SUCCESS OR DEATH IS BASED IN MARYLAND. The blog highlights one veteran's journey through what it means to be an entrepreneur.

Purpose vs. Profit

Corporate America has become a minefield of its own. Navigating between companies that offer great perks and benefits versus those who provide real direction and meaning in the work you might do is a real conundrum for a prospective employee and job seeker. Being an active duty combat veteran and currently serving in the National Guard has afforded me an interesting perspective on the practices of companies, especially as building a company is on the horizon. Should we have to choose, as current and future entrepreneurs, between our bottom line or the real value we will add for our users, employees, and their communities?

For those who serve in any capacity, whether soldier, police officer, airman, or fire fighter, there is a higher purpose than us guiding our jobs from day to day. Typically, depending on where you fall on the pay scale, even with according benefits, it is often significantly lower than other types of work. The distinguishing feature between those who serve (including the medical field) and say, engineers or media or fashion, is our reason for doing so. It is bigger than the dollars we are trying to earn.

The idea behind starting a company initially is to solve a problem and eventually to make money doing it. I’ve seen people on TV shows, friends, family, and other professionals start companies because they think there is this amazing idea they just have to get out there, but also, some people know there are many problems that need to be addressed across various fields of expertise. With the software platform evolving our team is working on, we believe in the purpose. The purpose is what guides everything we do and once profitability occurs and expansion is a likely course of action, we will move in said direction. While doing so, our employees will be at the heart of everything we do because those same employees will benefit from the same platform our users are engaging. Consequently, our users will be able to see the direct result of positive engagement.

A good comparison of who focuses on their employees is Starbucks. I’ve had the privilege of reading some literature CEO Howard Schultz has written, and even knowing what his partners (Starbucks employees are referred to) believe is reassuring on many levels. The partners are the focus of everything. Sure, they sell coffee and ancillary items, but they also provide an experience along with it. Starbucks coffee is social currency. People make associations (of various types) with individuals who drink the coffee or teas they make.  

Yes, Starbucks has some expensive coffee, but they care about their partners and the communities they live in. Other companies are focused on their bottom lines and don’t invest so much in their employees or the communities they live in. Some people can be bought with perks and benefits, but those things without any personal value and purpose leave employees empty and biding their time until retirement.

Society really doesn’t benefit from those companies.

As a company, we want to focus on our employees and from there, with an outstanding team to help us grow, move to help organizations who help those who serve, regardless of affiliation (i.e. military, law enforcement, etc.). Revenue and profits will allow our company to survive so we can fulfill our bigger mission and be a company with a higher purpose. So many times I’ve heard before where it’s been picking principles over your paycheck.

Yes. It is possible to have both.

People do what they need to in order to survive. With the development of this software platform and the company growing from it, we can take comfort in knowing that our team members (employees) are working for something they believe in, and as a result, given the mission they’ve signed up to help accomplish, will be adequately compensated for and will never have to worry about their livelihoods being on the line nor their work being without legitimate meaning.

One thing I’ve learned from being an NCO is that if I’m not willing to sacrifice the rank I wear for my fellow soldiers, I’m not worthy of wearing it. Running a company as a CEO and a founder, there will be times I have to sacrifice in order for my team to continue to prosper. If I’m not willing to do so, I’m not worthy of guiding the vision and running the company we want to build.  

* * * * *

This blog originally appeared on my LinkedIn profile.

Veterans and the ACA. Why it Matters

Credentials, Training, and Software: From Serving to the Next Chapter