Category Archives: Veterans in Business

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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How to Tell if Your Humility Is Self-Destructive

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Tzav – Leviticus 6:1-8:36

People acknowledge the value of humility. In particular, veterans are humble. But too often such modesty impedes their ability to get a good job. When challenged, they say promoting themselves is wrong. Parshas Tzav has a different perspective:

This is the law of the burnt offering: (Vayikra/Leviticus 6:2)

How to Tell if You Humility Is Self-Destructive

This Sabbath’s parsha continues the discussion of the korbanos (the offerings brought on the Altar) and details the anointing of Aaron and his sons as the Kohanim or Priests who will serve in the Temple.

Connecting Sacrifices and Humility

Farther into Leviticus we read an animal that is blind or broken or has a split eyelid or wart cannot be used as a burnt offering. As was made clear back in Genesis in the trouble between Cain and Abel, G-d wants offerings to be of the finest we have.

This holds true even though we no longer bring animal or meal sacrifices.

Today prayer has replaced the sacrificial service. When you pray, G-d wants you to open your heart. This requires humbly recognizing all you have comes from the Almighty. In humility you should acknowledge the many mistakes you’ve made and your gratitude that nonetheless G-d loves you. You offer your love in return.

If you are arrogant G-d will still listen to your prayer, but like a damaged animal, may reject your petition.

Humility verses Self-Promotion

People often equate self-promotion with arrogance. But you’re not conceited simply because you let people know about your skills and strengths. To the contrary, if you can add value to someone’s life you have a responsibility to do so. You’ll have to explain to him why you are the best person to help.

There are times when humility looks like a lack of self-confidence. People don’t trust a meek person to handle their problems.

By not clearly expressing the value you bring to the table, you’re forcing someone to figure it out on his own. He won’t. Instead he’ll hire someone who makes his life easier by showing him he has what it takes. You and your family lose out. The Almighty does not want you to impoverish yourself with such false humility.

If you’re not used to marketing yourself, use these guidelines:

  1. Always tell the truth. Implying you have skills that you don’t is worse than conceit. You’ll be exposed in the end.
  2. Talk about them at appropriate times. People will tell you when they want to know more about you.
  3. Be brief. Long-winded descriptions smell of conceit.

When you follow these three criteria, and thank G-d for the gifts He has given you, you’ll keep your humility in balance.

What prevents you from promoting yourself effectively? 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 a question 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.

On a Mission . . .

Do you have a defining purpose to your life? Does it motivate you to enthusiastically get out of bed each morning looking forward to the day’s activities? When your time on earth is just about done will you feel your life was worthwhile because you pursued this mission?

On a Mission . . .

One of the great aspects of the military is that no matter what our rate or rank we begin our service by dedicating ourselves to a mission: To support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic . . . This statement gives purpose to everything we do. When we experience the searing heat on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea during combat ops or have to de-ice that same flight deck to conduct humanitarian assistance operations in the northern reaches of Japan, we have a reason to endure the harsh weather and the punishingly long hours.

Why Will You Do What You Do?

So too in your life and business, you need to have a mission. Non-profit organizations learned this long ago because they have to motivate their workers, especially volunteers, to commit to a purpose and devote time and money to its fulfillment. The United Way provides a good example.

For-profit businesses can reap tremendous benefits from the same clarity of purpose. The mission statement for my company is: to help veterans secure a share of the American dream they fought to preserve.

Notice that this is not a goal per se. While it is written down, there is no objective to reach or time limit by which it is to be reached. Once you have a mission for your life and/or business, it becomes the litmus test by which you decide whether a particular activity or goal is relevant and purposeful.

A mission statement should be an expression of your most important values because if the two are in conflict you will be working at cross-purposes. Yet, if you are unclear about your morals it may be difficult to create a compelling mission statement.

5 Steps to a Personal, Business, or Family Mission Statement

Here are the steps for writing a mission statement:

1. Make a list of your five most deeply held values

Be careful not to mistake political positions for values. Look at why you have a particular political belief to determine the values the underlie it. If you need some help getting started check out this list.

