The uncertainty of launching your own business can be downright scary. Learn the secrets of a few vetrepreneurs who’ve successfully made the leap.
In a turbulent economy, casting off your lines from a solid pier and setting sail on the USS Entrepreneur is akin to Odysseus leaving Calypso’s island. The initial hurricane that wrecked his raft is but one obstacle to overcome on the way to harmonious self-employment. Believing in yourself enough to risk everything to chase a dream is a leap of faith to say the least, but the rewards are soma for the adventurous heart; an elixir that fills the soul with the gratification of besting the naysayers.
So what should you know before tossing everything off your desk, kissing that pretty receptionist like it’s VE day, and walking off the job never to return unless it’s to flaunt your success in the face of those who scoffed at you? Here are some expectations, pitfalls, and rewards from a couple vetrepreneurs who have successfully made it home to Ithaca.
Before You Leap
Hank Salmans, Founder of Barons Brothers – makers of Devil Dog Brew and Sniper’s Brew coffee, maintains that passion, above all, is essential.
“Be passionate,” Salman’s said.” The number one aspect of an entrepreneur is that you must find something you believe passionately in and never quit until you succeed.”
Starting a small business solely to make money is a sure path to the opposite end of the financial spectrum-bankruptcy. You also have to be passionate about what you believe in, Salman continued.
Salman said that even the best laid plans sometimes require a course correction. “Be flexible, and change the approach if necessary, but never quit,” Salmans said. “The one element that seems to transcend the corporate and entrepreneurial lifestyles is discipline. We all learn it in the military and it never leaves us. A mission statement, vision, and command philosophy serve the same purpose in a small business as they do for a military unit.”
What to Expect
Nick Palmisciano, Founder of Ranger Up, makers of military and patriotic apparel, wants to make sure prospective vetrepreneurs understand that starting and running a business is hard work.
“It's not going to be easier than your corporate job,” Palmisciano said. “Everything will cost more, take longer, and be harder than you expected. It will likely be a while before it pays you what you put into it. You might never see that money back.”
Palmisciano insists that vetrepreneurs also understand personal accountability. “The failures are yours - you can't cop out and blame someone else,” Palmisciano continued. “You can't blame your customers for not liking your product. It's all on you.”
It’s also important to remember that you never go home. Being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 gig. It’s not for those with a shaky foundation at home
“Leaving the stability of the corporate world is like the first time you jump out of an airplane,” Palmisciano said. “You know other people have done it, you know everything should work, but you still are leaping into a place where you know one little screw up will make your life exponentially worse...oh, and you have a family and employees counting on your parachute!”
So why do it?
By this point you’re probably asking why anyone would leave the stability and security of a cushy job to be self-employed? Because, the gratification of success is comparable only to the rapture of leading Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, or Marines. For those of with the “lead from the front” gene, it’s one of the few ways to replicate the feeling leaders had while in uniform.
“Owning a business requires a daily gut-check,” Palmisciano said. “You’ve got to ask yourself every morning if you’re willing to do what it takes.”
If you do have the intestinal fortitude to keep your eye on the prize and ignore the risks, then you might just be an entrepreneur…or Odysseus.