5 Fears Shared by New Veteran Entrepreneurs

After my recent presentation at the AUSA Convention hosted by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, I was asked several questions about entrepreneurship.

I had just presented the topic of personal branding and networking to a group of fledgling entrepreneurs at various stages of business growth. Some just leaked an idea; some prepared pitch decks and met with new investors. They all had questions, and most centered on genuine fears and hesitations.

The five biggest fears of new seasoned entrepreneurs and how to address them:

1. networks

As much as we talk about the power of networking after the military — whether someone is entering the job market, starting a business, retiring, or pursuing higher education — the topic still scares many. Entrepreneurs rightly believe that it is important to be visible and to build a wide, deep network of contacts who can help, support, advance, recommend and support them, but how to do that is intimidating.

In order to connect with the right investors, business partners, employees and vendors, you need to know the right people. how do you meet her Networking. If you think of networking as relationship building rather than selling, the process becomes a little more palatable. While you may ask someone in your network to help you (i.e. invest in your business), you are giving them something valuable in return (an opportunity to be a part of something growing and meaningful). To network effectively, you must have a passionate belief in the idea you are promoting. Regardless of the type of business or venture you start, you need to be in order to get others excited about it.

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As you become more comfortable with the structure, vision, market and opportunities you are building, share that excitement with people who share a similar interest and let them help you connect the dots to create a build a valuable network.

2. Social Media

How, where, when and why a new business should be present on social media confuses many new entrepreneurs. The online space can feel unpredictable, unmeasurable, and daunting if you’re not familiar with how it works. For new business ventures, start by considering what your company offers: Are you starting a business to provide financial advice to first-time home buyers? Is your business about providing IT solutions to defense contractors? Have you invented a widget that makes meal prep easier? If you know what your offer is, then take a look at who your target audience is. Do you sell B2B (Business to Business) or B2C (Business to Consumer)? If it’s the former, then a social media site like LinkedIn might make the most sense for social media. On LinkedIn, professionals connect with each other about new ideas, trends, information, and events to advance their own careers or businesses. If your product or company solves business challenges, your target audience is probably here. If your business speaks more to individuals or consumers, then check out a site like Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest. This is where people look for solutions to their more personal needs and interests.

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Social media is about speaking to the people you want to reach in a personal, meaningful, and attention-grabbing way. Know your offer, know your audience and connect them by sharing strategic content, offers, stories and vision to attract them to your business.

3. Relying on others/asking for help

Whether it’s mentoring, guidance, encouragement, or business support, every successful entrepreneur knows they need other people’s help to survive and thrive. It’s unrealistic to think that you could quit a military career and delve into the deep end of corporate ownership and have all the answers. From the Small Business Administration, online forums, mentoring groups, and other entrepreneurs, make yourself comfortable and ask for help. We’ve all been through that. No question is stupid when you start. The people in your network want to help you see your success and are honored that you have sought their guidance and support.

4. Not understanding business

Do you need a business degree to run a business? no Numerous boot camp programs, incubators, entrepreneurship platforms, and books today can accelerate your understanding of business, basic accounting, human resource management, sales, fulfillment, investment options, and hiring best practices. The best part is that you can learn as you go. Not everything has to be clear from the start.

5. Find a mentor

One of my favorite questions was mentoring. The young marine asked if it was true that there were people who would only help you because they wanted to see success. My answer: “Yes!” Find a mentor or three to help you build and grow your business. You may outgrow your mentor, need different skills and connections, and need expanded support as your business grows. Don’t assume that a mentor will be with you from the start to the sale of your business. You will likely have several that offer different ranges of values. All they ask is that if someone asks you for help, one day you will return the favor.

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The author of Success After Service: How to Take Control of Your Job Search and Career After Military Duty (2020) and Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition (2014), Lida Citroën is a keynote speaker and presenter, executive coach, popular TEDx speaker, and instructor of several LinkedIn Learning courses. She regularly teaches workshops on personal branding, executive presence, leadership communications, and reputational risk management.

Contributing Author for Military.com, Lida is a passionate military supporter who volunteers her time to help veterans transition into civilian careers and to support employers looking to hire military talent. She regularly speaks at conferences, corporate meetings, and events focused on the military transition.

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