Guest Blog: Supporting Veterans with Mental Health Issues
May 19, 2016
It’s Not Just About the Fishing
August 30, 2016

Guest Blog: Tips for Veterans to Become Entrepreneurs


Contributed by:
Amy Ridgway
Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program

Traditionally, the first step an entrepreneur would take is to conduct extensive research and build a concrete business plan complete with all the details of running a business. Although this method teaches a comprehensive way to help entrepreneurs envision issues and a concrete method for developing the business plan for investors, the fact remains that at least 9 out of 10 startups will fail.

The reason for this is because the founders focus so much on their vision that they forget to consider the bottom line, that the customer is the one who determines whether or not the problem is worth paying to solve, and if the entrepreneur’s solution is the one that solves the problem most effectively. Whereas businesses used to be able to create a product or service and market it in a way that was appealing to consumers, businesses nowadays cannot survive using this method. The fact is, today the world is saturated with products and services. The startup that survives is the startup that focuses on solving a consumer’s migraine problem or need.

The lean startup method is a method for building a business that focuses on testing each piece of a business model and value proposition before using up all of your resources. The lean startup method is based around the philosophy that traditional business plans are developed around a series of untested hypotheses, and the key to a successful startup is to test these hypotheses on real customers! This should take place before the entrepreneur has spent all of his or her time, energy, and money on a startup that is destined for failure.

The key to a successful startup is to follow the path of evidence-based entrepreneurship. The journey will be fun and exciting, but there will be many bumps and turns that will often incite feelings of confusion and depression. Building a startup is not easy, and you will be tested to your limits, but if you put in the work and effort to truly discover what the customer wants and needs, you will have a much greater chance of success. Existing companies execute a business model, while startups search for one.

Helpful tips for Veterans looking to become entrepreneurs:

  • Talk to as many people as possible to determine the true “migraine” problem. (A great book to help understand this mindset is “All in Startup” by Dianna Kander)
  • When speaking with potential customers, make sure to ask open-ended questions instead of leading questions.

Leading questions give you the answers you want to hear:
“Are you…”
“Will you…”
”Do you agree that…”
“If you could do [blank]…”

Open-ended questions help you get to the root of the problem:
“Tell me about a time when…”

  • Don’t wait until your product/service is perfect before you test it with real customers.
  • Let the customers tell you what features are important to them.
  • Test each piece of your business model on potential customers, suppliers, and partners.
  • Don’t be afraid to let go of a bad idea.
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