by Mike Steadman
As veterans and military spouse entrepreneurs, we have grand ambitions for our new ventures. We see ourselves living the lives of our dreams, escaping the rat race of the 9-5, renting office space, and building a kick ass team to bring our vision to life. As amazing as this all sounds, none of this can happen unless we start generating business revenue.
Even if you’re a tech startup and plan to raise venture capital to fund your company, you still need to demonstrate the ability to sell a product or service first, as well as the kind of exponential revenue growth that makes a venture capitalist drool.
Entrepreneurs should avoid launching a business without generating some revenue at all costs. Validate the business model first, then build the business around it.
Generate Business Revenue: Learn From a Marine
I’m a former Marine, and Marines have to learn the hard way. I did the exact opposite of the advice I am now providing. I attempted to force my first venture on the marketplace, a corporate wellness company that taught boxing as a form of employee wellness, without testing the market. Although I was able to generate income, it took a year and half before I was generating enough to cover living expenses. During that time, I supplemented income as an independent consultant. Before launching my current venture, I gradually exited out of corporate wellness while on-boarding paying podcast clients. Once I had a few clients, I knew I had validated the market and the business model was worth pursuing. Generating revenue and market validation (or failing) before making commitments, such as prototype development, signing a lease, or spending money on paid ads, makes it less likely you invest in something no one wants.
If you’ve already launched and you still aren’t generating revenue, it’s okay. Below is a five-step guide to start generating business revenue.
Five Steps to Generate Business Revenue
- Write a clearly articulated value proposition. This value proposition should include an overview of your business idea, a problem you’ve identified in the market, how your venture is positioned to solve this problem, and the immediate next steps you’ll take to move your venture forward.
- Create a one-page business plan. (Most business plans are longer than a page, but writing a one-pager is a great way to get started.) This should include a short description of your business, a list of the products or services you offer, and your pricing strategy. If you’re a service-based business, package your services into tiers (try starting with three). Write down what is included in each tier and at what cost.
- Create a simple plan (three-steps or less is a good place to start) for warm leads to begin engaging with you, or purchase one of your products. For example:
- Visit our website
- Schedule a product demo
- Select a product tier
- Identify your perfect customer by creating a buyer persona. Once you’ve created the persona, then find real people who fit that description. If you’re a service provider, find someone in your network who can provide a warm referral or introduction to these people. For those of you who sell physical products, create flyers, host pop-ups—do whatever it takes. Just make sure you’re focusing your time and energy on getting in front of your ideal buyer. Regardless of what you’re selling, business is about relationships.
- Create a one-page marketing plan. The plan should be simple, easy, and executable. Don’t overcomplicate it. The purpose of the plan is to get you in front of pre-interested, pre-motivated, pre-qualified and pre-disposed-to-do-business-with-you LEADS! You’ll know it’s working if you’re increasing revenue! Everything else is a vanity metric.
Regardless of what business or industry you’re in, follow these steps to move from idea to invoice in a relatively short amount of time. I can’t stress this enough: Leverage your personal network. Not necessarily for sales, but to be brand champions, and to help you engage with qualified leads. If you’re uncomfortable doing sales, or lack experience, check out The Transition podcast episode with Bob Burg who focuses on sales as a process of forming genuine relationships with people.
The Transition Podcast
The Transition podcast is hosted by “IRON” Mike Steadman, The “Voice of the Bunker.” Mike is a Marine Corps veteran, entrepreneur, and community leader, with a passion for teaching entrepreneurship to veterans and urban communities. After leaving active duty in 2015, Mike relocated to Newark, NJ where he founded IRONBOUND Boxing, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that provides free amateur boxing training, entrepreneur education, and employment opportunities to Newark youth & young adults. He‘s also the founder of IRONBOUND Media, a podcast production agency.
The Transition podcast is made possible by the generous donation of the Metlife Foundation, and their commitment the supporting veteran and military-spouse entrepreneurs. In addition, The foundation also provides mentorship and financial health resources to veterans and military spouses transitioning into the workforce.
Get Connected with Other Entrepreneurs
Share your journey along the way on Bunker Online. Bunker Online is the online business networking platform build by Bunker Labs for veterans, military spouses and military connected entrepreneurs and small business owners to network and connect. There are specialized groups for people working on their business plans, marketing plans, etc. You can ask questions, share ideas, and get feedback along the way.