Before founding Hound & Gatos Pet Foods, Will Post served in the U.S. Marine Corps. While entrepreneurs and soldiers are two very different things, Post said his time in uniform taught him valuable lessons about accountability and ethics that translated into success in business. For Post, there are five key skills necessary for that success: marketing, communication, management know-how, leadership and sales ability.
"Some of these skills people have going into it, and others you pick up along the way when you realize something needs to be done better," Post said. "A successful entrepreneur will look at what needs to be done and will find a way to learn how to do it, or hire someone who can. I've learned a lot in my entrepreneurial experience, and I'm happy to keep on learning if it keeps my business growing and moving forward."
Post's venture into the pet-foods industry began with a simple aim: to provide the best for his two cats and two bird dogs. His search for pure, healthy pet food burgeoned into Hound & Gatos Pet Foods, which now offers zero-filler pet foods throughout the U.S. and Canada. Post spoke with Business News Daily about how his career in the military helped shape his entrepreneurial future, and about the humbling lesson that no one business owner can succeed without a driven, knowledgeable team surrounding him or her.
Business News Daily: Tell me a bit about your military career.
Will Post: A career in the U.S. Marine Corps was a privilege and about obtaining the highest ethics. The camaraderie among soldiers was the greatest I've ever experienced. I knew who I could trust, because we had each other's back. The Marine Corps' motto, "Semper Fi (Always Faithful)," is the most important statement. You never leave a soldier behind in all aspects.
BND: What are the similarities between serving in the military and being a business owner?
Post: You must have consistency and discipline. You're the owner, and that raises the bar to achieve higher goals. As a business owner and likewise in the military, you must wake up at the crack of dawn to get things done, otherwise the task will not get completed. In the Marine Corps, you're one team. As a business owner, you're the team leader, so you're solely responsible for your decisions.
BND: What was the biggest challenge transitioning from a career in the military to becoming an entrepreneur?
Post: The biggest obstacle was hiring and training disciplined people. Civilians have a different work ethic versus the military. Structure is critical in both the military and owning my own company. In the military, you have trained professionals to handle certain job tasks, but when launching Hound & Gatos Pet Foods, there were times where I had to wear many hats in order to be successful.
BND: What advice would you give to other veterans who might be seeking to start a business?
Post: Know your competition. Hire professionals where you lack experience, such as a CPA, [public relations] pro or website developer. You can't know it all. If you have a product to sell, you may be the worst salesperson, so hire a real salesman. Sites like Guru can help achieve the goal of finding talented people, and usually they're more affordable. My biggest mistake at launch of Hound & Gatos was not letting go and hiring the professionals. You must own the company name at USPTO [U.S. Patent and Trademark Office], and you must have a lawyer that specializes only in business law.