In November, we celebrate National Veterans and Military Families Month, highlighting United States military personnel, veterans, and their families. Veteran-owned businesses make up only 6% of small businesses in the United States, but they earn an estimated $947.7 billion annually and employ approximately four million people.
What is it about the military that makes veterans such great business owners? Yelp asked several veteran entrepreneurs in Louisiana what they learned from the military that contributes to their success.
Meet the owners
Darren and Renee Darby own Creole Bagelry in Slidell. Darren, a veteran who served the U.S. for more than 20 years, wanted to take charge of his own destiny and bought the bakery, now known for its kettle-boiled bagels, made fresh from natural, local ingredients.
Lindsey Benoit and her veteran husband, Michael, own About Face of New Orleans. From a military family herself, Lindsey opened a franchise location of About Face of Mandeville, whose name is inspired by the company owner’s veteran husband and father. The cosmetics and skincare boutique focuses on bridal and photoshoot makeup and esthetic services.
Kirk Coco is the owner of NOLA Brewing Company and 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. The brewery is mostly known for its locally brewed 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.motions. 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.
Darren: Pay it forward.
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