▷ Choose a business idea? Avoid these 10 mistakes - the "War Dogs" case 2020 -

Do you have to make the right choice of your business idea? Obviously… Ideas matter. Because a good idea is the foundation of everything that will follow. You’re not going to build something that everyone doesn’t care about…

You want profitable. Your task is therefore to find a profitable idea before anything else.

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But this is only the beginning.

And you should avoid 10 very common mistakes when choosing your idea.

To do this, let’s have fun with the example of David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli.

Their story is so crazy that Hollywood made it into a movie: War Dogs.

In the mid-2000s, two Miami youths had the “good” idea of ​​selling weapons to the United States government through the Pentagon’s tender site.

The demand is significant (thanks to the wars of the little Bush in Iraq and Afghanistan).

The business is juicy, legal (well, in principle) and they make a fortune:

$ 7 million in revenue in the first year, which doesn’t stop their business from going downhill very quickly.

Why ?

Because our two entrepreneurs made 5 of the 10 mistakes that you will discover in this article. And incidentally played with fire…

The example is extreme, I grant you, but it is fun and makes an impression.

The important thing for you is that at the end of this article you will be able to answer the question:

“Is this a good business idea for me? ” which will give you much more confidence to launch your activity.

1. Choose a business idea that has nothing to do with your skills and strengths

Packouz and Diveroli error # 1:

As a result, Diveroli already knows a little bit about selling guns. And after working for his uncle in the supply of military equipment, he fled with the uncle’s client list.

On the other hand, Packouz is a massage therapist and completely virgin in the profession. A big gap that will earn him many setbacks.

But in any case, our two players have neither the experience nor the shoulders to enter such a dangerous environment without struggling and leaving feathers there.

For this error, I will not go through 4 paths:

Starting a business is already quite an adventure.

that’s why you have to make your life easier by using your current skills and experience to get started.

Many budding entrepreneurs make the mistake of throwing away what they have learned in the trash to get into areas they have no control over.

The trend is as follows:

  • Your job is boring and tiring you;
  • You come across an article or podcast that tells you about a promising idea;
  • And you’re embarking on a field for which you have no idea.

Result: you invest in learning all new skills while training in business at the same time.

It’s too much work for a start! Reason for most small business failure.

Certainly, I’m not telling you to duplicate exactly what you’re doing in your current job, but don’t throw it all away.

Know how to orient your search for ideas based on the skills you already have. Because if you have none for the business you decide to start, it will take too much effort and you will eventually get discouraged.

You don’t have to be an expert either. But a minimum of knowledge will give you a huge boost. And the more you get in your business, the faster you will be successful in your business.

2. Choose a business idea that doesn’t interest anyone

Here, no error for Packouz and Diveroli:

In order not to break anti-trust law during its wars, the Bush administration is opening its military supply market to small independent traders.

The list of products is on the Pentagon website. Diveroli identifies the request, places an order with the manufacturers and resells them to the US army, which needs them in the field.

He is not going to sell sand in the Iraqi desert knowing the Beretta pistols go there like hotcakes.

The biggest goal of a business (apart from making a lot of money of course) is to bring something that people really need.

So what can you do to ensure the viability of your idea?

By simply asking the people concerned if they are interested. Nothing could be easier to tell if they want to use your service or product.

It sounds stupid like that. But this is the most common mistake entrepreneurs make.

They think of an idea, get married, work for months to start their business and then … Nothing.

Of course, they never went to their market.

No need ! Their idea is so great.

I went there too. And I admit that I shed a little tear by revealing it to you.

I guarantee you that today I always ask the right people before I build anything. Not to my father or my best friend (especially not), but to 30, even 100 people and not just any.

But let’s keep it simple: start by getting relevant answers from 10 people. Just be sure you’re talking to the good guys. Which brings us to the next error …

3. Choose a business idea without knowing your target client enough

No mistake for Packouz and Diveroli. Well almost…

Their only client is the United States Department of Defense. And they are well aware of its problem: circumventing the antitrust law which prohibits the monopoly of the arms trade by using independent sellers.

