Hi this is Pete Blum bringing you another episode of the Veteran Connections Podcast where my mission is to help transitioning Veterans and Veterans already out of the military engage with the business community, and to share the knowledge and tools needed to successfully start a business. The Veteran Connections Podcast brings you experience and advice from fellow Veterans who are business owners and have made the transition from the military and into the business community.

There are Veterans transitioning out of the military every day. Some of them have an idea or a passion that they want to turn into a business. Having the right connections can be the one thing that makes the difference between a success or a failure. In this Veteran Connections Podcast I will be talking to Veteran business owners about what steps they are taking, the hurdles they have ran into, what advice they have for you, and what they hope life will look like a few years from now. With these real life interviews and real life results you can gain the expert knowledge from those that have been there. From your military brothers and sisters.

Today’s guest is a great Veteran advocate. I first met him when we both volunteered together at the same nonprofit called Project Transition USA. He also helped develop the Student Veteran Program at the University of South Florida. He is a retired Air Force Colonel who flew combat missions and served a total of 27 years.

He has been awarded the Legion of Merit, Air Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and more than 20 other decorations. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Organization Design and is now the Founder & CEO of Systro Consulting, I would like to welcome Russ Barnes.

You can follow Russ here

Website: www.systro.org

LinikedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rcbarnes

Twitter: @SystroC

Email: russ@systro.org


Colonel (retired) Russ Barnes is Senior Strategist for Systro Consulting, an organization design firm

specializing in business scaling. He has more than 30 years’ experience in organization development

drawn from military service, franchise ownership and consulting with small business owners.

During his military service, Russ flew combat missions and held senior leadership positions at Air Combat

Command Headquarters, The Pentagon, US Strategic Command, US European Command, and US Central

Command…to name a few. He has been awarded the Legion of Merit, Air Medal, Defense Meritorious

Service Medal and more than 20 other decorations.

After retirement from the military, Russ grew his franchise from zero to profitability in less than three

years. His growth was based on a clear vision, building an effective framework, consistently delivering a

quality product and having a relentless focus on customer service.

Russ received his Bachelor’s Degree from Manhattan College (NY), an MBA from Embry-Riddle

Aeronautical University, and his Master of Science degree in Strategic Studies from Air University. He is

currently pursuing a PhD in Organization Design


Transition from the military (easy or hard)

What was it that caused you to start your business?

Tell us about your company’s mission

What were the steps you took to get your business up and running?

Do you feel like your military experience and training helped prepare you to be a Veteran business owner?

What were some of the challenges you faced getting your business started?

What is the key to the success of your business?

Would you say it was your military experience or other things you learned that have been more helpful in making you successful in your business?

Are you going to use your business in some way to either help or hire other Veterans?

What is the one most important thing you have learned since starting your business that you can share with future Veteran business owners?

For transitioning Veterans wanting to start their own business what action items list would you give them?


In this episode with Russ we heard some great advice you can take advantage of on your own vetrepreneur journey!

  • Educate yourself with resources like the SBA, SCORE programs, and courses available
  • Consider trying a franchise first to gain experience
  • Take an assessment of yourself and be able to describe what you want to do
  • Find a mentor
  • Know what it is that you want to sell
  • Build a team and form alliances

The Veteran Connections Podcast provides advice from Veterans for Veterans. A lot of people like you and me that have been through the military have the same thoughts and a lot of the same questions. We may have even had the exact same struggle. I hope you find some answers as you go on this Veteran Connections journey with me where we will learn, explore, and get answers to your questions.

Another great resource for Veterans wanting to start their own business is the Small Business Administration (SBA)


If you need more information or want assistance implementing one of the things you learned about today you can contact me. I can teach you techniques and strategies to help you connect and network in the business community so you can reach your personal or professional goals. Email me at peteblum@solvability.com and let me know how I can help you!

I hope that you have enjoyed this podcast episode and if you have a burning question that you would like to get answered by an experienced Veteran business owner about starting your own business go ahead and email me. I will be sure to answer it in a future episode!

Thank you for listening!  -Pete