What the Marine Corps Taught Me About Running My Franchise

It wasn’t long after the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 when I decided to enlist in the military. I wanted to do my part in serving and protecting our great nation and knew the Marine Corps would be the best fit for me. From the beginning they instill three core values into every recruit: Honor, Courage, and Commitment. These values have played a significant role in my every day life and continue to help guide me through business ownership.

After the military, I was able to return to school and graduate with an MBA. The focus, discipline, and dedication that I was taught in the Marine Corp is what got me through school and pushed me to pursue a higher education. Once I graduated, I knew my experiences in the military and my education would be best utilized as a business owner, but I never knew to what extent.

My mom came across the PJ’s Coffee annual franchise license giveaway on Veteran’s Day last year and encouraged me to go through the application process. We both knew franchising was perfect fit since it allows you to go into business for yourself but not by yourself. After going through a rigorous application and interview process, I was successful and became a part of the PJ’s Coffee family. My life experiences and the core values instilled in me from Marine Corp has taught me viable lessons and life skills on how to run my business successfully.

Give Respect

In the Marine Corps in order to get respect, you have to give respect. From leaders and sergeants to recruits and privates. Respect has played a vital role in my military and professional success. Respect and honor go hand-in-hand—both deriving from the way you treat people. This is the bedrock of our character and the foundation of my business. While serving, I was held to the ultimate standard of honor and I exemplified ethical and moral behavior to have respect and concern for others. By possessing this high level of personal integrity, it affected the way I treated others. Now as an entrepreneur, I take this high level of honor and develop personal relationships with people in my community to give and gain respect. With these attributes, your employees and customers will continue to respect you and help your business thrive.

Lead by Example

Throughout my military career, I was lucky to have two mentors, Sgt. Gary Saldivar and Sgt. Terrance Gant, who helped guide me through every obstacle I had to overcome. Sgt. Gary Saldivar and Sgt. Terance Gant were vital resources who had a positive influence on me and helped shape me into the man I am today. They taught me courage is the willingness to always do what is right and to most importantly lead by example. The amazing experiences I had in the Marine Corps has now allowed me to positively guide my employees and those in my community. I lead by example and I strive to be able to instill core values into my employees and provide them with the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of running a business in hopes they are able to become successful entrepreneurs. The Marine Corp taught me it’s important to give back to the community and to always be an example to others.

Be Adaptable

When I was deployed in Iraq and Japan, I learned how important it is to be adaptable. Not everything is going to run according to plan and you need to be able to adapt with the changes and roadblocks you cross. I was committed to every task and order I was given and I know the ultimate goal would lead to success. To reach that goal successfully, I often had to adapt. Adaptability is an essential skill for entrepreneurs when running a business. My commitment is now to my employees, customers, and community. I will always seek constant improvement to reach a higher success and adapt to any changes or obstacles.

Regardless if you’ve been in business for years or if you’re just opening your doors, it’s important to have respect for others, set a positive example for those who see you as a leader, and keep an open mind when things don’t go according to plan. The lessons and skills you’ve learned throughout your life’s experiences will help you to build a successful business.

Jeff Hateley is a Marine Corps veteran who specialized in Tactical Data Networks and was a Primary Marksmanship Instructor while serving. He is now the owner and operator of PJ’s Coffee franchise, a New Orleans-based coffeehouse that demonstrates a welcoming “southern hospitality” style coffee-house experience, the freshest products, and better beans with superior roasting techniques.


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