According to recent U.S. Small Business Administration studies, many military veterans have the background and inclination to pursue entrepreneurship. Veterans “are at least 45 percent more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed,” reports the SBA. The organization, motivation and discipline required to succeed in the military are similar to traits business owners need.
Floyd Henson of West Plains, Mo., is a good example. A U.S. Army veteran who served in Korea, Japan and Vietnam, Henson learned many things during his tours of duty that benefited him when he became a business owner.
“My army experience taught me the value of honesty, integrity and discipline,” says Henson. “When I became a business owner I applied the management skills I developed as a helicopter crew chief. Planning and thorough preparation are key.”
His company—Henson Enterprises Inc.—focuses on manufacturing precision-machined industrial parts for such producers as Caterpillar, Regal-Beloit and DRS Technologies.
Much of the work Henson Enterprises performs is through contracts with government agencies. Henson decided to pursue his first government contract a couple years after starting the firm in 2003. To improve his chances of winning his first contract, he turned to an old friend he had met when the two worked for the same employer.
That old friend, Willis Mushrush, is a specialist with University of Missouri Extension’s Business Development Program (BDP). Among his many areas of expertise, Mushrush helps businesses traverse the maze of government contracting rules through the BDP’s Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Center.
“When Floyd wanted to apply for a government contract, I helped him follow government regulations and complete the elaborate paperwork he needed to pursue those contracts,” Mushrush says.