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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



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


Elliot Young Brooklyn, NY

Get ready Matt..

Matthew the world has changed It went digital and mobile and there are still small business owners with unprofessional logos and using AOL GMAIL and HOTMAIL as their email addresses and think its ok. They are not aware and dont even know that they are building barriers to access their business and will never break through. If you are doing things older than 5-7yrs they your not doing it right. People wear it as a badge of honor when they say they have been doing something for 25yrs especially marketing. They are just alerting the world they are doing it wrong. The ONLY thing you can do to have a sound business that will survive are a few documents. The P&L Statement, the Balance Sheet, and the Cash Flow Statement. There are 28 million small business owners in the United States and 24 million of them are "Non employers". They have no employees but they are the heartbeat of America. If just 10% of them were able understand or even heard of those three documents there would be no employment crisis. In any event the next things are not so traditional. If you are doing it like everyone else you suck. Pick an industry product and/or service. Then pick the leaders in the field #1 and #2. Then offer what they do and a slightly better price and offer more.

Im going to tell you what people wont and dont know and think they do while smiling and taking your money. Only because they keep selling what they learned 25yrs ago instead of 5 days ago, 5 weeks ago, or 5 months ago. The disruptive tools small business uses today.

Business. Name should be 12 letters or less period. Even if its 2 words and it should say what it is or have something catchy to do with the industry like CMSNSE or APPLIKEABOSS. Like IHOP, Citibank, or BIGASSFANS. This is to remember easy, smaller URL, smaller email address, and noone will spell it wrong. This is for social media too. When choosing a name once you see if the URL is available at see if it is available on ALL social media. So when someone Googles your firm you come up on all social media and take up all the first page of the search. ( etc)

Location: Spend the $99 a month so you have a decent place to have meetings, do business live videos, brainstorm, use wifi, get coffee, etc. Spend another $50 and have professional address but NOT necessary in the beginning

Business Card: Make a MODERN business card that has your name CALL APPS AND ONE WORD. First name in a different color than your last name. Also have a QR code that attached to a jotform so they can schedule an appointment and you can screen clients before you speak to them. Giving you time to put together a well thought out plan and to review their business or circumstance. The info will come right to your phone on the app in real time. ALWAYS add a BUDGET question for most industries, If they are broke so are you. Always have a drop down menu and the lowest price is your lowest price not your minimum. Ask the same or just a little bit lower than major companies. Make sure you can explain your business in 10 words or less and place that on your business card.

Automation: Automate every part of your business you can until you need a human. Screening and processing leave that heavy lifting to machines. If you are just using ads and marketing tools you have a great business because it operates itself and you can do business anywhere. Leaving you to be mobile and essentially happy and stress free for the most part. Video, email, and chat are great tools. Make sure you use bots in FB messenger for customer service so most of the average questions can be answered and a screener can be used there as well. Look for tools like this online and in youtube. Mailchimp autoresponders, clickfunnels, and social media tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are great automated tools. Along with being able to take payments using your smartphone using Square. Also creating invoices on the go (square also). You can have field reps download square to their phones and et them up to take credit card payments and they will never see your customers information.

Merchandising: Always wear your company merch. Free advertisement with a QR code on the back of the neck and or sleeves so people can fill out that screening form and visit your website using their phone. They will do it on an elevator and escalator behind your back or on a movie line. You wont even know it. Hat on the back as well and your email sig or a HTML link in words saying "FREE CONSULTATION". Vistaprint to try but Printify honestly once you have a professional logo this way you pay yourself and your customers can purchase. Make sure its sharp, wearable with jeans or with a jacket so people can wear it anywhere.

Image: Get hosting from and get the free URL so you can get 5 emails as well. DO NOT USE AOL GMAIL YAHOO GMAIL OR ANYTHING ELSE. That screams unprofessional, overpriced, home based, and sketchy. Do a professional logo logotournament or 99designs.

Hardware: Use two LED monitors at least 24in and wide so you have the real estate to have your email on one side, chat split screen to support customers live and room to read and write documents and to surf the web simultaneously while teleconferencing. Save you time and money like high functioning person should. Buy from a DELL Outlet and get everything refurbished. Refurbished is another word for brand new. Thats because someone already broke the thing that would have broke on someone else and got it fixed. Plus you can add a warranty and always get COMPLETE CARE. Dell has the best warranty in the industry. Apple is expensive and not needed its just a white computer that doesnt the same thing as everyone else. Its like buying a $500 belt and all it does is hold pants up. Not startup friendly and I been building computers for 25yrs and they are 90% the same. When it comes to printers ONLY get HP inkjet printers. They last a long time and make sure they print, scan, copy, and are able to double side print, wifi, networking, etc. GO to HP and find one for $300 and go to ebay and see if you can get a new one for cheaper sometimes it works and you have full warranty. As long as you buy from a seller that has like 20,000 reviews and more. You can assure a good item.

