Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- As the war in Afghanistan winds down, more and more veterans are coming home and looking to start the next phase of their lives. Onondaga Community College’s Small Business Development Center is trying to help. The center is hosting “Operation Start Up and Grow” on March 21 – a business conference for veterans.
Veteran Tony Baird -- a former satellite communications operator in the Army -- celebrates his eighth year in business on Thursday. One of his first contracts with the military was handling technology that jammed radio signals intended to set off roadside bombs.
"There's a lot of things that go into being successful and one of them is being around the right people,” said Baird, CEO/President Tony Baird Electronics.
OCC’s Small Business Development Center answers questions and guides veterans through the process of starting a business.
"It takes time to plan, to develop that business plan, get strategies in place, get your support team in place and make sure you have enough funding to make the business successful,” explained Joan Powers with OCC’s Small Business Development Center.
Baird says starting a business is only part of the process. Keeping that business up and running, especially through the good and the bad times, takes learning from a good group of mentors.
“You've got to have strategic relationships, you've got to have accounting, you've got to have bankers you can work with and that trust you and work with you,” Baird said.
“Managing employees, as far as keeping the books, and understanding the numbers, as far as marketing their business,” Powers said.
Baird knew pretty quickly that he was going to have to diversify his business, so he got into some IT work and that's landed him jobs like outfitting the Funny Bone Comedy Club at Destiny USA.
“The big players are starting to look at us seriously. They're starting to say, you're not just a certification you're actually doing some things,” Baird continued.
Baird says with the right vision, support and hard work, other vets can tell the same story.
Registration for “Operation Start Up and Grow” is now open, but closes Thursday, March 14. For more information on the program, CLICK HERE