Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

How the Military Prepared You for Entrepreneurship

6 Essential Qualities for Military & Business Success

2-½ minutes to read

Over the last decade, the number of veterans in business has declined. Despite many programs supporting veteran entrepreneurship, not much has changed. While not every military person will start a business, I bet you have the six essential qualities of entrepreneurial success…

How the Military Prepared You for Entrepreneurship

The Qualities You Can’t Hire

Out of the 16 skills a business needs to prosper, you’ll have to have six. You can hire people with the other ten. With how many of these do you excel?

Self-Motivated. I’ve never met a successful business owner whose drive came from someone else. Counting on a desire for wealth or fame for motivation sets you up for failure. You need to want business success for its own sake.

Inner Moral Compass. You’ll have lots of temptations when you have your own business. People will give you rationalizations for doing shady or outright unethical things. If you succumb, you’ve put your company on a shaky foundation. A strong sense of right and wrong will protect you.

Curious. No matter how sound your idea and plan, things will go wrong. And you won't have all the knowledge and ideas necessary to succeed. Learning from others allows you to avoid common mistakes and unseen pitfalls.

Tenacious. Giving up can't be an option for a business owner. Failure has to be the stimulus to try again. Tie tenacity to curiosity. Then you’ll have a new option to try when the previous one didn't work.

Team Player. Most small businesses start with the owner as the only employee. But you’ll still need to create a team. Unpaid advisors will fill in gaps in your knowledge. And you’ll have to have an accountant and lawyer. From that perspective, you're a team captain. Evaluate their advice and adapt your plan.

Competitive Spirit. You have to like to win. Many prospective entrepreneurs look for an area without competitors. They think having the market to themselves means an easier road to success. But lack of rivals may also mean your idea isn't viable. Where successful businesses already operate, opportunity is present. Continual, incremental innovation gives you the competitive advantage.

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You have these qualities. But before embracing entrepreneurship, assess how strong they are in your character.

Entrepreneurship: The Essence of a Military Life

Despite a few high-profile successes, wealth is not the primary reward of business ownership. Having your own business is a lifestyle decision. You’ll need to balance advantages like control over your schedule with your potential income.

The typical business owner works 40-49 per week. Eighty-one percent work nights and 89% work weekends. That may be because they can make more money working after hours. Many owners work a regular job while they start their business. Also, they may take kids to school and attend their sporting events during the weekday.

Sixty percent of business owners pay themselves $50,000 or less per year. Thirty percent make nothing. Ten percent make $75,000 or more. Another way of looking at your salary as an entrepreneur is:

Entry level (0-5 years) - $50,000 - $60,000 per year

Mid-career (5-20 years) – $70,000 per year

Experienced (20+ years) - $100,000 per year

Most people think business success hinges on having a great idea. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Your success will come because you have the necessary traits. And it matches your desired lifestyle. Taking the plunge into entrepreneurship requires serious thought. Now you know what to consider…

Have you thought about starting a business?

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10 Books that Will Improve Your Life in 2017

2-1/2 minutes to read

You may know I read at least 50 books a year. With so many goods ones even at one per week it seems to make hardly a dent. My reading focuses on personal development, history & biography, business, and literature. My guilty pleasures are detective and historical fiction. It all unites to help my family and me live the life we’ve charted.

10 Books that Will Improve Your Life in 2017

I keep abreast of current works But I also look back to see what older books and classics I have missed. Here are the best. Why not treat yourself to one for a Christmas or Chanukah gift?

Personal Development:

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz

We live amidst great abundance yet don’t seem to be happier. Is it nostalgic yearning? Barry Schwartz makes the case that too many choices bring about unhappiness as surely as no choice. He also gives you actionable steps to relieve yourself of this burden.

The Miracles in You: Recognizing G-d's Amazing Works in You and Through You by Mark Victor Hansen

If you sit around hoping for a miracle it’ll be a long wait. Mark Victor Hansen (the Chicken Soup Book Series) challenges you to become a miracle maker. He explains how to see them in your life and make them happen.

Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love by David Sturt

In many ways, David Sturt’s book is a companion to Geoff Colvin’s Talent is Overrated. No matter your IQ, talent, educational level, gender, or the circumstances of your birth, you can create a difference the world loves. The ability to innovate comes through the five skills that Sturt reveals. His illustrative stories prove you can execute them.

The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get the Right Job Faster by Steve Dalton

Steve Dalton fills in a crucial piece of the job-hunting puzzle. His book will teach you how to connect with people who can help you get the position you want. I used his system. It works.

The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard

This 34-year-old classic details more than a sound strategy for managing people. Kenneth Blanchard gives you the formula to boost the quality of all your relationships. His simple steps yield clear communication leading to mutually agreeable outcomes.

