How One Entrepreneurial Veteran Took Her Business to the Skies

If you’ve ever considered being an entrepreneur, you’ve probably asked yourself if you had the personality to do it. When we say the word entrepreneur, a few traits come to mind. Someone who is willing to take risks, who perseveres, who is open to learning new things, and is a leader by nature. Being all of these things is easier said than done, but that’s exactly why it’s worth showcasing people who have managed to pull it off.

As I’ve scaled Agency Growth Secrets, I’ve had to balance these traits and more. Many of these traits can be taught with enough discipline and time. One place that is known and respected for its level of discipline is the U.S. Military. These are all traits that the military not only teaches but requires of its members. Altogether, it cultivates a mindset that makes veterans well-suited to operate a successful business.

A stand-out example of veteran entrepreneurship is Dyan Gibbens, the Founder & CEO of Trumbull Unmanned. From creating her own business to being a veteran of the U.S. Air Force Parachute Team, Gibbens has taken quite a few risks in her time.

So many entrepreneurs are waiting for an arbitrary moment as a sign that it’s a good time start. Whether it’s finishing setting up your website or having a certain amount of subscribers, the perfect time will never come. An entrepreneur has to start and learn as they go. In each of her ventures, Gibbens has had to take a leap and trust that her experience would get her through. As she said in her Entrepreneur interview, “At some point, you have to jump.”

Gibbens founded Trumbull Unmanned in December 2013 to collect, analyze, and visualize critical data for the energy sector. By leveraging her experience in high-risk, high-value operations, the company delivers top-notch solutions for their clients. Using her skills in leadership and other areas, she propelled the business to success. Forbes recognized Trumbull Unmanned as one of their Top 25 Veteran-Founded companies, and Fortune nominated Gibbens in 2015 as one of the women shaping the drone industry.

Of course, these incredible achievements did not happen overnight. As a business leader and especially as an entrepreneur, you need to know how to persevere. Being an entrepreneur isn’t forgiving to those who can’t put in 100%. This is another mindset that the military provides — failure is not an option. Gibbens continuous hard work on engineering throughout all aspects of her career brought her the success she has today.

Over the course of almost ten years, she had completed her bachelors, masters, as well as Ph.D. in a range of engineering specialties. In 2010, Gibbens supported a Business Case Analysis on the Global Hawk UAS. In 2013, she co-founded an International Consortium for Aeronautical Test Sites (ICATS) with Canada, UK, and France. Last year her efforts were recognized when Trumbull was named one of Entrepreneur’s 100 Brilliant Companies.

Even once this level of accomplishment is reached, an important part of entrepreneurship is keeping your humility. You need to be upfront about your shortcomings and be open to new perspectives. In an interview with Entrepreneur, Gibbens says, “My advice to entrepreneurs is to engage mentors early on and ask for help. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; asking for help is a sign of strength.” She goes on to say, “A mentor doesn’t need to be older or more experienced, you can have a mentor that’s younger than you as well.”

In today’s world, change is the only thing that stays the same. It’s not reasonable to expect yourself to stay on top of every new app or industry development. A mentor can bring fresh perspectives and insight you may not have considered before. A good business leader is constantly reevaluating what they know and cross-checking it with a mentor or industry peers. It’s beneficial to your personal development, but also critical to giving your business that extra edge.

Outside of her company, Gibbens applies her leadership skills to other roles in her life. She instructs at a Drone Camp and is a guest lecturer at the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership. In these experiences, Gibbens shows that she has one of the most overlooked aspects of business building — knowledge sharing.

In the early stages of a business, who you surround yourself with is critical to your success. If you want to invest in your team, teach them more than what they need to know. This empowers them to take their tasks and go above and beyond. Teams who know their role and the role of their peers can make more effective decisions, and provide suggestions you might not otherwise have considered.

An unexpected benefit of knowledge sharing is keeping your team motivated. The more they know, the easier it is to see that they’re part of a larger whole. It also shows that you trust in your team to make the most of the information. By showing the forest, the team can start to see beyond the trees. All of this requires a leader who appreciates the large and small, and is able to recognize hard work when they see it.

The characteristics required to succeed in the military can be readily applied to entrepreneurial achievement. Gibbens’s qualities in taking calculated risks, showing unwavering perseverance, keeping her humility, and sharing knowledge will continue to be key to her and any entrepreneur’s success.

About Josh Harris:

Joshua Harris is an entrepreneur and the founder of Agency Growth Secrets, a digital marketing firm with a progressive approach. Agency Growth Secrets utilizes artificial intelligence and data targeting to identify consumer patterns that give their clients the edge they need to make their business a success. Harris believes that U.S. Military Veterans are uniquely qualified to become entrepreneurs. To highlight this, he recently launched a website showcasing the achievements of U.S. Military Veteran entrepreneurs. Harris is part of the Oracles, an elite group of entrepreneurs. He has also been featured in Forbes and Entrepreneur. He lives in Largo, Florida with his wife and two daughters.