Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in training and education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Joshua Atkinson, Chief Strategy Officer of PM-ProLearn, located in Bristow, VA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

PM-ProLearn is a veteran-founded Project Management training company focused on being the bridge between the military and industry. We are working to integrate industry certifications in Project Management (PMP, PMI-ACP, and Lean Six Sigma) into the military training mindset so we can improve on military planning and leadership and create job credibility in transition. We also work with the industry to help upskill their talent and help integrate intentional training and development programs. We continue to expand our offerings as we have built training courses on helping veterans prepare for transition emotionally, professionally, and financially called "the empowered transition," and we teach the industry how to hire better and retain veteran talent.

Our primary customer is the military and the defense industrial base, but we serve everyone. We are looking to expand our services to state governments and any organization struggling to design and implement process and training standardization and build a high-performing culture.

Tell us about yourself

I am a Marine Corps Veteran who served 11.5 years on active duty and another two years in the reserves. I was blessed to learn about certifications while in uniform and saw their impact while serving and beyond. From the business side, I am an accidental entrepreneur. My good friend Tim Dalhouse is the originator of PM-ProLearn and asked me if I wanted to help him get it off the ground. I decided to try because I believed in the mission. I am driven by helping people. At first, it was to help my friend achieve his dream with PM-ProLearn, but it has grown now to want to help every service member and others grow and improve their lives in any way I can. I am motivated every day by a passion for helping others have a better journey in their careers than I did. As the head of the strategy, I see it as my job to serve my team and ensure we are on the right trajectory to enable the growth and impact we desire.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment has been seeing this dream become a reality. By God's grace, we have been blessed with the best team to help us continue to refine and shape our vision and keep growing and helping others. We continue to find ways to help and give back, and I don't feel I have really accomplished much. We, as a team, have made this possible. What I have loved most lately is seeing our alumni and customers come back wanting to work with us and help us continue to help others. We expand because of the quality of service and training that we provide. From our initial customer interaction until the final goals are achieved and beyond, we want to be a partner with our clients.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Learning to let go. I have read so many times about the leadership gap in business. I am experiencing that now too. When you first start out, you do everything. In my case, I was responsible for marketing, branding, networking, sales, closing, scheduling operations, etc. As we have grown, though, each of these areas starts becoming the responsibility of someone else or another department. Shifting from doing to teaching, coaching, and mentoring is hard but necessary.

I think the other difficult part is always staying ahead of the competition. By educating and empowering my team and caring for them, though, I don't carry this burden on my own.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Do it. Just start is something I have heard out there.
  2. Do your research in the market and identify what sets you apart.
  3. Build a team. PM-ProLearn has been successful because it has been a team effort from day one. We trusted each other, relied on each other, and helped each other. We studied the market, knew our passion, identified gaps, and positioned ourselves to be the solution to customer informational needs. We are Agile in culture and willing to be wrong and change daily if needed. It's a team.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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