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History and Biography:

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Orville and Wilbur Wright were not extraordinary mechanics, businessmen, or thinkers. David McCullough shows their success came through sheer tenacity. This story will inspire you to redouble your commitment to your life’s mission.

Bull Halsey by E.B. Potter

Arguably the navy’s most beloved admiral, William Halsey’s life testifies to the power of personal connections. E.B. Potter reveals how relationships with his sailors, peers, and family propelled Halsey’s legendary success.

Business and Entrepreneurship:

The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki

I’m not a Guy Kawasaki groupie. I checked out his work from the audio books section of the library so I wouldn’t run out of things to listen to on a car trip. His step-by-step breakdown of entrepreneurship converts a daunting process into manageable pieces. For veteran entrepreneurs and rookies, this book will accelerate your success.

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz & Joanne Gordon

I am a Howard Schultz fan. I loved his first book, Pour Your Heart Into It. In Onward, he emphasizes the bond between business success and foundational values. You don’t need to like Starbucks coffee to get inspired by this story of its rescue.

Guilty Pleasure:

The Road to Samarcand: An Adventure by Patrick O’Brien

If you saw the movie Master & Commander you got a taste of Patrick O’Brien’s rollicking adventure tales. A group of hardy sailors treks across 1930’s China to exotic Samarcand. This is old-fashioned excitement, breakneck horseback rides and hand to hand combat.

If you want to succeed you must read. If you have a specific challenge that none of these books address let me know. Happy to recommend material to help you.

What books did you read this year that you recommend?

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Should You Act or Rely on Faith?

3 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Ki Sisa – Exodus 30:11-34:35

G-d wants you to have faith in Him. Indeed since He is a loving Father you should be able to rely on His care. But after the debacle in the Garden of Eden, the Almighty decreed that humans would, “with the sweat of your face…eat bread.” So G-d requires that you take action to make a living. It’s confusing. When should you just sit back and trust in the Almighty’s generosity? And when must you take steps toward your goal? The secret is uncovered in Parshas Ki Sisa:

“And G-d spoke to Moses saying, see I have called by name Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah…” (Shemos/Exodus 31:1-2)

Should You Act or Rely on Faith-

This week’s parsha gives the mitzvah of the half-shekel, deals with the last few items for the Altar, discusses the Sabbath, and relates the story of the Golden Calf.

What’s In a Name?

G-d appointed Bezalel to build the Mishkan, the Earthly abode in which He would rest His presence. He could have said, “I want Bezalel to build the Mishkan.” Instead the Almighty points out He called Bezalel “by name.” Why is the name important?

If you recall the story of creation, G-d paraded the animals by Adam, who gave each a name. He didn’t label them randomly. Each name designated the essence of the animal’s character.

Originally Adam was to fulfill human destiny. But when he ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil G-d changed His plan. No longer would the whole of humanity be bound in one soul. Ever since, when a child is born, the Almighty designates a piece of Adam’s soul for him or her. Certain skills and characteristics reside in that bit of Adam’s spiritual DNA. At the same time G-d gives the child a name. The two, soul and name, are inextricably bound.

When G-d appointed Bezalel “by name” to oversee construction of the Mishkan, He ensured the particular abilities and traits His appointee got from Adam would be put to use.

Act or Have Faith?

Bezalel is not unique. G-d gives each human being, including you, specific expertise and qualities as a legacy from Adam. He chooses them for you so you can accomplish the mission He designates for you.

However, the Almighty’s plan for the world cannot be understood by the human mind. So it’s impossible to know for sure what your mission is. You must have faith that the path you choose is the one G-d chose for you.

You must do your best to understand your strengths. Introspection and guidance from those who know you best will help. Having done your best to accurately determine the gifts the Almighty gave you, align your mission with them.

Then take action.

If you made an open, wholehearted self-investigation, your action will bear fruit. The more certainty you bring to your actions, the more likely your sincere faith and actions will be rewarded.

What does it mean if you don’t make progress after trying and trying and trying? Perhaps your self-assessment is off the mark. Try again. Life is an iterative process.

You know for sure that G-d has given you a mission and the ability to see it through. Have faith in him and yourself that you will find your mission. Take action to make it happen.

Do you have clarity about your life’s mission? Please comment below.


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Get the Income You Deserve

3-½ minutes to read

On the ad I run promoting my Facebook Group where veterans talk about how to get a six-figure income, someone posted he wants a seven-figure income. I like his moxie. He has a goal. But what is he willing to do to reach it?

About 30% of families have incomes of $100,000 or more per year. Before you think they’re all doctors and lawyers, consider these two professions together make up less than 2% of workers. People who make six-figure incomes know something you don’t.

