As a Marine Infantryman in Iraq, I never really got to conduct a full-scale assault on an enemy position. I did have my fair share of combat patrols in 2003 Iraq during a period where our patrol bases were some of the most thinly defended positions strewn throughout the city of Al Kut. In some cases, it was just a wall and some razor wire. Yet, I can always remember the feeling when the entry point was opened up, a round was chambered, and it was just a squad of 12 Marines against whatever may come. It was as close as I would ever come to understanding the feeling of my fellow Marines camped outside of Fallujah, Khe Sanh, or perhaps approaching the beaches of Iwo Jima waiting for the ramp to drop. Purpose, passion, and a little fear were palpable as warriors get ready to hit the breach. And for my fellow Veteran Business owners, today I want you to summon those feelings once again because it is time to make 2016 the year we hit the breach once more and we are going to do so with the support of our fellow Veterans.
Veterans Know What to Do
The idea that Veterans are supposed to come home and wallow in the drudgery as they long for a war they will never see again is a myth. Certainly some do, and that might be you right now in this particular season of life. But seasons come and go and this too shall pass. The truth is, veterans know exactly what to do once they hit the breach but at times, they just need a little help making that breach. Within 2 years after returning from Vietnam as a Marine Infantry Officer, future Billionaire Fred Smith founded FedEx in 1971. As it turns out, he had a little inheritance money to help kick start his idea and the rest he raised through venture capital. I am confident one of my fellow Veterans has a revolutionary idea on the tip of their tongue, you just need a little help to get it to the world much as Fred Smith did.
Now, if you are like me then you are not inheriting anything from your parents unless you can inherit debt. Please tell me you can’t inherit debt. But that didn’t stop me from quitting my job of over 13 years and making 2016 the first year I hit the breach as a full-time writer. Many of you who have started your own businesses are in the same boat as we fight for passion and purpose on this side of the uniform. In fact, I can think of 3 men from my squad alone who have made the leap into a Veteran owned business. And because Veterans take care of their own, I’d like to introduce you to the Veteran owned business that can be the breach tool for your own passion and purpose in 2016.
SharkTank Meets eBay
Through one of my writing clients, I met the Veterans behind StreetShares. In fact, their VP of Business Development and Sales David Bann is a 3rd Bn 4th Marines grunt who served in Al Kut around the same time I was there. We could have passed each other on the streets of Iraq and had no idea that out paths would cross in business over a decade later much as they did in war. But it highlights just how small this community really is and the privilege we have to call ourselves Veterans of war. Upon meeting them, I instantly knew this could be the breach tool that so many Veteran owned enterprises have been seeking. This is a platform that allows Veteran business owners to take their established business and pitch your vision directly to funders. Think of it in the terms of the show SharkTank where you walk in, pitch the vision, numbers, as well as you as an owner to those with the funds to make 2016 a future without precedent. But rather than just pitch it to 4 or 5 lenders, your bid goes to a marketplace where they will compete for the opportunity to fund you. Take a look at what Griff from Combat Flip Flops has to say about it.
Combat Flip Flops is an amazing enterprise that as they say, makes cool stuff in dangerous places. It just so happens they are transforming those communities while they are at it. They had the opportunity to expand because another Veteran owned enterprise wanted to invest in their post-war success. It is simply Veterans making a strategic bet that their fellow Veterans know what to do once the breach is made. But to be honest, your business doesn’t have to have anything to do with combat-related products or branding. StreetShares has funded a wide range of ventures from music synthesizers to an insanely awesome indoor remote control car racing track. Honestly, if it were me I’d start a chain of lawn care businesses and title it “GWOT Lawncare: We Make the Green Grass Grow!” I’m not actually doing that so feel free to steal it, but the point is that you find your passion and hit the breach.
StreetShares Helps Veterans Pursue Purpose
Veterans tend to love the scene in the Movie 300 where the Spartans meet up with the Athenians and King Leonidas asks individuals from Athens what is their profession. One responds a carpenter and another a blacksmith. Then he turns to the Spartans and asks them and they all let out a motto chant which I can only assume was the Spartan Ooh Rah. But here is thing my fellow Veterans, it’s ok to move to Athens after the war and make chairs, flip flops, synthesizers, or whatever it is that gives you passion and purpose this side of war. The greatest generation earned their title as much for what they did after the war as to what they did during it. Take a look at my platoon below. I can tell you that there is already one Marine close to being a millionaire out of that group below if he is not already. It’s not me, don’t ask me for any money.
But there are fellow Veterans with money and StreetShares is where they congregate to help their fellow Veterans. They currently work with businesses that have been in business for at least one year or have met a certain benchmark in annual revenue. They have a passion for helping the small Veteran-owned business meet its potential. Not only do they back a portion of each successful loan, but they help you package your pitch to maximize the chance for success. They are here today and they will be here a year from now waiting on you to hit the breach if you have not done so already. It is fascinating to me that the same men who would boldly kick in a door in Fallujah would somehow be timid when it comes to launching a business for which they know they have a passion.
Remember Marine and FedEX CEO Fred Smith? Before the war, he submitted the idea for FedEx as a college paper where he was told it would never work and earned a C on the paper. Suck on that Mr. College Professor. My fellow Veterans, you know what you want to do and many of you have already started down that road. Don’t let discouragement and fear hold you back this side of war any more than it would let you shy away from the door in Iraq. Kick it in and hit the breach. You know that friend who has been talking about his passion since the days in the field, so tag him in this article. You know the Veteran business who could use a little help widening the breach, so tag him and introduce him to StreetShares. I want to thank StreetShares for allowing me to promote this post and if you have any desire to hit the breach, visit them here at StreetShares. A future without precedent awaits us all I’ll leave you with this final quote from Tony Gaskins, “If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.”