Q. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
A. Champions For Veterans is an organization devoted to helping veterans get the VA disability rating they deserve by making the VA system simple and easy to understand. We do that by providing an online course, winning statement templates, weekly coaching calls and a private online community of likeminded individuals who join our program and support one another. We are a completely online program and serve veterans all over the world. What we realize is that the VA system can be frustrating to deal with, especially if a veteran is not aware of how to navigate it. Our goal is to make it so all veterans are aware of how simple it can be to pursue the VA disability rating that they deserve and how they can not only master their case and get the VA disability rating that they deserve, but continue to keep their VA disability rating in the long run. In addition to our online program, we started a podcast, “Convos with Heroes”, with the intention of giving veterans a platform to share their stories with the world. This has been an amazing experience and we plan to educate others on the amazing things veterans are doing and give them and their families a space to share awe inspiring stories.
Q. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
A. I am educating in accounting, with both bachelors and masters of accountancy from the University of Mississippi. After spending 9 years in the accounting profession at various small and large organizations, I decided to branch out in July of 2020 and start Champions For Veterans. My father is the veteran with the abundance of knowledge in the VA system and after seeing what he was doing to help veterans, I had the vision to take what he was teaching and bring it to an online platform in order to serve more veterans. I’m passionate about giving back and serving as many people as possible, primarily through my church activities and this organization. Through Champions For Veterans, I’ve been able change the lives of countless individuals and inspire others to greatness.
Q. What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
A. I was aware of the online education industry when my dad explained to me what he was doing to help veterans get the VA disability rating that they deserve. In a single conversation, he taught me what a VA disability rating was and told me about some of his success stories. Realizing that he was educating people in something that is life changing and spending a lot of his time doing it to help a small number of people, I had the idea to bring it to an online platform to free up his time and help many more people. Over a 3 year period, my dad helped 20 veterans get higher ratings, 10 of which have gotten to a 100% rating, which is the peak rating that provides a wealth of benefits, both financially and medically. Since we started Champions For Veterans in July 2020, we have been able to provide free valuable consultations to over 1,200 veterans and have continued to support over 450 veterans in our program with many of them getting 100% ratings and big increases in their ratings.
Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
A. Face your fears and think through the worst thing that could happen, then decide on if it is worth it to move forward. I left my job in July 2020 before we even started consulting with veterans, but I had a vision for what we could eventually do and even though I had fears, I had way more faith. Fear paralyzes so you can’t allow it to do that to you.
Realize that your business will change over time so always be ready to adjust and grow from it. Our business went from just me and my dad to now having 3 employees. We knew that we could make it here, but it took time, creativity and experience to realize how to get here. In addition, I know it’s going to take time, creativity and experience to get to where we are going next.
See challenges as opportunities to learn and be better. Don’t let a set-back keep you from moving forward.
Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Q. How many hours do you work a day on average?
Q. To what do you most attribute your success?
A. My faith in God that’s guided my values and beliefs in addition to the daily pursuit of continuous improvement.
Q. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
A. We primarily market on LinkedIn to veterans. This has been how we’ve gotten at least 95% of our business.
Q. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
A. We are completely self-funded by me. I took my savings and invested it into the business from the beginning.
Q. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
A. You cannot do this on your own. It’s so important to leverage your resources, whether it’s your creative mind, books you read and listen to, podcasts and a community of like-minded individuals. You also want to leverage your relationships by partnering with and adding value to those around you. Your ability to connect with others and build great relationships is key.
Q. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
A. I see us growing our business to stratospheric levels by being the best known support system to get the VA disability rating a veteran deserves. When a veteran thinks VA disability rating support, I want them to think “Champions For Veterans”. I see myself leading our organization there, but taking a step back from CEO to give a veteran with more connection to the veteran community the reigns. I want to grow into more of an investor and business owner vs running a business.
Q. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
A. I admire businesses that started small and grew to great heights. The Home Depot is one I admire most because of how it became what it is today in addition to the values that the company stands on. Values are so important to the growth and success of a company and I want our company to always be one built on values of integrity and great service.
Q. How important have good employees been to your success?
A. This has been very important. My dad and I would perform consultations in the beginning of the business, but it took away over 20 hours of our time every week. I could not spend that time working on the business instead of in the business, so we needed a reliable person to replace us on the calls and get that time back. Hiring a great employee allowed us to expand and grow. I’m all for leveraging the time and skillset of others to grow a business.
Q. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
A. I stick with it until it’s proven that the idea wasn’t the right idea for the circumstances and if the idea takes away from more important ideas. I’ve learned that there are a lot of ways to grow a business, but we only have so many working hours in a day. Using my time efficiently and effectively is a daily battle.
Q. What motivates you?
A. I’m motived by the vision I have in my mind. When the days get tough, I just think about how the things I’m doing will take me a step closer to that vision.
Q. What are your ideals?
A. My primary ideal is Jesus and what He taught and did.
Q. How do you generate new ideas?
A. I generate new ideas by just being open to them. I’ve come up with many ideas just by doing regular day to day things. I thought of Convos with Heroes while taking a shower and listening to a podcast. Most of my ideas come while I’m doing things outside of working, such as getting ready in the morning, working out, having a conversation with a friend, etc.
Q. How do you define success?
A. Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal – Earl Nightingale
Q. How do you build a successful customer base?
A. Through consistent outreach and building of trust.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
A. Time freedom. This is a primary driver of being an entrepreneur. When I had a job, I had to be a certain place at a certain time, whether I had work to do or not. Although I work more now than I did when I had a job, I get to work when I want to and I am doing something that I enjoy doing.
Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
A. The most satisfying moment was probably the first person we helped get a 100% VA disability rating. The VA disability process takes time and with our program being self-paced, we can only provide the tools, but have to rely on our students to do the work and let us know the results. When that first person made it to 100%, it was confirmation of the value we are providing.
Q. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
A. The major difference is risk tolerance. Entrepreneurs have to be willing to take a risk on themselves and an idea while someone working for someone else has a level of consistency and predictability. As a business owner, I get paid last. Most people can’t accept that.
Q. What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
A. We have a Christian based culture. We establish this by praying as a team every work day and living the Christian values.
Q. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Q. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
A. I would not change anything because I learned a lot from it.
Q. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
A. It’s made my relationships better and more full. I was in a career that just did not fit my temperament. I’m a creative problem solver while accounting leaves very little room for creativity.
Q. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
A. My greatest fear is fear itself
Q. How did you decide on the location for your business?
A. I decided to have an online business because there are no limits. I work from anywhere I want.
Q. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
A. Drive + courage + creativity = success
Q. If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
A. Martin Luther King – because we are both dreamers and I can learn a lot from him.
Q. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
A. My dad
Q. What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
A. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
A. Not investing earlier in assets, such as a house and high growth stocks
Not reading more books earlier
Q. How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
A. I don’t try to prevent mistakes but seek opportunities. Damage control is all about quickly analyzing the situation and choosing the best path forward. I tend to rely on my intuition most of the time, so it’s hard to provide a clear explanation.
Q. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
A. Working out, reading and listening to good music
Q. What makes you happy?
A. Connecting with people and building great relationships.
Q. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
A. The biggest sacrifice is a consistent paycheck. Outside of that, it’s been mostly much better than working for someone else
Q. If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?