2. Write down your elevator pitch

This is a brief explanation of what you want to do with your life or what your business is and does.  So called because you can deliver it in the length of an elevator ride. Harvard Business School has a website to help you build one.

3. Use your values to describe WHY your business does what it does

Write a paragraph with each sentence addressing how one of your values relates to your life or business. For example, if you are starting a plumbing company and one of your values is being thrifty, one sentence of your paragraph might be about providing the highest level of service at the lowest price.

4. Edit your paragraph to one or two sentences

Work on combining the essential idea of one sentence with that of another. Sometimes a single word can replace an entire sentence. For example, in my mission statement the value of “taking care of G-d’s children, especially my fellow service members” is expressed with one word: help.

5. Let it sit overnight then edit it

Once you have written your mission statement put it away until the next day then review it. Edit ruthlessly. Say it out loud. If it does not flow well keep working on it. Try using a thesaurus to find variations of words that express your thoughts more accurately. If you get stuck, set it aside overnight again. You may have to do this several times before you develop a compelling mission statement.

When you have completed your mission statement read it periodically, every morning before you begin work, or each evening when you plan your next day’s schedule. Even when you have it memorized, refer to it in written form. Its impact is greater.

Where are you stuck figuring out your personal and business mission?

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Pursue Entrepreneurship Like a Marine – II

A few weeks ago I examined how maneuver warfare applies to entrepreneurship. Hopefully, you see it as a key aspect of your plan to more quickly defeat the negative attitudes and uncertainty holding you back.  An essential aspect of employing this concept is determining where and how to focus your effort.  The Marine Corps calls the practice of concentrating combat power the Main Effort.  Let’s translate this idea to entrepreneurship.

Pursue Entrepreneurship Like a Marine – II

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While I advocate living a balanced, purposeful life based on the Three Pillars of Fitness – Physical | Mental | Spiritual, attempting to focus on all three simultaneously will dilute your ability to reach your goals. On a daily basis, concentrate on a single outcome.

The key points of the Main Effort in Marine Corps doctrine are:

  1. Of all the actions going on within your business, recognize one as the most critical to success at that moment. As you work on your business, each day should focus on the activity crucial to moving it forward, be it marketing, sales, product development, or something else.
  2. The Main Effort involves a physical and moral commitment, although not an irretrievable one. While the Main Effort embodies the action you will take, your commitment must be deeper than task completion.  Dedication at the highest level is required to propel you through the inevitable vicissitudes.
  3. Faced with a decision, ask yourself: How can I best support the Main Effort?  Having made such a profound commitment, reinforce it by making all future choices through its lens.
  4. The practice of concentrating all your power toward the Main Effort necessitates the willingness to accept prudent risk elsewhere.  When focusing on a singular direction by definition you are excluding everything else.  This entails some risk.  Occasionally, your family may feel neglected or your fitness may decline.  End each day by assessing your physical, mental, and spiritual resilience so you will know when the risk is no longer prudent and requires a shift in your Main Effort.
  5. As the situation changes, you may shift the Main Effort. Seek to exploit success rather than reinforce failure.  As demonstrated by maneuver warfare, your ability to identify and quickly exploit opportunity increases your likelihood of success.  When you make the inevitable shifts in Main Effort, do not wait for a crisis, rather look for situations in which you can address the issue requiring the change without weakening your overall thrust toward your goal.  Add an extra day or two onto your business trip dedicated solely to time with your spouse and family.  Change a sit-down meeting to a walking meeting.

Essential to unity of effort by your team, as the leader, strive for a clear expression of the intent and expectations supporting your Main Effort.  Then ensure that everyone involved realizes the burden of understanding it falls on all team members.  You must make your purpose perfectly clear but in a way that does not inhibit initiative.

Applying the short-term focus of your Main Effort will dramatically increase your ability to achieve your goals.

What is the Main Effort in your life right now?

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