When Eli Crane went on the hit ABC show "Shark Tank" to pitch his company, Bottle Breacher, he had both a mission and a battle plan, not unlike those he worked against while serving as a Navy SEAL. And his planning paid off: Sharks Mark Cuban and Kevin O'Leary invested.
Crane and his wife started their company with a great idea, a few power tools and a workshop in their one-car garage. Today, Bottle Breacher is one of the fastest-growing veteran-owned and -operated businesses in Arizona and was featured on Forbes' Top 25 Veteran Owned Businesses list.
Bottle Breacher bills itself on its website as making unique, handcrafted "personalized man-gifts, groomsman gifts and corporate/promotional products ... built on our Made in the USA promise driven by the belief that it is our duty to serve those who serve us."
Crane believes, like many veterans, that his service didn't end after he took off his uniform. He continues to give back to the veteran community through regular interviews on veteran-related issues and his veteran movement, Long Live the Veteran Brotherhood.
For many veterans, working a 9-5 job for someone else just won't cut it. Crane shared with Military.com some of his best battle-tested advice for would-be entrepreneurs to help prepare them for the challenges of owning and operating a business.
Crane's Top Transition Tips for Veterans
1. Build a team. It is most likely that, like the rest of us, you have many weaknesses and are not capable of building anything amazing by yourself. Surround yourself with loyal, talented people who share your values and your mission.
2. Don't count on anything from anyone. If you're willing to work as hard in the private sector as you did in the military, you will crush it.
3. If you are intending to become an entrepreneur, I highly recommend the side hustle. That means that you have a full-time gig that pays the bills and you run your startup on nights and weekends.
4. Resilience is the most important thing when exiting the service. Like most of us, you will encounter plenty of adversity and hear countless "No's." If you are diligent and give yourself the freedom to fail while applying the lessons learned, you will eventually become successful.
5. Find a way to continue your service to this country through veterans service organizations or veterans groups. Veterans are hardwired to be servant leaders and be a part of something bigger than ourselves. When veterans are isolated, it's never a good thing. Stay connected to your veteran brothers and sisters, not just for networking and business, but to continue your service and support of each other.
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