Small Business – Why We Chose the Path Less Traveled
Part 1 Summary: Due to the lack of government employment in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Jason and his wife, Adrianna, began creating their own small business three years before Jason’s retirement to ease their transition. This 4-part article details their personal journey in developing a small business. See the previous full article here.
Euphoria and Frustration
There is nothing like a nice, new, crisp idea to set your mind free and give you energy. That is also true of small business. The idea that you can take a thought and turn it into an existing entity, like a business, is a very intoxicating notion. This is especially true after spending years in the military, where the system and bureaucracy controls and regulates your every move.
When we conceptualized our first business, JHLocals.com, we had no idea what we were doing…but it was exciting! Neither of us had experience starting a business before, so in the wake of zero experience we just started doing everything we could to educate ourselves. We contacted the Small Business Administration and began taking classes in disciplines we thought would be helpful – marketing, accounting, trademarks, patents – you know, the garden variety for those aspiring to be small business owners. While taking the classes, we began developing a network with other small business owners in the Northern Virginia area.
Euphoria would frequently and unexpectedly turn into frustration. We were frustrated with our extremely low business knowledge. Frustrated with our self-assessed slow rate of progress. Yes, at times we would ask ourselves, “What in the hell are we doing again? More importantly, why?” I had a great job at the Pentagon that would carry us through the next three years very easily. I knew the job, the system, and the people. Did I really need to do this?
The simple answer was, ” yes”! Now three years in retrospect, an emphatic, ” yes”!! Maybe even a hells’ yes!!! Unbeknownst at the time, I was putting myself and Adrianna on the path to a very smart military transition that I am now currently undergoing. And mind you, a very off-the-beaten-path one after moving from the DC area to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with no government job available in my hometown.
Despite the unconventional and very atypical approach, we feel very good about our transition…comfortable and very confident in fact. Why, you ask? Because through our frequent bounce back and forth between euphoria and frustration, we learned that this new “life” (for lack of a better term) is just another process to learn. And we learned another absolutely critical lesson. This new small business process and the environment it resides in is called the private sector. It is full of highs and lows that one must get used to for survival and to flourish. We had to gain those skills…but we had the best weapon ever to help us along the way.
Jason C. Anderson is the founder of PreVeteran, a new website dedicated to teaching active duty, Guard, Reserve, and Spouses how to create a small business while still serving. He is also the author of Active-Duty Entrepreneur published in 2013. You can get a free copy of Active-Duty Entrepreneur here.