Work can be rewarding, but it can also be challenging and exhausting. It is full-time, rest-of-your life commitment.
I’ve been in the workforce for 30 years, and if there’s one thing I wish I would have known when I left the military in 1986, it would have been that franchising is for entrepreneurs not just experts.
In many of my careers, I’ve always thought — frankly, hoped — that whatever difficulty I was having would simply be solved when my boss left, when the company got bought, or when I got promoted. Soon, I thought, I’d be the boss, or I’d be able to make the c-suite decisions, or I’d be able to decide when I got home and when I arrived at the office. This type of thinking led me down twenty years of exhaustion and frustration.
After leaving the infantry in 1986, I worked as a temp in Los Angeles, as a personal assistant in New York, as a recruiter for Fortune 500 companies, and as a project leader at a New Jersey labeling company. The jobs paid well, and I even found a mentor along the way, but I lacked a sense of mission that I had when I was in the infantry.
Because, as I found, when a veteran leaves the military, they are expected to conform to the norms of civilian life. For us veterans, in the military, everyday meant another mission, another goal to reach. In civilian life, I found that my everyday work didn’t have a mission, and I was goalless in my career.
In 2012, I was ready to have a mission again, and I decided to attend a job seminar to refocus my career. After the seminar, I talked with a VetFran coach who narrowed down the thousands of franchise opportunities available to veterans to three that fit my work experience and personality.
The franchise I eventually chose was FirstLight Home Care. Using my leadership skills I gained in the military, I was matched with the home care industry. At the time, I had no idea how I’d locate capital or begin hiring a staff, but VetFran showed me that veteran specific loans are readily available, and that so many franchises offer veteran discounts, mentorship, and support groups.
10 years later, the only regret I have is not seeking out the franchising industry sooner. Today, my mission is to give back to my community and the clients that I serve. I’m active in the VFW in Glen Rock, my church and other local faith organizations, and as a member of several networking clubs.
But most of all, I hope that I can give back by showing other veterans that franchising is a viable career. As I like to say, even though my uniform is now business casual – a change from camouflage utilities – I still have a mission, and that’s a feeling I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Boyd Lowry is a franchisee of FirstLight Home Care in Glen Rock, NJ