I am a business owner as well as a committed member of the Mississippi Army National Guard. It’s not easy, but it is possible to balance military commitment and business. There are many challenges, and many rewards.
I joined the MSARNG in 2004, and deployed with some of the most awesome bastards to one of nastiest places in an already nasty place. We were under the II Marine Expeditionary Force as a brigade south of Baghdad.
While deployed, I learned a valuable tool that I was missing in my business: humility. I was surrounded by great men, and I realized how much harder I needed to work to be my best.
When I got home, the business that I had built over the previous 5 years was gone. I had no income, no job, and no business. It was a challenge, but I made phone calls, joined groups, and networked until I rebuilt a customer base.
Before long, they informed me that we would be deploying again in the next couple of years. Losing my business again was not an option. Chris Chamberlin owned Corporate Computer Support at the time, and our past working relationship was enough for me to comfortably ask for his help while I deployed. He obliged, and when I returned, my business was intact and thriving. Chris, you are the man.
3 Tips to Balance Military and Business:
These have been key for me to successfully run a business and serve my country at the same time.
1. Stay flexible
You have to be able to work around the obstacles. Any number of outside forces can change your schedule at a moment’s notice. I set those expectations with our customers, and make sure that there is always a backup option or additional help in case something happens. Hiring quality people and partnering with quality, reliable people and companies is crucial.
I keep my people and my military boss informed as to possible conflicts. Most of the time, the Guard comes first. On the rare occasion that my full time career interrupts, most of the time my military bosses understand and allow me to make my drill up later.
Communication with clients is also important, especially when you could be called at any time to serve your country. In our business, we have a shared calendar where everybody at Peak can see my drill dates and other commitments. This helps us prepare, and better communicate with our clients.
3. Use what you’ve learned
I use the lessons the military has taught me about planning and leadership every day. The skills I have acquired from being in the Information Technology business benefit my unit. I have and I will gladly repair a fellow Guardsman’s laptop, or help other soldiers with technical issues with their computers. Many of the skills that you learn can be adapted to work in both business and the military.
I am reminded daily of what a great privilege it is to serve with so many exceptional people. They sacrifice their time and energy, and give it readily to ensure that this state and country will be ready if they are needed. I am in the company of great men and women. These selfless individuals will never know how much they truly inspire me to excel in my business. If I could, I would hire them all.
As it stands now, there are two of us at Peak who are also in the Guard. Who knows what opportunities God will bring along?
Happy Veterans Day, my brothers and sisters! Keep your head on a swivel. I got your 6.