Whether you’re interested in selling a product, starting a new business or scaling an existing one, getting expert advice is crucial for making your dream a reality.
We recently found highly successful entrepreneurs at the Vetprenuer Tribe Business Builder program at the Military Influencer Conference in Washington, D.C.
Here are just a few of the things we learned:
Dean Bundschu, Bunker Labs, Atlantic Region Executive Director
What is the most important first step somebody who wants to start their own business should take?
“Plug into the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem within your community. Get out and talk to people who are successful business owners. Don’t be afraid to reach to them on LinkedIn, or get involved with entrepreneurial organizations and of course, if there is a Bunker Labs near you, that allows you to instantly plugin with hundreds of other veteran entrepreneurs in your community. I think that’s most important because when you reach out, you can find partners, share ideas, get inspiration and don’t re-invent the wheel.”
Do you trust your gut when you think you’ve got an idea?
“When I just trusted my gut, that left room for mistakes right? So for me, it’s all about ‘trust but verify’. Nine times out of ten you know you’re on the right path, but I still want a system or a process to validate that I’m right and the idea could become a success.”
What’s the key to growing your business?
“Have a visionary and an implementer … I can tell you this, a lot of the companies I’ve seen fail is because the entrepreneur tries to do it all, when in fact their weak in one or the other. They’re often like this is my baby, and I’m the only one that can do it, without realizing, just like we did in the military, a squared away organization wasn’t because of one individual, it was because of the team.”
Charlynda Scales, Mutt Sauce, CEO
How did you get your sauce into major stores like Kroger?
“I call it my Jedi Mind Trick. I love loopholes, so when I found out that Ohio grocers had a program for local products, I met with every store manager to get my sauce on their shelves. After getting into dozens of stores through that program, when I finally was able to talk with the bigger decision-makers and they would ask what stores carried my sauce I could legitimately say, ‘Oh, we’re already in Kroger.’ Finding openings like that are a great way to create opportunities for larger orders of your product.”
Keith Langskov, USMC veteran, On View Integrated Solutions
What is a great way to increase sales?
“You could ask questions and just find the customer's pain points and present your product or service as the solution, but in a way, that’s kind of manipulation. I always like to identify the value of what I’m bringing to them. Like they could out and find something similar but it would take a huge amount of money or time … when you present the true value of your product or service the customer is far more likely to appreciate you, and that’s a pitch your way more likely to close.”
Steven Kuhn, Immediate Impact Revenue
How do you grow your web site's audience?
“I’ll give you three steps that I have personally seen a website use, and yield six-figure revenue. First, ask to share other bloggers or content creators on your site. When you do that, and tag them when you share it socially, you immediately expand your audience. Next, ask your viewers to sign a petition or support a cause that is relevant to your business. Maybe it’s a local issue or something you believe in. That will allow you to capture data like emails, IP addresses .etc. Last, add some kind of ‘Question of the Week’ so your audience interacts with you. Based on the data you’ve captured with the petition you can begin to segment your audience and present questions you know they’ll be interested in. Soon your site traffic has increased, and you will have greater potential for these clicks to convert into subscriptions, sales or donations.”
Lane Belone, US Army, Special Forces veteran, Founder QOL Enterprises (Quality of Life)
What’s the most important thing a business owner can do to ensure success?
“Keep a written daily schedule and stick to it. It sounds simple but it’s really all about having purposeful intention on what you want to do. Whenever you are crystal clear on what you are, who you are and what you want to do, then a lot of things start to fall into place automatically. Let’s say you have a project and you know the end state of what you want accomplish. Then the next step becomes the most critical. So many people are like ‘I have all these steps I have to do’ and they end up focusing on steps 2 through 17 when they really just need to spend all their energy on the very next step … The schedule helps you create a flow state, where you basically allow anything and everything to flow through you. And because I have my schedule put down on a piece of paper, I’m able to forget anything and everything that is not related to that moment. I’m living fully in that moment. By putting 100 percent of your focus into the item on your calendar, you can often get two hours worth of work done in twenty minutes. Eliminate the distractions, your phone, email whatever and commit to focusing on each item on your schedule. And after a while, that mentality will become your default and that’s when success begins because you start accomplishing everything that needs to get done.”