Website: In 2015 Google said if your website isnt mobile they wont index you. So you have geniuses spending salaries on adwords to get indexed when they dont have to 60% of the worlds business is chosen from that first Google search page. Make sure I can email you, call you, see your address, your social media, download a brochure, make an appointment, and buy your products and services right from your site. Don't end up like Doctors that let ZocDoc (Billion dollar company) to exist stealing $1500 annually just because Doctors dont have ONE LINE OF CODE to schedule an appointment on their website. Make sure the number is a link to open the phone app, the address opens GPS, and the email address opens your email app. This is for mobile devices.

Marketing: Make sure you know what a funnel is 90% of SB owners dont. ( Use Hootsuite Tweetdeck etc to launch your social media in multiple places.

Social: Use FB Ads but make sure you have a FB Ads Manager and FB Ads account. Make sure you have 4 social accounts. FB and Twitter (to reach customers), Youtube (Testimonials and product and service demos), LinkedIn (for B2B and hiring), IG if you have a business that is visual heavy like Fashion, travel or photography.

Ads: Create ads using Canva, make sure you have hashtags to use so they are searchable later. Use them everytime you tweet and post.

Smartphone: Get a Android S8 and up I dont recommend phones with no headphone jacks for real headsets, earrings for headphones you can lose easily and cost too much, and devices that have no expandable memory, charge you for space when google photos is unlimited, etc etc and want $1000 for it. Groupon an Android and get it unlocked. Download an app called 2nd line and use it on your wifi to make and receive calls and texts FREE so you dont have to pay for another number. Use Evernote, Google drive, Inshot, Duo, Du Recorder, Waze, QRcode scanner, cam card, canva, Oratory Teleprompter, square, 2nd line, goodRX, Jotform, email app by edison, smart recorder, military discount, URL shortener, Google Chrome ONLY, Lookout security (Until you get a VPN service dont pay more than $7mo) Gasbuddy, and organize your apps in folders. So all business apps will be in the business folder, All car apps in the car folder, etc etc. Make sure you have ONE desktop on your phone 2 max. Delete ALL the app shortcuts on your phone you wont be deleting them. THEN add ONLY the apps you use the most on the first screen and make sure the ones you use the most are within a thumbs reach. So the most often used ones would be on the bottom 2 rows. Make sure you have 5 apps across not 4 and at least 6 up.

Use for keywords and phrases to use on your website to please google analytics and use Google Analytics App and make sure you add a Google Analytics ID to your website to track traffic. Use a Google Chrome app called Keyword Everywhere. Its not free but ti words like Google Trends. Create a Google Pin for your business too and use the REGUS Address so people look up your business on Google Maps and see its not in your home. Consumers do it trust me.

Press: Noone thinks like the big companies. Put out a press release every time you do something huge. When you launch, land a huge client, international client, etc. Use SBWIre or eReleases.

Know what Print On Demand is like Printify, or what a Shopify Store is, and how to upload a Wordpress site. All tools you need to know just to run a business THE RIGHT WAY without worrying about going out of business and being able to pivot when most cant.

Also build a mobile application you will be in front of 360million downloads a day and be in 5 languages. (There are 6500 languages and business owners only advertise in English lol. When if you advertise JUST IN French and Spanish you would add 50 countries. Yes I said 50, think you can find ANY customers to buy ANYTHING from you? Its just 50 countries thats all).

Paypal will lend you money up to 6 months interest free, Square allows your customers to pay over time but you get your money upfront, and I forget what else I was going to say. I charge 5K to set all of this up for you + mobile app and more and I just gave it to you for FREE so ALL you VETS and everyone out there COPY AND PASTE THIS NOW AND SAVE IT TO ACTUALLY DO IT WITHOUT QUESTION. That way at least alot will be done when you have your next questions and have the money to pay someone for the answer to better ones. AFTER you check YouTube and Google for the answers first. We live in interesting times.

