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What steps should I take to build my entrepreneurial skills while still working for a corporate company?


Matthew Stalford Alexandria, VA

I'm interested in gaining useful skills to be able to know how to pivot to be a business owner. Right now I'm interested in exposing myself to determining what kind of company could be beneficial and how to know when and how to make the transition to entrepreneurship.

27 November 2019 8 replies Small Business



Marc-Anthony Arena Rochester, NY

Thanks for your service!
I'd say talk to as many local small business owners as you can, and find out if they enjoy what they're doing, if there's a need for what they're doing, and if you'd enjoy doing it. I've noticed a ton of folks who are approaching retirement and their kids don't want anything to do with the business, so they're willing to sell to someone responsible.
I've done in-home tech support for seniors for the past 10 years, and can train you on that if you like. It's quite rewarding and you get to make your own hours.


Robin Hicks Naperville, IL

Don't forget to hook up with any local Chamber of Commerce as well. They often have special ed/classes for small business owners/entrepreneurs. They're in biz to help other biz owners ;-)


Tony Caggiano Youngsville, NC

There are many things you can do that don't take much time every day after or before your corporate job. There are many FREE trainings that are out there depending on what you would like to do working for yourself. I would be happy to talk to you more if you would like.


Jerome Wong Scarsdale, NY

Hi Matthew,

Thank you for your service. Watch this video to make sure you are getting into your own business for the right reasons, it is transformational-

Happy to chat afterwards as I am an angel investor as meet with lots of entrepreneurs.

Jerome Wong


William Hinz Seaford, DE

Hi, Matthew
Starting or buying a business usually comes with very high risks. To mitigate those risks there is no substitute for experience. As a new business owner, you will likely be required to fill the role of CEO and unless you have the resources to hire or subcontract business functions to others, you must fill all roles required to manage the business. The best advice I ever heard for a new entrepreneur was to get a job working for a company operating in the same field as the business you wish to own. Use that experience as an opportunity to learn as much as you can about what it takes to be successful. Look for the pros and cons, what works and what does not. Try to get familiar with the major business functions like product development, marketing and sales, manufacturing, logistics, production planning, finance and accounting, inventory management, human resources and overall business management and control tools and techniques. This may appear to be a tall order but on day one when you commit your investment as a business owner, you inherit responsibility to manage and monitor everything about the business. You may hire help but the buck stops with you. To minimize risk, you need to be prepared. Use your business plan to identify your strengths and weaknesses and define areas you need help to supplement your skills.


Nancy Quartey Palo Alto, CA

Hi Matthew,
Have you considered franchising? It can be a great way to pivot into business ownership because they provide ongoing training and support. They are typically looking for soft skills that you likely already have as a veteran: the ability to implement a plan, build and lead teams, and persevere. I'd be happy to talk to you more about it if you're interested. You may find business ownership could be a possibility sooner than you think.


James Watters Norman, OK

According to Mario Peshev, CEO of DevriX and SME Digital Consultant on Quora:

Ten skills you need to have as an entrepreneur:

1. Curiosity. Great entrepreneurs are tasked to discover new problems, reveal potential niche opportunities, refactor their original business process, and innovate. This is contingent on being passionate about different fields of study and business cases outside of one’s comfort zone.

2. Time management. Careful priority planning, defining milestones, execution, and iteration are all important. None of that would lead toward progress without the right project management and time allocation methodology that gets the work done.

3. Strategic thinking. Learning to decompose a problem to its core and reveal opportunities for growth. Figuring out creative solutions and identifying the low-hanging fruits. Defining the scope for an MVP and testing concepts within limited time and with a low budget.

4. Efficiency. You need high performance when it comes to solving a problem. Applying the 80/20 rule and other techniques for yielding higher results in less time. Switching between different chores and progressing effectively day-to-day.

5. Resilience. Handling rejections, stress, burnouts, lack of focus, slow progress. Determination and eagerness to fight the same dragon every morning are instrumental when it comes to building a business from scratch.

6. Communication. Crisp and concise communication is paramount for each and every interaction with clients, partners, peers, clients, prospects.

7. Networking. Growing a network facilitates business opportunities, partnership deals, finding subcontractors or future employees. It expands the horizons of PR and conveying the right message on all fronts.

8. Finance. Finance management will make or break a business. Handling resources properly and carefully assessing investments compared to ROI is a solid requirement for entrepreneurs.

9. Branding. Building a consistent personal and business brand tailored to the right audience. Igniting brand awareness in new verticals.

10. Sales. Being comfortable doing outreach and creating new business opportunities. Finding the right sales channels that convert better and investing heavily in developing them. Building sales funnels and predictable revenue opportunities for growth.

Good luck.

James G Watters


James Moreno Austin, TX

Great question Major Stalford! I would suggest 3 sources to start. 1) There are a number of groups like or that host meetups and training events specifically for Veteran entrepreneurs. 2) State agencies like the veterans commission and non profits like have excellent resources for entrepreneurs. 3) I have always loved Fast Company as a source of ideas and inspiration, but there are probably similar digital forums you can use as well. I hope these resources help, best of luck!

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