A comment was made to me several months ago by a Fortune 500 top-level executive. I was approaching them on the subject of my own company and before I could describe it, this is what he said, “John, I know you’re a veteran, so please don’t take offense…but, if I see another apparel, coffee, or gadget veteran start-up business, I’m going to get sick!” He actually used the S-word. Sheepishly, I chuckled because he was speaking of me as well. But, oh boy, I was miffed inside. I so wanted to react and let him have it. I wanted to defend my veteran brothers, sisters, and myself who had the courage to believe in something bigger than ourselves AND to start a business of our own. As a business owner, I knew how tough it was to get one started, especially if you’re creating a new brand or concept that nobody’s ever seen or heard about before.
So, back to his negative comment. Rather than react inappropriately, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to educate other business leaders about the real state of the veteran-owned business world, which encompasses so much more than “apparel, coffee, or gadget” companies. Undoubtedly, some of these types of veteran-owned businesses have made some big news and many veterans and non-veterans alike know about the brand and financial success that some of these companies have enjoyed. Aren’t we fortunate to live in a Country that makes that possible? Indeed.
The reality is that we can find military veterans operating their businesses in the following sectors: accounting, law, sales, SEO services, social media strategy, motivational speaking, restaurant operations, cookie baking, credit card processing, real estate, painting, home construction and remodeling, service-animal training, life insurance, specialty retailing, automobile & truck repair, medicine, podcasting, marketing, life coaching, skateboard manufacturing, trauma therapy, cigar-making, tax preparation, graphic design, writing, skydiving, book publishing, craft beer brewing & whiskey making, veteran transition services, massage therapy, transportation, business consulting, travel agencies, music and entertainment, branding, career placement, pub-operations, agriculture, yoga instruction, concessions, adventure guiding, mentoring, art, condiment manufacturing, security, drone operations, photography, website development, project management certification companies, and even business directory companies like mine.* I think it’s fair to say that there are veterans who own companies in all sectors of the global business world and…good for them. They’re taken advantage of the opportunities afforded to them by the sacrifices of others, including themselves!
So, to those who may feel sick about what they perceive as a lack of business acumen or originality- please know this, veteran business owners have so much to offer than what you might think. And, it’s because of their sacrifices that all businesses, veteran and non-veteran owned, can thrive in a free corporate world. Finally, to the veteran-owned “apparel, coffee, or gadget” companies who’ve found success in very competitive marketplaces-‘Kudos’ to you, we’re proud of you…thank you for the inspiration!
* I apologize to any veteran business owners whose sectors I may have overlooked.