Applying Military ‘Lessons Learned’ to my Franchise Business
Military service gives you a unique skillset. It gives you drive, tenacity and confidence — all the attributes you need to be a great business owner, particularly in franchising.
Twenty-nine years in the U.S. Marine Corps have given me a strong foundation to succeed in my own business, and I’m putting my skills to work as a FirstLight Home Care franchise owner in Pensacola, Florida.
Owning a home care business has been a wonderful, rewarding experience, allowing my wife and myself to serve seniors, many of them veterans, in our community. But it’s also been a lot of work with a lot of challenges along the way.
In the Marine Corps, we place a lot of importance on lessons learned. After every exercise, combat deployment or engagement, we record what we learned — all the things that went right or wrong — and share them across the entire organization. You can learn from the successes and failures of others. I’ve added this principle to my business with great success, and I’ve been sharing it with other franchise owners.
Here are a few of my own lessons learned as a business owner, and I hope other veterans looking for franchise opportunities will take them to heart.
Ask Tough Questions
For my fellow veterans that are looking to open a business, whether it be cutting hair or healthcare, I recommend that you interview multiple franchises and ask the tough questions. Ask questions about what happens after you buy the franchise. Ask about how they will help and support you along the way.
Match Your Values
Most veterans I know have strong values and beliefs. If you’re going to be successful in a franchise, you need to believe in your work and find a good match in the franchise you choose. I interviewed several home care franchises that were not a good match for my values before I found FirstLight. My wife and I are strong in our Christian faith, and FirstLight also has Christian values. They view life with sanctity and try to help our elders and the senior community spend their days with dignity and respect. That is a message I could truly get behind, and it makes my work more rewarding every day.
Use Your Military Skills
You can put the skills you learned in the military to work in your franchise business. Here are some that have helped me:
- — Prior to being a leader in the military, I would never have thought of being a franchise business owner. As a leader in the U.S. Marine Corps, I have been in enough situations to where I know I can do this.
- — I’m a combat veteran. Sometimes when I see things that stress people out in this industry, I laugh a little on the inside because it’s not that stressful in comparison. We can figure this out.
- Work Ethic — The military gave me a no-fail attitude, and that led to a strong work ethic. I know that no matter what, I’ve got to succeed. I’ve met some business owners who failed simply because they didn’t put enough work in. If I don’t have a caregiver to cover a shift, I become that caregiver and cover the shift.
- — One thing that the military does well for senior leadership is that we learn where to find the answers. I may not know the answer myself, but I know how to find the person who does know it. We can meet people, network, and bring everyone together to help solve a common problem.
A military background gives you these tools and more that can help you succeed in the business world. Put them to good use.
I am scheduled to retire from the military soon, and I’ll join my wife full-time in our business. I’m grateful for the time I’ve given to our country’s service, in part because it has taught me valuable skills that have set me on a good course for the next phase of my life. I encourage other veterans to consider franchising as they enter civilian life. The lessons you learned in the service will give you the foundation for success.
U.S. Marine Maj. Lance Henderson is owner of FirstLight Home Care Emerald Coast, Florida. FirstLight Home Care is a top-rated non-medical home care provider with a network of offices that provides more than 107,000 hours per week in care for more than 5,300 clients in over 34 states.