After an illustrious 25-year career in the Army, I stepped into the realm of commercial enterprise. I discovered that after honing my skills over the years, there was a lot of potential – once I harnessed and translated them. So, now, at MBO Partners, I’m suddenly in the realm of “putting people to work” as our CEO has said. It’s been exciting to see independents and clients get connected each day in mutually beneficial ways.

Leaving the Military to Be a 1099

We often think that conformity is a defining piece of the military experience. While there’s elements of truth in that, the process of conquering trials and seizing different opportunities also lays the groundwork for a good life outside the military as an independent contractor. Referred to as 1099s in the United States—a tax form documenting income earned beyond traditional employment—the independent workforce has witnessed exponential growth.

Military service imparts unique experiences, instilling an acute understanding of processes and fostering exceptional leadership abilities, making veterans invaluable assets to any team. As an independent contractor, you become a value-added specialist, operating within multiple teams, expertly resolving problems, and cultivating your personal brand. Crucially, your WORK becomes your BRAND as an independent, distinguishing you from mere cogs in the corporate machine vying for promotion. Instead, your focus lies in demonstrating unwavering value to client businesses by leaving an indelible impact on the projects you undertake.

Unleash Your DoD Skillset in a New Way

When you leave the military, it’s all about building a fulfilling career that aligns with what you can do and what you want to do. It takes time to build a versatile portfolio that caters to both your personal needs and those of the market. However, by transforming your experiences into tangible results, you can navigate this changing economy – all while leveraging your diverse perspectives gained through independent contracting engagements with different businesses.

Outside the military, the ability to work effectively with limited resources, scale operations, maintain a global outlook, and navigate constrained budgets is a rare find. Your capacity to operate seamlessly across levels, from granular office details to strategic business initiatives, elevates you to a league of exceptional professionals. Leveraging this talent for strategic thinking and execution swiftly positions you as a vital asset—a true integrator—in any company. When combined with common business certifications gained prior to or during your transition from the military, your existing qualifications make you stand out amongst potential clients.

Unlimited Growth

The best thing about working for yourself is that entrepreneurship can escalate your billable rate far more rapidly than conventional employment often allows. The value of your work or services is continually renegotiated with each contract. While occasionally a lower price may secure a contract, as your reputation as a trusted contributor solidifies, your rates align with the contributions you make, not a job title.

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Jonathan Shaffner recently retired following a 25-year career in the United States Army, where he excelled in a range of aviation, operational, logistics, and administrative roles. Drawing on his extensive experience and expertise, Jonathan transitioned into the civilian workforce, assuming the position of Director of Federal Business Development at MBO Partners. As a leading business services company, MBO Partners is renowned for its global excellence in supporting exceptionally skilled independent consultants and client businesses.