Follow These Steps to Be Your Own Boss

Retired Staff Sgt. Fredrick I. Simpson, left, and Jamie Gibson grill outside of their 2 Jerks tent at the Camp Foster Festival in Okinawa, Japan.
Retired Staff Sgt. Fredrick I. Simpson, left, and Jamie Gibson grill outside of their 2 Jerks tent at the Camp Foster Festival in Okinawa, Japan, April 23, 2017. Simpson found his love for sharing Jamaican food through the Marine Corps Community Service Festivals. Gibson is Simpson’s business partner. (Lance Cpl. Tayler P. Schwamb/U.S. Marine photo)

When you are daydreaming about your professional future, what do you see?

Have you ever pictured yourself owning a small business? Maybe you have always loved to cook and imagined yourself one day owning your own restaurant.

Or perhaps your zeal for the outdoors fuels your desire to create an outdoor adventure company. Whatever professional dreams you have, now perhaps -- as you look to transition from your military career to a life in the civilian sector -- is the time to pursue them.

Entrepreneurism can be daunting. After all, during your time in uniform, the expectations were clear. You were likely told regularly what you needed to do in order to succeed. And you had a pretty good model for how to get there.

Creating your own path can be challenging in those respects; it's all up to you. And then there's the paycheck ...

But the payoff (not just financially but also knowing that you are living your dream) can be unparalleled. Today, as you look to your future, consider those professional dreams. If they include owning your own business, start taking the following action.

1. Clearly Define Your Dream.

What is it that you really want to do? What is going to make you jump out of bed in the morning, excited about getting to work? Be as specific as possible.

Clearly defining what the dream is and why you want to pursue it will carry you through the challenging times ahead.

2. Craft a Business Plan.

We weren't joking about the paycheck; profitability is important. Talk to others who have started their own business about your aspirations. Learn as much as you can about what it will take to get your vision off of the ground.

  • How much upfront capital will you need?
  • How long will you have to sustain until you start to realize profit?
  • What are the pitfalls of the business you intend to start?

When you know as much as you can, you can plan most effectively.

3. Consider Your Professional Needs.

You have learned a lot of transferable skills in the military. But likely, as you look to start your own business, you will need some additional education and support. You can attend myriad courses and conferences to broaden your knowledge and prepare you for the challenging road ahead. Start preparing today.

4. Be Courageous.

The path to success begins with a single step. Absent action, you won't attain your dreams. So if you really have the passion and desire to own a small business after leaving the military, take steps now to make that vision a reality.

Entrepreneurism is an often-overlooked but viable professional choice as you make the preparations to leave active duty. If you have ever had the aspiration to be your own boss, consider whether that time is now. The path will be challenging, but the reward is unparalleled.

Lead Star, LLC was founded by Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch, best-selling authors of the business book "Leading from the Front" (McGraw-Hill). They made a commitment to provide practical, relevant and inspiring ways to grow and develop leaders. Lead Star teaches leadership based on Morgan's and Lynch's experiences as Marine Corps officers, private-sector professionals and entrepreneurs.

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