David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli
The real Packouz and Diveroli delighted to satisfy their client

However, when they sold expired Kalashnikov ammunition to the state, they played tricks with too big a fish. To believe that they did not know their target client so well … But that does not concern you. Because you are not there to pigeonhole your customers, however small they may be.

However, if you don’t know your target client, how do you plan to solve one of their problems?

Keep this important thing in mind:

It is by understanding your prospects deeply that you will find a truly profitable business idea.

Because by knowing them intimately, you target their problem and are able to express it much better than they will ever do. So :

  • You formulate your offer perfectly with their own words;
  • And you give them exactly what they want.

Impossible ? Think again.

There is a very simple technique to achieve this:

  • Listen to the people around you;
  • Listen to their problems;
  • And listen to them again.

Something that we, poor humans, find it very difficult to do on a daily basis.

Stephen Covey puts it perfectly:

“Most people don’t listen with the intention of understanding; they listen with the intention of responding. “

And if you fail to ask the right questions during your interactions, it is very likely that you are focused more on your answers than on listening to your prospects.

Also, keep in mind that people are often too busy with their lives to express the thing that annoys them at the time.

For them, it’s just something that pisses them off sporadically. And then they forget.

Normal, they didn’t spend weeks figuring out their problem. While you do! Finally, if you have listened and understood them well.

You will have taken the time to synthesize all their desires and frustrations to the point of explaining their problem more clearly than they do it themselves.

And when you present your solution to them, they will say to themselves:

“But that’s exactly what I need! “

At this point in the article, you may be saying to yourself:

“It’s all very nice, but without practice, you might as well piss in a violin. “

Not false…

This is why I provide my blog readers with a step-by-step system for find your profitable business idea.

7 lessons with activity PDFs designed for you to do the right things.

If you want to find an idea that can lead you to a profitable business, click on the orange button to get the course:

Let yourself be guided through the exercises and at the end, you will have a validated idea that sells.

This course starts with new trends to shorten your path to success so take advantage of it.

4. Choose a business idea that doesn’t stand out enough

Again, Packouz and Diveroli make no mistake:

While most of the orders come from large arms companies, Diveroli also discovers much smaller quantities of weapons to be filled.

“Let’s collect the crumbs, because these crumbs are already worth a bunch of dollars!” “

By nesting their offer, our entrepreneurs reach a smaller market, but quite profitable for both of them. While standing out from the rest of the big sellers who abandon these small contracts.

From the moment you solve a real problem, your business idea reaches a large number of interested people. And you inevitably find yourself in a well-established market place.

So you run into competition.

And it’s not a bad thing, quite the contrary! This means that you are certainly in a good niche.

But who says “competition” says “stand out”.

So you have to give your potential customers good reasons to choose you over another.

How to stand out?

By nestling your offer.

Be more specific, refine your market. Talk to a smaller number of people by getting a very clear idea of ​​what they’re looking for.

Don’t worry about reaching fewer people as long as “less” is “enough” to make enough money with your idea.

The main thing is that once again your customers say to themselves:

“This is exactly what I’m looking for! “

For example, you are not going to sell any web writing service to everyone. Instead, sell your sales page writing services specializing in health.

This is what “nesting” means.

5. Choose a business idea that you are unable to assume

Packouz and Diveroli error # 2 (their biggest mistake):

Strengthened by their first successes and galvanized by the daily consumption of cocaine, our friends are crazy about greatness.

They won a contract estimated at more than $ 300 million to supply Afghan troops with ammunition for AK47. Suffice to say that the number of balls is astronomical!

To ensure the contract, they must manage insane logistics:

  • Find ammunition in Albanian stocks abandoned by the USSR;
  • Provide trucks and transport to Afghanistan;
  • Negotiate on the spot with traffickers of all stripes, etc.

