Those skills were evident as each earned college degrees during their service -- Burns, an
They had trouble, however, translating that experience to lenders.
"It was kind of a blow having 13 years experience as an officer, a strong business plan and a partner with loads of restaurant experience," says Wynkoop, 31, owner of Gyrene Burger in
Burns, 33, owner of fitness concept
"Just because it's a federal-backed loan, doesn't mean that all banks are willing to make them," Burns says. "Find a bank that has experience and have done those loans in the past and are willing to work with you."
Both men had built savings through their military careers with the idea of opening their own ventures some day.
Burns and his wife, Amber, now a physician's assistant at
They looked at numerous concepts with the help of a consultant they connected with on the SBA website, before deciding on Title Boxing. Their research included talking to other owners, visiting a club and taking a class.
"I used to fight competitively, so I knew something about boxing and I knew I was in the best shape of my life when I was training," he says.
The couple chose
Burns says, knowing that capital would be tight, he searched for almost a year to find the location he wanted at the right price before opening the gym on
Despite all his research, Burns wishes he still would have done more -- a third-party fee tied to the franchise was somewhat of a surprise -- although he's enjoying operating his own business.
"I knew I was going into a lot of hours with little pay, but I will say this -- it is the most fun I have ever had," he says. "I will take everything I learned from this business into my next business."
Wynkoop's story is similar, although he never was able to obtain a traditional bank loan. Instead, his business is financed by
Wynkoop was at
"I love my wife deeply, and I decided there has to be another way for us to be in the same place," he recalls.
He answered an advertisement from Monaghan, a former Marine himself, that had been placed in a base publication. The ad said the former restaurant magnate and philanthropist was looking for a Marine officer with whom to partner in a new business venture.
"Tom and I hit it off from the first time we met," he recalls. "He gave me a copy of his autobiography, and I read it the next week and really connected with him and his life story."
"If I can get a veteran as a delivery driver, teach him to be a store manager, have them become a franchisee in five or six years -- to provide that opportunity to people is my motivation, I can't wait until we finally get to do it."
Both men have connected with other veteran-owned businesses through the
And they are already looking to give back by supporting TVBA's events.
"Just networking through them has been huge," Burns says.
(c)2014 the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Visit the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.) at www.knoxnews.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services