Are you a veteran looking to start your own business after transitioning from the Military? If so, you will LOVE this blog! My guest for Free Agent Podcast episode 3.18, Misty Cook, shares her personal and professional navigational challenges on the road to unlocking entrepreneurial success. Misty Cook is a retired 20 year United States Marine Corps officer and business owner who has streamlined the process of setting up a business in just 16 weeks. Her COC platform provides a supportive foundation built on civilian networking strategies, social media strategies, executive support, and so much more. In this blog, Misty will outline how she achieved financial freedom, offering the same template to replicate her success. Misty will also share stories of other veterans who have taken the leap into self-employment and freedom. So join us as we explore how veterans can set up their business foundations, network, and secure executive support to unlock success!
About Misty Cook
Misty Cook is a retired Marine Corps veteran who is taking her passion for service and her experience in the Marines to the civilian world. She is the founder of Concierge On Call, a business that helps retired Generals and Flag Officers leverage their extensive experience by offering consultative services. COC offers executive support commensurate to that provided by the Military. Based on dozens of successful interactions, Misty is writing a book that will feature stories from various successful Military veterans and their transition to the civilian world. Misty is a bright and inspiring example for anyone wishing to take the leap into self-employment, business ownership, and freedom. With her unique combination of military experience and entrepreneurial spirit, Misty is helping people take control of their financial future.
Why is it important for veterans to prepare for starting a business after leaving the military?
A successful transition from Military to entrepreneurship should involve the following:
- Financial planning.
- The development of a business plan.
- The exploration of any available resources to support the venture.
For veterans looking to take control of their financial future by starting a business after leaving the Military, it is important to leverage the same tactical and strategic rigor engrained during your years of service.
For the business to thrive, you must have a clear definition and understanding of your business value proposition, mission, and delivery mechanisms. This includes understanding the legalities of setting up a business, market research, and getting the necessary training and certifications. Additionally, veterans should research funding options through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and other organizations that provide assistance and resources for veterans who want to become business owners. Creating a financial plan that accounts for not only start-up costs and initial operation, but also future investments during strong growth periods is also vital. Through careful planning and preparation, veterans can create a financially rewarding, enduring platform.
Here are the steps you need to follow:
- Set up the foundations of the business.
- Develop a strategy for networking and social media.
- Obtain executive support.
1. Set up the foundations of the business.
Setting up the foundations of a business requires careful consideration and planning. First and foremost, it is crucial to establish a business plan. This should include a description of your products or services, an analysis of the competition, and a financial plan. A business plan should also have a marketing strategy outlining how to reach your target market. Plan your revenue streams, set your pricing, and outline in detail your expected expenses. No one starts a business to lose money. Make sure The Plan leads to profitability and sustaining a lifestyle. All these steps are essential for setting up the foundations of a business.
Next, establish your business structure. This includes deciding whether you want to start a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company (LLC), or a corporation. Research the differences and talk with an accountant to select the best structure for your business. After establishing your business structure, secure any appropriate licenses and permits. Depending on your business type, you may need to register with local and state government agencies.
Your accountant will help to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for tax reporting. Even if you are a Solopreneur with no employees, you are still required to report your income.
Once you have established the foundations of the business, you will need a program like QuickBooks to manage your finances. This includes setting up a chart of accounts and developing a plan to keep accurate financial records. Many entrepreneurs forget to establish a system to invoice customers and track payments. No joke, some business owners feel guilty tracking down clients to collect outstanding payments. Systematically scheduling your billing with Net Terms alleviates delinquencies. All these steps are important for managing the finances of your business.
2. Develop a strategy for networking and social media.
Many exiting Military do not understand the benefits of building your business through networking. The first question a target client will ask is about your branding, website, and referrals. Engaging through social media platforms is essential to create a professional presence in the market. The goal is to boost your brand’s visibility, build relationships with potential customers, and generate leads that convert into sales. When developing a strategy for networking and social media, there are several steps to consider.
First, determine which platforms are best suited for your brand. What is your fundamental message that people need to hear? What key experiences will you leverage that set you apart from anyone else? Different platforms have different customer demographics, so it’s vital to understand which platforms are speaking to your target audience. Also, consider the type of content you plan to post and the impact you want to achieve. Know the difference between LinkedIn, InStagram, Facebook and the others. Even better is to hire a social media professional to create a content plan that outlines when, to which platform, and how often you’ll post insightful and valuable content.
Second, utilize a social media professional to build your online presence. This is YOUR brand, your story and your Why, so invest in creating the best image of yourself. This involves creating accounts on your chosen platforms and building an audience. You should also join relevant groups and communities and engage with other members. Posting quality content regularly is critical to growing your reach.
Third, focus on building relationships in business sectors where your target client is waiting. Connect with key influencers, engage with customers and prospects, and collaborate with other businesses. Finally, track your progress and analyze the results. This will help you identify what’s working and what’s not and adjust accordingly. Following these steps will help you create an effective networking strategy.
Fourth, it’s essential to stay consistently present and visible with your strategies. Consistency is vital to engaging with your followers and developing trusted relationships and referrals. Additionally, when you post content that generates a response, be prepared to reply to comments and questions, and always answer inquiries promptly. Finally, ask your content creator/branding professional whether it makes sense to invest in social media advertising. Advertising on social media can be an effective way to reach more people and increase your brand’s visibility. Before investing in social media advertising, it’s essential to understand the various options available and determine which ones are best suited for your brand. With a well-thought-out strategy and an effective advertising plan, your brand can benefit significantly from networking and social media.
3. Invest in executive support.
Investing in executive support will help you quickly establish your business. Hire the right executive assistant to do the things that are a waste of your valuable time and expertise. This includes managing your calendar, travel, events, coordination, and negotiations. You can leverage this support while you are still in the Military, to being the process of creating a strategic perspective, identifying your audience and who you want to hear your message, and understanding your sense of purpose as soon as you retire.
Misty Cook has dedicated herself to being “somebody’s somebody.” She has taken the COC out of the Marines and established her Concierge On Call consulting company to provide clients amazingly detailed administrative support. To support her clients, Misty has built a portfolio of resources that includes vetted CPAs, lawyers, industry consultants, and business experts, as well as addressing predictable emotional and ego support. Dissecting and eliminating Imposter Syndrome, Misty enables her clients to define their unique experiences that translate into a strong value proposition, and encourages those clients to bet on themselves. These are examples of how Misty provides intangible personal support. She builds trust by sharing what she wishes she had known when she started her business, and how long it took build that expertise and strong reputation for success. Misty uses all of her own pain points to provide the best executive support possible.
In addition to providing executive support, Misty assists retired generals and flag officers with transitioning into the civilian workforce. This includes understanding the differences between Military and civilian business cultures, helping them develop skills such as networking and communication, and introducing them to the resources and contacts they need to adjust and adapt. She understands how difficult and overwhelming the transition can be, and she is committed to illuminating the path forward. Misty’s goal is to enable every retired officer she works with to continue to serve their country and their new community, and positively impact the world.
Through Misty Cook’s 16-week Streamlined Process, veterans can take control of their financial future and create a successful business venture. So take that first step and believe in yourself; as you know from your dedication and hard work in the Military, anything is possible! With the proper preparation, resources, and support, veterans can achieve success in the civilian world.
I’d love to hear how you apply The 16-Week Streamlined Process to get financial freedom. Leave me a comment on how it went for you or drop any questions you want me to answer! To learn more about Misty’s 16-week Streamline Process, connect with her.