Suffice to say that for two guys from Miami who only worked as intermediaries with an internet connection and a mobile phone, the task is titanic.

And to make matters worse, they are tricked into buying Chinese-made bullets banned for sale by American law … and most of which are out of date. Hard.

One of their stocks of balls from 1966!

In short, you should not have your eyes bigger than your stomach when you start for the first time.

Too many start-up entrepreneurs start from an idea that is too complex to succeed in realizing it.

You are not going to build a SaaS or an Airbnb style matchmaking platform when you start.

You have to learn to walk before you run. So start small.

that’s why I always recommend that a novice start by selling their services before creating a product. that I think is reserved for experienced entrepreneurs.

When I say “experienced”, I mean those who have “achieved results” and not just “years of experience”.

Freelancing is the easiest way to get your hands on the business and the quickest way to earn your first income.

So, you use your skills to sell your services without spending months building a product. Especially since this implies a much more sophisticated marketing strategy.

Going into something too complex will make you encounter so many obstacles that you might give up.

So you have to choose a business idea that you can take on in terms of time and capacity.

Never forget that a project always takes longer than you imagine.

So get on with creating something that solves a small problem perfectly at the outset, and you’ll have plenty of time to grow it later or tackle more complex business ideas.

6. Choose a business idea that you don’t want to manage for the long term

Packouz and Diveroli error 3:

And more specifically from Packouz. The guy is not particularly attracted to weapons, preferring musical instruments.

Diveroli lures him simply by letting him sparkle a life more thrilling than a massage therapist and with a lot of money at stake.

Packouz has just had a baby girl and is trying to compartmentalize her controversial activity with her family life. But between repeated trips, unhealthy associates and muddles with the government, that is to say that it is mission impossible.

Seizing an opportunity can be a good thing.

But the goal is not to throw you on an idea, full of enthusiasm, to tell you months later:

“I don’t like what I do at all. “

So you have to think about your business with a minimum long term in mind.

You don’t want to say to yourself finally:

  • It takes way too much work;
  • I have too many repetitive tasks;
  • It does not correspond to my ethics and my values;
  • I don’t even like what I sell;
  • I have to be awake at night and my girl can’t stand it anymore;
  • I hate the type of clients I work with.

In short !

Ask yourself beforehand:

“If I succeed, what will my business look like in a few years? “

“How should I manage such a business?

Thanks to this vision of the future, you will avoid investing in a business totally incompatible with the life you wish to lead.

Do you plan to travel 6 months a year? Do not get into a job that requires a local presence. Because you will have found your customers there, you will have made a name for yourself and you will have to stay in your region for the next few years to ensure your business.

It’s a bit like a romantic relationship:

You fall in love. You settle down with your sweetheart. You live with love and fresh water for the first few months without thinking about the future… and after?

Sometimes we don’t think about it enough and we live with our half, which is only half of us.

That too I experienced. And it cost me 7 years!

It’s exactly the same principle with your business ideas.

Think about it seriously.

Starting today, you will still be there in the next 5 years.

So, ask yourself 5 minutes and take stock:

“What will my business look like in 5 years (number of employees, online or local, which customers, which means of communication, etc.)? “

7. Choose a business idea because it seems to be the simplest of all

Packouz and Diveroli error 4:

At the outset, the idea seemed childish: to act as the intermediary between the demand and the supply of military gear via a website. A connected computer and two cellphones are enough to garner millions.

But that’s not counting (among other things) on logistical problems due to international relations.

Our friends sign to deliver a cargo from Beretta to Baghdad. Lack of luck, Italy bans exports to countries at war. The stock of pistols ends up blocked in Jordan, forcing them to leave Miami to recover the weapons and smuggle them across the border.

Office-Amman-improvised film-war dogs
Amman’s offices seem less accessible than those in Miami …

One of the many adventures that will make their business far more complex and dangerous than they imagined.

