From Service to Startup: Local Veteran Operates Successful Business

In the United States, nearly one in 10 businesses – or approximately 2.5 million—are Veteran-owned.  These businesses contribute approximately 1.4 trillion dollars to the nation’s total sales/receipts per year, making them a critical pillar of the American economy.  Here in Maine, according to most recent data, almost 12% of businesses are Veteran owned.  

Through the 4th National Small Business Week, the US Small Administration (SBA) hopes to raise awareness of Veteran business ownership and encourage communities to support businesses owned by individuals in the Veteran and military communities. This year’s theme is Moments that Matter in Veteran Ownership. 

Recently members of the SBA Maine district office had the opportunity to visit Josh Noyes, an Air Force Veteran, who earlier this year opened an authentic, traditional barbershop in downtown Calais. Thumos Barbershop is a classical neighborhood family barbershop yet blends in cool and current vibes. 

After Josh completed his service in the Air Force Security Forces and worked for a time at Maine Forest Services, this Topsfield native decided to pursue his dream of one day running his own barbershop back near his roots in Downeast Maine.  That journey led him to New Hampshire where he accessed his VA educational benefits for a year-long barber training. 

Back home, starting up proved challenging, but with support of family and friends and through his own hard work, he was able to bootstrap the business startup and open in a custom designed location at 415 Main Street in Calais.  One of his “Moments that Mattered” was connecting with Ruth Cash-Smith, certified business advisor for the CEI Women’s Business Center for Rural Maine.  With Ruth’s expert guidance and knowledge, Josh was able to better navigate the startup pitfalls and open his business with a solid plan for success. 

To learn more about Thumos Barbershop, visit facebook.com/thumosbarbershop/.

In celebration of National Veteran Small Business Week, as well as throughout the year, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) continues efforts to increase awareness of free resources available to assist Veteran small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. The SBA’s core programs encourage Veterans to gain greater access to capital, business advising and government contracting opportunities.  Programs and services are delivered locally throughout Maine by an extensive network of SBA lenders, SBA resource providers and state and federal partners.

After visiting with Josh and touring Thumos Barbershop, Amy Bassett, SBA Maine District Director, offers these key takeaways that can benefit all veterans: Take advantage of all available resources – Get help early with resources, especially those offered through the SBA. Create a business plan as soon as possible. Even if it’s preliminary, a one-page plan can help you sketch out ideas and map out the road as you move towards your goal. Use your military experience to guide the way – members of the military are taught to be mission-focused and disciplined, which can be key contributors to successful small business ownership.  Use these skills to carry your progress to success.

If you’re a Veteran, service member (including National Guard and Reserve) or a military spouse interested in starting, purchasing or growing a business, find more information on SBA services and programs at www.sba.gov/ME or contact Jim Pineau, Senior Area Manager at SBA’s Bangor office at 207-945-2021.