Do all of what said or nothing. No other way to survive, make a living, and see the world with your family, and pay for the kids education. In order to survive you need $300K annually with a family of three (One child)

Purchase a 6000lb car and up because IRS says you can write it off. See here

and here updated for 2019.

You can write off the amount of space you use for business. You can write off your travel into work as long as you hand your business card out on the way everyday. 1/3 lights, mortgage, phone, cable, etc.

The most common asset class in wealthy people is real estate is earned income and the most heavily taxed income. In NY its 50% + 13% and if you go to Whole Foods its 11% extra. You have to get the earned income column into the investment income column so you dont pay taxes.

Real Estate offers 5 major things that create generational wealth.

Tax Advantages

Non Tax States as of 4/12/2019
Resource Link:
Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming have no income tax – for any residents

Write Offs

Restaurant Meetings 
Call the meeting a strategic planning meeting You can write off the meeting 100% 
But if you call the meeting a business meeting you can only write off 50% 

Office Meetings (Coffee and donuts)
Call the meeting a business meeting you can write off 100% 
Call the meeting a strategic planning meeting you can write off only 50% 

You can write off babysitting, trips to Bermuda (because they have treaties with the United States) and you can pay your live in girlfriend or boyfriend and write off the expense. The cooking and cleaning and organization of some of the business can be a paid salary and written off at the end of the year ($2500 is the max check for the updated information)

You cannot write off your ride to work but if you stop and hand out your business cards on the way you can write off the ride to work every morning

You can write off vehicles weighing over 6000lbs. As long as you use it everyday for business. Make sure you visit people, and go to places where business is happening and going to take place. Stopping at places of business to do some business like handing out your business cards. Its a write off.

Home Office
Write off 25% of the square footage of your home. (i.e. 1000 sq ft home you can wrote off 25% of the area by creating a home office and make sure everything in that area is for business) Doing so you can write off 25% of your rent or mortgage. 

$500 or more you dont have to report but anything over $500 you can write off as long as you report it.
Start a company purchased a property and rent it out as a tenant you can write a full price of the property off. The tenant is also the owner. 

Write Off: Rent, utilities, phone, insurance, travel and entertainment
Low chance of an audit
Know your deductions
Be aggressive
Never fear an audit

Audits: What increases the chance of an audit and are not bad things some are opportunities.
Too much info 
Failure to report
Taking lodge charitable donations 
Claiming home or office deduction into 
Claiming rental losses 
Make more money 
Loss of expenses 
Run a cash business
Foreign Money
Foreign Deposits

Capital Gains tax is the lowest, sole proprietor is the highest.

Best advise I could ever give is:

Active: Jobs (Wages and salaries)
Passive: (Cash Flow)
Portfolio: (Dividends) You own a stock and sell it for more you pay taxes on the difference.

There is only one that in not taxed and thats passive (cash flow) and C corps dont pay taxes.

Term life every 10yrs, when you cash out buy another in full. Eliminates generational poverty. Poverty is under $100K annually ($68K bring home) each in the USA if you want any kind of real life and thats bear minimum.

Buy this FREE Grant Cardone book for $9 shipping and you will understand. All three of my kids 14, 15, and 20 have read it

and also read Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki my kids read that one too and teach your kids to play Chess. That means you need to know how to play.

Try reading 2 books a month. Travel one weekend a month or once every quarter, and learn something new every 30 days. FB Ads, build a computer, build a WordPress site, Use Hootsuite, etc. What a week, a month, a year, and what a life it will be. Have everyone in the family follow it. Life doesn't suck, only some people do.

Please consult your CPA IRS Agent and Legal Advisor this information is for educational purposes ONLY. No advise was given and I am not an accountant or attorney.

I am:
A reader (500+)
A Family Man
A son of a WWII soldier
A Business Owner
Graphics Designer
Content Developer
Press Release Advisor
Social Media Manager
Small Business Expert
A Mobile App Developer
Mobile Website Developer
Software and Hardware Developer
and much more

So I have a particular point of view and set of skills. I will never lead you wrong, ever.

Im here, thank you for your service. No time to wait, you have a family to feed.

::: stands and salutes:::

(Figure of speech for me out of respect. My Dad was in WWII, and many of my family are in military and law enforcement active and retired around the world)

Excuse typos and I am sure I am missing alot. I apologize ahead of time but this should eliminate barriers of access to your business that prevents someone from at least being able to BUY from you. The rest is up to you.

Good luck soldier...



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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