Veteran Entrepreneur: Sarah Skedsvold, Founder, Nine-Four Coaching

Written by: Brady Drake

Sarah Skedsvold grew up in a small town in western North Dakota where she learned there was always a place on the team for someone who worked hard and was committed, and a leader doesn’t have to be a star.

Skedsvold took that hard work and commitment to the North Dakota Army National Guard where she learned that a group of people, committed to each other, can deliver on the seemingly impossible.

After her time in the Guard, Skedsvold became a CrossFit Coach here in Fargo.

“It taught me the value of being a beginner and surrounding yourself with people you aspire to be like,” said Skedsvold.

Sarah Skedsvold’s company, Nine-Four Coaching, allows people to challenge their own beliefs through outdoor mindfulness practice, play and podcasts.

Skedsvold currently partners with Nature of the North and Thunder Coffee, locally, and Team Red, White and Blue, regionally, to provide outdoor mindfulness experiences, getting people out of their heads and into the woods.

She also hosts a podcast, Nine-Four Radio, providing tools and empowerment for people to ask deep and different questions of themselves with the intended result of achieving something that is uniquely meaningful.

“I know what it’s like to work and sacrifice to achieve a dream that isn’t worth the price,” said Skedsvold. “I help folks who are there now and help head off others from ever getting there, through outdoor mindfulness practices and play.”

What was your first job once you finished your service?

I was an associate coach at Icehouse Fit here in Fargo.

What led you to military service?

Honestly, I was looking for a team to belong to after high school, do meaningful work, and the college benefits were pretty appealing too.

Did you take advantage of military benefits when starting your business?

I didn’t take advantage of many business-related military benefits. I definitely maxed out college benefits while I was serving and I continue to rely on trusted mentors I met during my military career.

What skill that you learned in your military service do you use most in your business career?

Finding common ground with all different kinds of people. It never ceases to amaze me how people who seem to be complete opposites can always find something in common.

Would you have been able to start a business without your military experience? Why or why not?

I don’t think I would have been able to start a business without my military experience. My experiences inspired me to dream big, gave me the tools to create an actionable plan, the confidence to start, and the resilience to make adjustments and keep going.

What words of encouragement do you have for a fellow veteran nervous about taking the plunge into entrepreneurship – or maybe a veteran who started a business and is struggling?

Know why you are starting, or remember why you started.

If you can’t, talk to someone you trust and respect, who respects and trusts you enough to ask tough questions and gives you space and time to find your answers.

Many veterans struggle with finding a sense of purpose when reintegrating into the civilian world. How can getting involved in the business community help with that reintegration process?

A lot of veterans wear self-sufficiency like a badge of honor. The military is great because it makes even the most self-sufficient individual be a member of a team, and there is an often unexpected alchemy that results from that teamwork.

The civilian world doesn’t force teamwork in the same way, and without the intention to find community, a wildly independent veteran entrepreneur can find themselves fighting the doubt and hardship, that are common in the business world, alone.

Getting involved in the business community offers a way to build a support system and rediscover the unexpected alchemy that results from teamwork.

What are some things you would’ve done differently with your business career if given a second chance?

In the early stages of building Nine-Four Coaching, I would have talked to my family and friends; reached out to veteran and small business resources and approached complementary businesses to partner with. I am continually relearning the lesson that I can go fast and burn out alone or I can go far with others. I choose to go far.

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.