re done here…

Start an Online Brand!

Okay, I’m clearly biased on this one…

There’s not denying it.

This is what I do and largely how I make a living.

But honestly, I can’t tell you how BIG the opportunity is and how LITTLE it costs you to start it.

Will you need to acquire some technical skills?

Absolutely!

But for like $20/month you could easily host your own website and get an entire online business off the ground.

My podcast started as a passion project.

I was having such high level conversations with people about growing my first company that I decided to just record those convos and pay it forward.

That hosting company for the podcast charged $5/month.

And within two weeks the show was trending Top 5 in the world on iTunes under Business, Health and Education.

This, in turn, exposed me and my message to tens of thousands of people around the world (over 120 countries) and has led to me having some of the most mainstream entrepreneurs on the planet on my show.

Now, you may be thinking “Chris, what do I have that other people would pay for?”

And that’s a very normal thought process…

But, as Russell Brunson (a brilliant marketer) says, we all have superpowers we just don’t recognize it because it’s just intrinsically who we are.

And as a Veteran, I can’t imagine there NOT being SOMETHING you’ve learned along the way through life experience that would be super valuable.

The best example of this is Jocko Willink.

Jocko is a former Navy Seal and launched the Jocko Podcast, which almost instantly became a smash hit.

The entire premise of his brand is to share wisdom from a Navy Seal and to tell stories of what he exeprienced.

MILLIONS of people tune into this.

And so maybe you can start a consultancy business on logistics and build your customer base by having your own YouTube Channel, podcast or blog (like the one you’re reading).

The reason I LOVE this options is because the others deal with a TON of red tape and capital to get off the ground.

This online game isn’t a guarantee, I’ll be the first to tell you that…

But if you really surround yourself with the right resources and knowledge it can be highly lucrative and your set of skills is so unique to civilian life that people are going to really NEED that framework and knowledge that you’ve just grown to take for granted.

Don’t forget to also listen to the pod!

Click Here to Subscribe to the Show: iTunes | Pandora | SpotifyGoogle Play | YouTube

Vaughn Page, Actor and Veteran, drops by the pod to talk about transitioning out of the military + I give you some ideas to become a Veteran Entrepreneur.

Today’s Sponsor: Onnit

Resources:

Mentioned Article About Identity Goals

To learn more about Vaughn, visit IMDb.com

Ideas to Become a Veteran Entrepreneur and How to Make the Transition | Life After Service

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