How to Get the Income You Deserve

What Your Skills Will Buy You

In today’s competitive marketplace, skills alone won’t get you a six-figure income. In most cases your abilities are worth $40,000 to $60,000 a year. The global marketplace has commoditized many jobs. Technology has replaced expertise, simplifying many other jobs.

There are a few exceptions. Nursing will pay in the high five-figures and in some cases more. But the work is taxing, creating a high burnout rate. As you work up the scale from mid five-figures based on skills alone, most of the time a higher income will come from working longer hours, having higher stress, or both.

So what are the 28% of six-figures earners doing besides practicing medicine and law?

No One Will Hand You the Income You Deserve

No matter what their job, six-figure earners’ work includes marketing and sales. Stick with me for another minute. I’m not saying you have to have a job marketing or selling. But no HR person or client has the time to discover your unique value proposition. You have to develop it and communicate it clearly in order to get the income you deserve. Here are the steps:

  1. Inventory your skills, knowledge, and experience. This is your foundation. Most people stop here so by moving beyond this point you are already separating yourself from the pack.
  2. Establish expertise in an area where your skills can command a premium. If someone tells you how to apply your skills you’re going to be stuck in mid five-figures. But if you couple knowledge of the problems a business or an industry faces with the expertise to solve them you’ve taken a big step toward doubling your income potential.
  3. Create your case for scarcity. As long as there are lot of people conversant with the challenges of a market and the ability to overcome them you’re still a commodity. What makes you unique or a cut above the competition? You must be able to articulate why you’re the best in precise terms. Statements such as, “I have ten year of leadership experience” mean nothing. (I had that by the time I was 18 because I held leadership positions in my Cub Scout Pack and Boy Scout Troop.) What specific, relevant problems did you solve as a leader? Why didn’t anyone else solve them?
  4. Convey your value proposition in language the interviewer understands. What is the jargon of the industry? You can tell someone you know the business. Or you can demonstrate industry knowledge by speaking like an expert. Which makes the stronger case for your uniqueness?

Notice nowhere in this process are you saying things that are untrue or using high pressure or other tactics associated with the sleazy aspects of sales and marketing. You are presenting the case for your value backed up by your expertise.

People want results. Your skills and experience are important only as indicators you can deliver. Package them in a way that distinguishes you from the competition. Then watch six-figures come rolling in.

How can you separate yourself from the flock? Please comment below.

Preventing Others’ Failure Doesn’t Make You a Success

2-½ minutes to read

Last month I finished a master of library and information science degree. One of the notable aspects of the program is the grading scale:

  • 97-100      A
  • 94-96       A-
  • 91-93       B+
  • 88-90       B
  • 85-87       B-
  • 82-84       C+
  • 79-81       C
  • 76-78       C-
  • 73-75       D+
  • 70-72       D
  • 67-69       D-
  • Below 67 F

When I was a high school student and an undergraduate in college, you only had to get a 90 for an A- and a 70 would get you a C-. At first I thought the grading scale indicated a more rigorous evaluation of a student’s work. Later I found it was a response to professors grading too leniently. Whether because they were buying good student ratings or were overwhelmed by compassion, the result was students who didn’t write well and often lacked the resilience to deal with the workload.

Preventing Others’ Failure Doesn’t Make You a Success

Lower Expectations Leads to Less Quality

Academia isn’t the only place where failure essentially has been eradicated. Command Master Chiefs and Career Counselors, among others in the navy, ensure sailors succeed. This policy is justified by the cost to train a sailor, as high as $1 million for one who will work on a nuclear reactor. From leading petty officers (foremen in civilian life) to the officers in command, sailor retention and advancement is a key indicator of performance.

But there’s no free lunch. The price has to be paid somewhere.

Stress on chief petty officers (supervisors in civilian life) burns them out more quickly and reduces their quality of life. Job satisfaction at all levels is lower. Instead of failing and self-selecting to follow another path, sailors advance despite not liking their work. But the real cost is borne when they finally leave the navy.

Preventing Failure as an Indicator of Success

Chief petty officers and commanding officer take pride in saying none of their sailors failed. But like college professors, their success comes at a price someone else pays. Once out in the civilian job market, where being told no, you don’t qualify, and receiving rejection can be a daily experience, sailors are baffled by their lack of success. Studies show that a veteran who does not build up resilience to such treatment in the first six months after leaving the military is far less likely to ever transition successfully.

Reintegration is made more difficult by having spent longer in the military. They are more set in the military mindset. Making the changes necessary to succeed in civilian life can be hopeless.

People have to be allowed to fail. Denying them this opportunity means taking from them the chance to grow. Rather than basing success on preventing failure, you’re better off showing people, whether your children or employees, how to bounce back from defeat.

While the short-term benefits may be high, in the long term preventing others from failing will lead to their downfall. In the end, if your children and colleagues don’t succeed have you?

Where do you see preventing failure is necessary? Please comment below.

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