Today's guest created a company that uses a combination of technology and social networking to obtain financial services for the military and veteran communities, and to help veterans build businesses. He is also a contributor at Forbes, writing on veterans entrepreneurship and military leadership in business. He is listed as one of the "Mighty25 Veterans to Watch in 2017. He is an Air Force Veteran and the Co-Founder & CEO of StreetShares. I would like to welcome Mark L. Rockefelle
Hi this is Pete Blum bringing you another episode of the Veteran Connections Podcast where my mission is to help transitioning Veterans and Veterans already out of the military engage with the business community, and to share the knowledge and tools needed to successfully start a business. The Veteran Connections Podcast brings you experience and advice from fellow Veterans who are business owners and have made the transition from the military and into the business community.
There are Veterans transitioning out of the military every day. Some of them have an idea or a passion that they want to turn into a business. Having the right connections can be the one thing that makes the difference between a success or a failure. In this Veteran Connections Podcast I will be talking to Veteran business owners about what steps they are taking, the hurdles they have ran into, what advice they have for you, and what they hope life will look like a few years from now. With these real life interviews and real life results you can gain the expert knowledge from those that have been there. From your military brothers and sisters.
Today's guest created a company that uses a combination of technology and social networking to obtain financial services for the military and veteran communities, and to help veterans build businesses. He is also a contributor at Forbes, writing on veterans entrepreneurship and military leadership in business. He is listed as one of the "Mighty25 Veterans to Watch in 2017. He is an Air Force Veteran and the Co-Founder & CEO of StreetShares. I would like to welcome Mark L. Rockefeller.
You can follow Mark here
So I know that you are all about Veterans becoming entrepreneurs! I love that and feel the same, and of course that is what this podcast is all about. I feel like finance is one of the biggest hurdles a Veteran faces in wanting to start a business so it is going to be great talking about those issues and things StreetShares can do to help.
So tell me a little bit about what you did in the military.
Transition from the military (easy or hard)
What was it that caused you to start your business? Got the idea while in Africa?
Tell us about your company's mission
Grants for Veterans?
I read your article, Why Is Government Contracting a Good Idea for Veterans?
I like how it ties in nicely with what Jenny and I are doing with Solvability and the annual Florida GovCon Summit. I'm involved with that community and there are so many great people and Veterans in that industry. I am obviously promoting Veterans starting their own business and doing what I can to help them with this podcast and other resources. I do think Veterans going into that industry have an advantage and I like what you said in the article that "As A Veteran, You’re Already in the Market"
What were the steps you took to get your business up and running?
Do you feel like your military experience and training helped prepare you to be a Veteran business owner?
What were some of the challenges you faced getting your business started?
What is the key to the success of your business?
Last year you said StreetShares, has funded more than 300 veteran-owned businesses since launch. Do you know of the top of your head what that number is up to this year?
Would you say it was your military experience or other things you learned that have been more helpful in making you successful in your business?
Are you going to use your business in some way to either help or hire other Veterans?
What is the one most important thing you have learned since starting your business that you can share with future Veteran business owners?
For transitioning Veterans wanting to start their own business what action items list would you give them?
Another great article you wrote for Forbes was "Why The Military Is The Best Entrepreneurship Training Program In America". I wanted to put that out there so people could read and learn even more from you.
In this episode with Mark we heard some great advice you can take advantage of on your own vetrepreneur journey!
Test your idea and see if people like it before going full force into it, some tweaking may be required or you may realize you need to start over with a new idea
Keep your day job until your own business can sustain you
Build a great team, even if they know more than you it will only benefit your company
Use grants first to help get started
Hold off on getting an office space if your industry allows, there is a lot of cost associated with that
Combat Flip Flops- https://www.combatflipflops.com/
The Veteran Connections Podcast provides advice from Veterans for Veterans. A lot of people like you and me that have been through the military have the same thoughts and a lot of the same questions. We may have even had the exact same struggle. I hope you find some answers as you go on this Veteran Connections journey with me where we will learn, explore, and get answers to your questions.
Another great resource for Veterans wanting to start their own business is the Small Business Administration (SBA)
If you need more information or want assistance implementing one of the things you learned about today you can contact me. I can teach you techniques and strategies to help you connect and network in the business community so you can reach your personal or professional goals. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how I can help you!
I hope that you have enjoyed this podcast episode and if you have a burning question that you would like to get answered by an experienced Veteran business owner about starting your own business go ahead and email me. I will be sure to answer it in a future episode!
Thank you for listening! -Pete