From Service to Startup: Veterans Making Their Way as Small Business Entrepreneurs

Andrew WilsonAndrew Wilson, Owner
You Move Me – Tulsa & Oklahoma City

Andrew Wilson, while a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, picked up a Forbes magazine during his last tour in Afghanistan, and read about a concept for a junk removal company that sparked interest in an opportunity that could bring a professionalized service to a “dirty” industry. After completing his tour in 2008, he jumped into that opportunity and opened 1-800-GOT-JUNK? locations in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Having found success, Andrew decided to stretch his entrepreneurial muscle and capitalize on the same type of opportunity he saw in the moving industry. He’s now owner and operator of two franchise locations of You Move Me, a local moving company with a mission to make the experience of moving almost fun. Coffee in the morning  - because you've already packed the coffeemaker – a house-warming plant at the end of your move, and boxes that double as forts for kids are ways that they stand out in a customer friendly way.

Andrew describes the transition of going from military to start-up as going from a highly-structured environment with a ton of support to being on an island by yourself. In the military he was provided with everything he needed: medical insurance, retirement plan and even support groups. As a small business entrepreneur, he had to adapt to being responsible for all that himself. Reflecting on the level of effort, that wasn’t unfamiliar, “it’s like you’re going on a deployment. 365 days of work, 20 hour days. The reward will come, but you have to work for it.”

And work for it he did. Andrew and his growing company expect to surpass $1 million in sales in 2014. With that success came the challenge of managing massive growth, something many small business owners struggle with. Andrew overcame this challenge by finding and hiring the right people who can execute on the systems he has in place for the business. He feels strongly that hiring great, reliable people and putting scalable, proven systems in places are essential for breaking through to the next level.

Andrew’s Advice to Other Veterans Considering Starting a Business: “Start Planning Early. Use the time you have in the military to plan your transition into business ownership. One of the most important things you can do is organize and understand your finances to make sure you’re able to not only support and grow the business but also provide for your family. Business ownership is not like the military where you get a regular paycheck. You may not be able to take money from this business for months, maybe even years. Before becoming a business owner, make sure you establish your financial foundation.”

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