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Self-Directed? Explore Options in Entrepreneurship

By Kathleen Brill
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, July 19, 2004; 3:49 PM

Starting your own business is a timely option for people transitioning out of the military, says Glovinia Harris, who conducts Transition Assistance Program workshops at Fort Meade, Md.

"It's a good time because you're already in transition," Harris says.

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She advises people to think about their dreams and transferable skills when weighing the decision to become an entrepreneur. People with international experience may be intrigued by starting an import-export business. Others may find their training ideal for consulting jobs.

Harris says military personnel has the training to work independently requisite for entrepreneurs. "They've got that sense of 'I've got to make it work.'"

Military people are also accustomed to working with less and have a knack for taking initiative, she says. In the Navy, for example, this attitude of self-sufficiency is often the first requirement for success; "a ship is almost like a floating city," she says.

Harris' Transition Assistance workshop helps enroll budding entrepreneurs into training classes provided by the Small Business Association's veterans' program, which offers counseling on business plans.

Retired Air Force Col. Tim Davidson, vice president for Potomac-based TranSecur, Inc., says working as an independent consultant is a good option for risk takers but is not the best choice for those who "like a regular paycheck."

Taking advantage of all of the latest Internet and wireless technologies makes it easier than ever to become a "portable" professional, says Harris, adding that telecommuting is an attractive option for some because "it can get one more car off of the Beltway!"

People who want to work from home, whether it is for a home-based business or as a telecommuter should consider motivations and decide if it is really the best option, says Harris.

"It has to be something stronger than just a desire to be their own boss," she says. "There has to be an intrinsic motivation."

Harris advises people considering entrepreneurship to determine if they have the self-discipline to remain productive on their own. "While they're in the home, can they make that transition?" she asks.

Editor's note: This article by Kathleen Brill, was first acquired by washingtonpost.com on May 15, 2003.

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