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The off-duty hustle of third shift entrepreneurs

A Navy veteran is teaching others how to stop waiting for permission to pursue their dreams. Former naval officer Todd Connor knows what it means to hustle. He’s the CEO of Bunker Labs, co-founder of The Collective Academy, and runs a B&B with his husband.

Connor recently wrote a book called “Third Shift Entrepreneur: Keep Your Day Job, Build Your Dream Job,” because he says many people have a false narrative about what it takes to start a business, specifically those in the military-connected community.

He said that as much a 25% of separating service members want to start a business. Part of Bunker Labs’ mission is to ensure that veterans have a community to connect with the people, resources, and support they need. To help with that mission, Connor’s book looks at the path, philosophy, and real strategies that can help launch a business without risking anything. He explores what it takes to deploy the right strategies, but also what a person needs to do to internalize a belief system that helps them start and grow a business.

“Third Shift Entrepreneur” follows the story of a person named Matt, who faces a midlife crisis and is ready for a career change. After a chance encounter, and with the support of his network of fellow entrepreneurs, Matt’s world opens up as he realizes there’s a way to take control of his destiny.

“Unless people can see a path that doesn’t require them to be independently wealthy, they’re not going to fulfill their dreams of owning a business,” Connor said.

One of the many challenges members in the military community face when they try to open a business is not having the right mentors and resources available. Veterans, active-duty personnel, and military spouses don’t always know about the options available.

“After WWII, 50% of veterans came home and started a business. So, if you lived in that generation, that’s what you saw. You returned home to your local community and knew a lot of people that had already started a business, so you had a powerful social network and a lot of mentorship,” Connor said.

Today’s generation of military veterans just doesn’t have that, and Connor considers it his personal mission to demystify the pathway that exists to starting a business. “Third Shift Entrepreneur” presents relatable characters with clear role models — characters designed and written to be relatable to the military community. Connor notes that if veterans aren’t aware of those in their network who have successfully started their own businesses, it’s harder to succeed.

Read Todd’s story on page 16 of the December issue of the Military Influencer Magazine.

“People coming out of the military have high ambition and dreams of starting their own business, but they don’t know how to do it. The rates of entry into business ownership have been declining. So now we have a big challenge and no one in the military community has been presented with strategies and pathways to doing that,” he said.

Connor adds the most pressing lesson he’s learned, and one that he teaches others at Bunker Labs, is that it’s possible to start slow, keep your day job, and carefully grow a business before going all in. By going slow to start, entrepreneurs have less risk, which ultimately might set them up for better successes. This is very important since most entrepreneurs, especially in the military community, need to keep their first shift day job for a while before their businesses are financially viable.

“I think about it like this: Your first shift is your day job. Your second shift is supporting your family and your life. That third shift is nights and weekends where you take time to do the things you need to build a business,” Connor said.

“Third Shift Entrepreneur” is available now for pre-order on Amazon. Visit to learn more about the book and Connor’s podcast.





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