Vietnam War veteran leans on her military skills to run a small business

Marty Commons spent three years as a Lieutenant in the US Navy Nurse Corps.

PEACHTREE CORNERS, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A metro Atlanta Vietnam War veteran is using the skills she learned in the military to thrive at being a small business owner. She’s offering other aspiring business owners some advice and encouragement as May marks Military Appreciation Month.

Marty Commons is her own boss, running two MY SALON Suite locations with her husband. She started her small business in Lawrenceville, then opened a second location in Peachtree Corners.

Commons spent three years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps.

“I was a civilian nurse working at a hospital. It was the end of the Vietnam War and I enlisted,” said Marty Commons. “The job of being a nurse in a civilian hospital, and a military hospital is the same medical job, but it offered me an opportunity.”

Commons says she used the benefits she earned in the military to further her education. Post-military life, Commons was a communicable disease epidemiologist and then worked in global drug development for a major pharmaceutical company.

When most people would be eyeing retirement, Commons and her husband started their own business. She says it can be scary to be your own boss, but it’s so worth it.

“Not to be afraid. It is stepping off the cliff, whether you’re starting your own business in my suite, or whether you have a dream of doing something else, don’t be afraid. There are other people who have done it before you and they’re welcome and helpful. Everybody helps each other and that makes us all in a better world,” said Commons.

There were challenges along the way. The most notable is COVID. She had to close her salons for about a month at the start of the pandemic.

“These beauty professionals could not work. They couldn’t come in at all. When we were able to reopen four weeks later, we decided that these people need to feed their babies, so we did not charge them any rent for the following two weeks,” said Commons.

Commons says she leaned on the organizational, operational, and people skills she picked up in the military to overcome obstacles in small business life.

Commons’ salon business is one of more than two million veteran-owned businesses, according to the Small Business Administration. SBA offers several support programs on its website to help veterans succeed in their small businesses. You can learn more about their funding programs, training, and federal contract opportunities by clicking here.

Don  Shipman

Don Shipman

Don Shipman joined Atlanta News First in the spring of 2022 as a general assignment reporter bringing with him nearly 25 years of journalism experience.