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Four Tips From Veterans Who Own Businesses

by on November 7, 2012

In honor of Veterans Day, NerdWallet sought out advice from veterans who have opened successful businesses since returning from service.  After dedicating years to defend our country, these veterans were able to take skills and expertise they had learned in the military and apply them to business.

These successful businesspeople share their stories, and they encourage veterans to use everything available to them, including skills and expertise from their service, the perks of government registration as a veteran-owned business, mentorship through SCORE and contacts with other veterans.

Read on for their tips!

1. Utilize skills you developed in the military

Jerry Pradier, a former B-52 Air Force pilot, used the management experience he received in the military to start his own business coaching company, the Progressive Business Development Network.  Jerry gained extensive management experience while serving in the Air Force, and he started a company that highlighting and utilized his expansive skill set.

“As a Business Optimization Expert, I provide the service of business coaching in all aspects of business management and leadership.

While in the Air Force, I was a B-52 pilot but later managed many educational and personnel organizations, supervising up to 395 people at one point. This management experience, plus the experience of starting my own successful businesses while in the service, helped me understand most aspects of business development and management. I also have a master’s degree in business management and taught personnel management for the University of Maryland while on active duty.”

2. Register as a veteran-owned business

Penny Miller served as a personnel officer in the US Air Force for 21 years before starting her human resources consulting business, Venture HRO.  Through working extensively with the Air Force, she was able to hone her skills and expertise in human resources.  As her advice to other veterans looking to start a business, she recommends registering as a veteran-owned business.

“I own an HR consulting/leadership development company.  About half of my practice is compliance–working mostly with small companies with small or nonexistent HR departments, although I do work with larger companies that have an HR department and possibly even a corporate level HR to provide services they may not have the time or expertise to do.

The other half is focused on helping managers (especially first-line supervisors) be better leaders in their organizations–I am a firm believer that investment in a company’s supervisors is the single best investment companies can make in developing high performance cultures.

I do a little bit of strategic HR–another place I feel can make a huge difference, but not where a lot of smaller companies have made the leap yet.

I am a certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOB). I filed my incorporation in Nov 2007 and officially opened in Jan 2008. I provide HR consulting and leadership development training/coaching.”

3. Use resources for veterans

Dr. Dolly Garnecki, an Iraq war veteran, returned from her five years of duty and immediately enrolled in chiropractic college and earned her doctorate.  Now a chiropractor with her own business, Spinal Health and Wellness, she advocates using resources for veterans, including loans, and partnering with mentors through SCORE.

“In December 2008, I opened Spinal Health & Wellness LLC, a healthcare practice that focuses on providing natural and physical rehabilitation-focused care for several spinal conditions, primarily scoliosis. We draw patients from the entire east coast due to our non-invasive and specialty approach to scoliosis treatment to help patients avoid surgery and rigid bracing. Other than chiropractic care, therapeutic exercises, and neurological re-education, we also provide nutritional counseling, and massage therapy.

Before launching our business, I was able to seek out a few resources for veterans, primarily a business loan for military veterans through the Small Business Association. Charlottesville’s local chapter of the SBA was very helpful. Family and the SBA also pointed me to SCORE for free business mentoring. I’ve been working with a SCORE mentor since February 2008, and in 2011, my business was awarded the SCORE Foundation Outstanding Veteran-Owned Small Business Award.”

4. Hire veterans

Travis Davis spent 19.6 years in the U.S. Army as a Reconnaissance Specialist, serving from 1976 to 1995.  He began developing mobile and cloud-based apps, opening Point N Time Software in November of 2011.  His current app, Meeting Mapper, is a sales meeting analysis tool, and he is working on tools to aid child development as well.

“Our first app was Meeting Mapper for the iPad, a sales meeting analysis tool that visually maps decision makers with their stance and role. We then developed Meeting Mapper for the iPhone. After Meeting Mapper, we decided to create an idea I had in 1986 for a child development game called SHAPES+.

We also released Meeting Mapper Fierce, a version of our iPad app running on the SalesForce.com platform, and we will soon be releasing Meeting Mapper Cloud for non-SalesForce.com customers, this is an OEM version of SalesForce.com that we can sell to drive additional revenue. In Oct 2012, we were selected by BroadSoft to jointly develop a version of Meeting Mapper Fierce and Cloud to support their telephone products.

Once we start to hire, I will reach out to veterans. The capabilities and work ethics vets bring is excellent and indicative of how I want to run my business. Plus, I know they will be straight shooters.”

Check out our profiles of five innovative veteran-owned businesses!

Veterans tribute image from Shutterstock

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