Much like marriage, medical school and a stringent diet, the first year of entrepreneurship is often the most challenging. You’re filled with excitement, fear, questions, confidence and drive. And perhaps similar to your first year in the military, you wonder whether you’re cut out for what this entails.

Starting your own business can take many forms: You might purchase a franchise, where many of the systems and processes are documented and ready for you to launch. You may have created a technical solution to a business challenge and have a unique offer to a very specific target market. Maybe you’re starting a business with a physical storefront. Or perhaps you’re launching a new career in professional services, offering consulting, coaching, legal or financial advice. 

Whatever type of business you’re starting, getting the company structured, launched and then doing the work of the business takes up much of the first year.

First-Year Entrepreneurship Tactics

Depending on the nature of your business, you will face several procedural tasks that require preparation and attention, including: 

You may not be an expert in all aspects of finance, legal, marketing and human resources areas needed to get set up, so consider engaging professionals. A good CPA (with specialty in your business area), lawyer, HR professional and branding/marketing person is a smart investment to be sure you’re set up for success.

Retired Staff Sgt. Fredrick I. Simpson, left, and Jamie Gibson grill at the 2 Jerks stand during the Camp Foster Festival in Okinawa, Japan.
Retired Staff Sgt. Fredrick I. Simpson, left, and Jamie Gibson grill at the 2 Jerks stand during the Camp Foster Festival in Okinawa, Japan. (Lance Cpl. Tayler P. Schwamb/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

First-Year Entrepreneurship Feelings

Not to be overlooked are the slew of emotions you’ll experience during the first year. You might feel any or all of the following:

During the first year of my business, everything felt hard and exciting at the same time. While I’d worked in the business world for 20 years, I’d never started a company from the ground up. I leaned on a lot of people for advice, support, guidance and mentorship.

Surround yourself with people who’ll support and encourage you this first year. Your family and friends can give you emotional support because they know and believe in you. Find mentors who’ve built companies, especially in your industry or field. Seek mentors who were also prior military members, as they’ll understand your experiences differently. And lean on people who’re offering their guidance to help you succeed. You don’t need to do this alone.

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