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Small Biz Insider: What Entrepreneurs Need with COO of Combined Arms

Published Sep 13, 2019 by Maggie Martin

The Small Biz Insider podcast is part of a digital series from the Greater Houston Partnership, where we highlight the innovative business owners, entrepreneurs and leaders of the greater Houston area making a big impact in the small business community. 

On this edition of Small Biz Insider, host Maggie Martin sits down with Kevin Doffing. He's the Chief Operating Officer of Combined Arms, a nonprofit that connects transitioning veterans with services, community and purpose. Kevin was previously with the Lone Star Veteran's Association, which merged with Combined Arms in 2019.

Here are 5 takeaways from our conversation with Kevin Doffing:

Entrepreneurism is not a quick fix. Doffing said aspiring entrepreneurs need to have a lot of stability in their lives in order to launch and maintain a business. Entrepreneurs, said Doffing, need to prepare for a 5-10 year commitment to build out a successful business. 

There are two key factors that are going to make a difference in the success as an entrepreneur: their high tolerance for risk and how decisive they are. "We try to talk people out of entrepreneurship as much as we try to talk them into how to do it right," said Doffing. He added successful entrepreneurs take more initiative and do their due diligence to reach out and get in touch with people. 

Veterans are typically changing industries, cities and careers while also moving their family all at once. Doffing said for most veterans, they'll need to lean on career services or something similar to land their first job in the civilian workforce. "Your second job should be the result of your professional network, not cold applying to jobs," said Doffing. "If you're doing good work at your job and networking, that social connectivity is going to propel your career upwards."

Veterans transitioning out of the military and into the civilian workforce should start by building out their LinkedIn profile. Doffing recommended veterans should start by searching and connecting to others who've served in the military. That commonality of service ties veterans back together and can spur a quicker connection. 

Successfully navigating a networking event means doing more than a few hellos. Doffing suggested job seekers set a goal to look for three good conversations at each networking event they go to. While doing a quick walkthrough or sticking to just one person the whole time may be easier, it's not effective for job hunting. 

Listen to this and other episodes of the Small Biz Insider podcast here. Learn more about the Partnership's other small business resources.

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