This Veterans’ Week we spoke to five Operation Entrepreneur boot camp alumni about their business, what inspires them and how the skills they built in the Canadian Armed Forces help them as entrepreneurs.
Matthew van Erp served 25 years in the military. He’s now using his personal experiences and the skills he learned in the Forces on his new mission – helping people lead a healthy, wholesome life.
After going through a dark time post-service, Matthew said his physical and mental health was at a low point before he started implementing some serious life changes. He decided that he wanted to help people who are in a similar situation take control of their health. His business, Healthy Habit Mentoring, takes a multifaceted approach to improving a client’s health. Matthew draws on his experience in the Canadian Armed Forces to help change people’s personal habits in areas such as physical fitness, nutrition, and anger management.
Matthew loves the freedom and autonomy he has over his business and the role he plays in its growth and development. “It’s not dependent on someone else’s hours or vision, but my own,” said Matthew.
But being his own boss also means that all the problems are his to solve. Working with different clients who all have unique situations means Matthew is always figuring out the right approach to varying circumstances.
Problem solving and the “systemic analyzing of a situation, problem or not,” are skills that Matthew developed in the military that have been very beneficial to him as a small business owner.
“We had a saying in the Army that ‘no plan survives first contact,’ meaning that you can have the perfect plan, but once you engage the enemy, it all changes,” said Matthew. “As a small business owner, you have to be able to adjust your business plan with the market and the current local or global situation.”
Working with new clients requires problem solving to figure out the motivations behind their fitness journey. Whether that’s because of their appearance or their general health, Matthew says figuring out the client’s “why” is at the forefront of everything he does.
“I have to find out what the concern is and what it is that the person would like to change,” said Matthew. “I have to, with the client and as a team, problem solve how we can overcome these barriers and make a positive change.”
For the nutrition side of his business, Matthew says problems can quickly arise in the meal planning and preparation stage. Catering meals to each client that are healthy and suit their taste requires a creative mind.
In the face of the global pandemic, Matthew focused his business’ operations to online engagement, which included more frequent customer interaction. He says that move saved a lot of business.
“If you don’t have problem-solving skills you would be trying to force a square peg through a round hole,” said Matthew.
In August 2019, Matthew attended the Operation Entrepreneur business boot camp at the University of Regina. During the week-long intensive training, he received in-class instruction from business school faculty, participated in mentoring forums and networking events, received one-on-one coaching and worked on a plan to take his business to the next level.
For more information on Healthy Habit Mentoring, located in Edmonton, AB, visit www.healthyhabitmentoring.com/