This Veterans’ Week we spoke to five Operation Entrepreneur boot camp alumni about their business, what inspires them and how the skills they built in the Canadian Armed Forces help them as entrepreneurs.
When Rene Doucet was preparing to retire from the Canadian Armed Forces after 23 years of service, he decided he wanted to start a second career in entrepreneurship. He had already dabbled in business ownership and had run a renovation company for four years while still serving. However, he knew he couldn’t continue with renovations due to persistent back problems.
He decided to go into inspections, which he describes as an “obvious choice for [him] for a second career.” With comprehensive knowledge of buildings, pivoting from renovations to inspections was an easy choice for Rene, and Kalité Inspection was born.
Rene enjoys the freedom of being able to set his own schedule and being able to decide exactly what he wants to get done in a day — something that he coudn’t do in the military. Despite differences between an average day as a military member and as a business owner, Rene says that a key crossover skill is time management.
“There’s a lot of stuff that’s the same, except now you are the one responsible for making those decisions because it’s your business,” said Rene.
Being a platoon warrant in the military involved a range of responsibilities, from taking care of all the administrative work for the platoon to making sure everyone had their gear ready to go for the mission, according to Rene.
“Time management is essential to finishing tasks. If you don’t meet the timing and don’t have the resources, the mission is going to fail,” said Rene.
Whether someone is stationed in Afghanistan or at a local parade, Rene says that time management is a key element to master in the military. “It doesn’t matter what the task is, the principles remain the same.”
Time management comes into play in Rene’s business most prominently when interacting with clients and managing his workload. “For example, when I’m scheduling clients, I have to be aware that there’s a lot of admin work to do, beyond the inspection,” said Rene.
Time management looks different in a business owner role compared to in the military, according to Rene. “It’s hard to change [timing] because everything is task-orientated and even a small task can end up affecting the main mission,” said Rene. “For business owners, time management can be more flexible, you just have to be aware of the consequences.”
Having a strong sense of responsibility and duty when working with others is another mindset Rene carried over from his military career to his client relations. He says having client-centered approaches to his business is something he was used to in the military when teaching new members at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School at the Saint-Jean Garrison.
He says that being honest when he doesn’t have an answer to a question is something he practised with both his subordinates and clients.
“I’m not going to make up something for clients to make me look like the big shot,” said Rene. “I’m actually going to say, ‘I don’t have this information for you right now, but I’ll research it and I’ll give it to you.’”
Rene’s service to his clients has undoubtedly paid off, even in light of a global pandemic. “I might be hiring some inspectors next year, because the business has grown so much over the last year that I’m now having to refuse clients,” said Rene.
Rene’s vision is to grow his business even more and continue to build Kalité Inspection through disciplined time management and a client-first approach.
In May 2019, Rene attended the Operation Entrepreneur business boot camp at Université Laval. During the week-long intensive training, he received in-class instruction from business school faculty, participated in mentoring forums and networking events, received one-on-one coaching and worked on a plan to take his business to the next level.
For more information on Kalité Inspection, located in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC, visit his website at www.kaliteinspection.ca