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Black Bay Industries - A Small Business Success Story by Conor Aucoin

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I have struggled to find what it is I want out of work and life for most of my life. I have used this curiosity to try many different things, and learn from everything I do. I've never been sure of what I'm meant to do in life, I just know it is meant to be big... and giving. I believe in paying it forward, and the more I win, the more I will give.

I have tried so many things, and failed at them so many times before managing to make something useful of the failures. I like taking risks, and I don't mind failing. You just have to be bold and work hard for what you want.
The closest I have come to satisfaction in the workplace was in the military. Joining the Marines was the best decision I have ever made. I learned how to lead, fight, and win.

After leaving the Marines, I thought an MBA would show me what my path was meant to be. That was not the case. In the MBA program it was hard to relate to my peers. I had no safety net, such as a family business or family wealth. I had to make it happen myself, and that's the only way I'll ever want to do it.  Second, there is a culture in MBA schools of risk averse characters. It was the opposite of the Marines. My civilian peers seem afraid of boldness and action, and it holds them back, whereas I am more aggressive, hungrier for success.

Upon completion of my MBA, I took a position as a buyer for GE in rural Lufkin, TX. Coincidentally, the industry suffered many layoffs at that time in 2014 and I was laid off. My next position was with an insurance company in Metairie, LA, where I tried to open up opportunities for myself, and prove my value and creativity but was restricted by company policy, leadership style and culture. When I realized there was no room to grow or give all that I thought I had to offer, I resigned.

Since then, I have started two businesses that failed miserably but learned much.  Through the SBA website, I learned of the PTAC program, and attended all the events I could. After several meetings with my local PTAC representatives, I knew enough to get started. The program helped me whenever I was stuck, but shortly after, I was registered to do business with the government. This was a big step.
By working with the PTAC and SBA, I began to see business a little differently, and how to read markets a little better. It is by no coincidence that on my third business attempt, I now do business with the largest market in the entire world, the US government, as well reputable blue chip companies such as General Electric. Knowing there is free help should encourage you to at least give the process a chance.
Black Bay Industries, my third attempt, seemed to instantly be a winner. It is a conglomeration of everything I have learned professionally. Establishing the Company is proof that I was learning, not failing. My desire to lead, fight, and win again has manifested itself in this new venture. I once again fight for something bigger than myself. Solving problems for the US Military is the most rewarding thing I can do at this time in my life, not sitting behind a desk making someone else rich.

I have a younger brother on Active Duty in the Coast Guard and rides on rescue helicopters every day. It gives me satisfaction to know the work I'm putting in directly impacts his safety and mission accomplishment. This type of thinking has made a huge difference. I work harder now than I ever have, but I enjoy all of it.
So if you're reading this and anxious about your career path, know you can change it. It is not the work that bothers us, it’s the lack of impact you have when you are working for someone else, I believe. Find what it is you want out of life and work, and reverse engineer the process to get there, or write down everything you want in life, and why you aren't achieving those things. I have done this many times. It takes nothing more than a pen and paper, being brutally honest with yourself, and self-awareness. If you are capable of doing this exercise, you are already making progress. You are not letting life tell you where to go, but you are starting to push back. This is good. Next, try and identify a common theme, or pattern with what you want to do and connect the dots. There's a lot of opportunity out there to be your own boss and live the life you want to live, you just have to be bold. Boldness is the killer of anxiety and worry. Those moments when I've been bold and can feel the sweat build as I’m anticipating the plunge have been my best moments in life. I welcome these opportunities, and so should you.