May is Military Appreciation Month. With over 3 million veteran-owned businesses in the US, we started thinking: What is it about the military that makes veterans such great business owners?
Instead of wondering, we went down to Louisiana to hear it right from the source. Lindsey Benoit, Darren Darby, and Kirk Coco shared what they learned from the military to make their businesses successful.
Darren Darby and his wife Renee ownCreole Bagelry in Slidell, LA. Darren is a veteran who served the US for over 20 years. He bought Creole Bakery, wanting to take charge of his own destiny. They are most known for their kettle-boiled, fresh-made bagels.
Lindsey Benoit and her veteran husband, Michael own About Face of New Orleans in Metairie, LA. Like her husband, Lindsey’s father and brother are both veterans. She left her job as an early childhood educator to open her business, a franchise of About Face of Mandeville. They focus on cosmetic and skincare products, bridal makeup, and esthetic services.
Kirk Coco is the owner of NOLA Brewing Company in New Orleans, LA. He served in the Navy for 11 years. In 2008, he founded his brewing company when he saw a need for more jobs in New Orleans and another popular brewery moved out of state. Their brewery is most known for their NOLA Blonde Ale.
What impact has the military had on how you run your business?
Lindsey: When I think of the military, I think of dedication, sacrifice, determination, and loyalty… These are all important when running a business. You have to have the dedication to make your business successful. It’s required not just for me but for the employees who work for me — and most importantly my family. As a small business owner, I know about sacrifice. There are a lot of sacrifices made out of determination to run a successful business.
Does your business offer a military discount? If so, why?
Darren:Yes, to give a little back to those that sacrifice so much. It’s important to me.
Is there a moment or story that resonates with you when you served a military member at your establishment?
Kirk:We have hosted several wetting down ceremonies. These are ceremonies meant to celebrate officer promotions. When you meet the squadrons or crews it really reminds me of how tight a team gets in the military.
What tips do you have for other business owners?
Lindsey:Treat customers like family and love what you do. If you don’t love it, you won’t be successful at it.
Kirk: Make sure your product quality is there and treat your team with respect.