By Debbie Gregory.
A roadside bomb in Iraq claimed Marine Corps Cpl. Kevin Blanchard’s leg and severely injured the other. While surgeons worked to fix the damage to his body, Kevin spent months deciding on and building a new career path.
Blanchard thought he wanted to open an environmentally friendly roofing company. His heart told him otherwise. He longed to support other Marines and service members as they navigated their new futures, especially as they embarked on the long and sometimes bumpy road of opening a business.
A chance meeting at a public affairs conference led him to the International Franchise Association, where he was eventually hired as a project coordinator, after making a connection at the conference. At the company, Blanchard works on the VetFran project, which helps Veterans who want to venture into a franchise ownership.
The VetFran program can provide discounts to veterans as they enter the franchise business, as well as online franchising courses, a skills and attributes assessment, finance assessment and access to the company’s mentoring network.
Blanchard said the program is designed to build confidence and financial stability in Veterans as they become franchise owners.
“You have to trust in yourself,” he said. “It is not always easy to start a business venture yourself. Have confidence in your abilities and be fearless, because you are taking a shot in the dark.”
Currently, Blanchard is working on a master’s degree in management, with the goal of owning several franchise units in the fitness industry. He also hopes to continue to help other veterans as they work toward their own goals of owning a business.
His advice to Veterans as they start down that path: “stay focused, identify a long-term vision as clearly as possible, and communicate that vision frequently to your team. They should also remember that businesses need to grow, and in order to grow a business you need a clear vision, financial stability and to work ‘on’ their business, and not always ‘in’ their business.,” He continued, “This means constant sales and marketing, improving operational procedures and innovation. Think about it this way: if the goal is increased profit, then everything you do should directly increase profitability, if it doesn’t, then you should re-evaluate.”