Stu Smith is the Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Association of Veteran-Owned Businesses (FAVOB), a veteran advocacy nonprofit for community good. FAVOB is the only business dedicated to supporting Veteran Owned Businesses, connecting them within the community, and offering support to work with local government agencies.
Smith has an extensive background in the US Army, serving with distinction during two enlistments as an Infantry soldier holding positions of increasing responsibility culminating as the Chief of Instructor Development in the Non-commissioned Officers Academy at Ft. Lewis, WA. He dedicates his time to being the recognized voice for veteran-owned and operated businesses in Florida, the nation’s most veteran-friendly state.
“FAVOB is not a job, it is a reward for a lifetime of hard work,” Smith said. As an entrepreneur, Smith has freedom and self-determination. He believes entrepreneurship is the opportunity for an individual to choose and pursue their passions and to create economic prosperity for themselves and others who work with them. The FAVOB allows veteran and patriotic businesses to thrive doing business in Florida. A challenge Smith faces is organizing and leading a 400+ member organization staffed with volunteers and leading with a board of directors who are strong, successful business owners. Fortunately, he is inspired by the challenge.
Stu Smith offered several pieces of advice for entrepreneurs from his years of experience in leading roles and running his own business. Although he has run three businesses in the past 40 years, the best advice he received on running his own business was not to if you don’t know yourself and who you really are. He says, “A business is more than just you. If you have a spouse, family, partner, or friend. When you go into business, they go with you. Done right; they will be your best advisors and support system. Without them, especially your closest relationship, you will fail.” In order to run a successful business, you need to know yourself first. It is a good idea to prioritize what you are looking to accomplish; take a step back and think about why you want to start this venture.
Business ventures do not always go as expected, but Smith believes the best thing to do is learn from your mistakes. It is not a good feeling when you let down others because in that you are letting yourself down. Instead of internalizing these emotions, take a step back and take the opportunity to learn. Ask yourself important questions about where you went wrong and how you can improve in the future.
A piece of advice Smith offers is, “Always answer the call.” No matter what your tasks are for the day, opportunity awaits. He realizes the importance of giving back to others, and he is thankful for those that have stuck by him, including his wife and family.