Have you ever known a friend who felt entrepreneurial at heart because he just went from one idea to another?

One evening, he comes across “The 4 hour week of Tim Ferris” and he says to himself:

“But it’s too simple actually! “

The next day, he gets you the training “to get rich in 3 months”.

And the next day, he tells you that he is going to start a business that he discovered in an entrepreneur’s magazine assuring him that it is the idea of ​​the century (achievable in 3 weeks).


There is no easy business.

Where it would be known and everyone would be rich.

So, if you plan to get started with the minimum of effort, beware of disillusionment.

Because lured by the apparent simplicity of a business boasted in a list, the day you launch it, you risk fighting like a donkey for lack of preparation.

Of course, nothing prevents you from finding your business idea in a list.

I have created several myself:

These lists are great sources of inspiration.

But it remains to be seen whether they are so simple to implement at your level. So use it, but remain skeptical about their ease of execution.

There is no shortcut in business. And if you think of choosing an idea because it seems easy to carry out, you may not be ready for your activity.

8. Choose a business idea that your potential customers are not ready to pay

This time, no Packouz and Diveroli error:

The official documents of their company AEY prove it: between 2004 and 2008, the sum of the contracts they obtained is estimated at more than a third of a billion dollars!

Diveroli made no secret of it, even claiming that it made $ 200 million in sales each year.

War is one of the biggest generators of money, everyone knows that. The customers of this vast market are ready to shell out huge sums to impose their laws on their neighbors.

And the American army always has “a little” of cash in stock to provide itself with the means …

It is unfortunate, but it is so.

When researching your profitable idea, one of the crucial questions you need to ask yourself is:

“Will my potential customers be ready to pay for my solution? “

Understand that even when your activity meets a need, if your target is not ready to pay for your product or service, you will fail.

Your client must therefore feel the insatiable need to solve their problem to be ready to pay you no matter what, even at a high price.

So make sure you make sure of it upstream.

Some problems and frustrations are not important enough to make a profitable business. And many people will only accept the solution if it is free.

Difficult to know in advance if people will pay or not. Reason why a business idea is never 100% sure.

But there are still some techniques that allow you to make sure of it reasonably:

  • Find evidence that people are already paying for similar solutions;
  • Talk to your prospects to find out if they are willing to pay.

But beware ! No matter how much they say they will, it is by no means a guarantee.

The most effective method therefore remains to anticipate your idea (Lean Start-up principle).

The goal is to minimize your risk by selling your product before you have (fully) built it.

You simply create a “minimum viable product”: the smallest possible product that you sell beforehand to validate your business idea.

This is how I created my paid online course:

Instead of spending 6 months and thousands of euros on the creation of a site and videos at the risk of making only a few sales, I simply created my courses in PDF.

Then I offered to send them by email to my prospects for a mini price in return for their feedback.

The pilot worked well and I had enough paying customers to launch my training site with videos.

If you want to know this method in detail to apply it, download my free guide: How to build a profitable online business.

9. Choose a business idea that you cannot explain easily

In the case of Packouz and Diveroli, it couldn’t be simpler:

“I sell military gear to the Ministry of Defense. “

On the business side, it’s all good. Finally, if we ignore the ethical side.

Because if you have to explain to your pacifist spouse that you are selling weapons of war, the task may actually be a little more complicated … a situation in which Packouz quickly found himself.

, But I bet you won’t get into this kind of business.

If you can’t explain your idea in a simple way, chances are you haven’t clearly identified the problem or the group of people you’re addressing.

This does not mean that your idea is bad. But you may not be specific enough yet.

So make sure you have:

  • Unearthed a very real need or problem;
  • And correctly identify your target client.

This is how you will create a viable solution to fix it.

And don’t worry if it’s still difficult to describe it precisely. Just grab more info and gain experience to refine it over time.

As long as you have your problem and your target, you are on the right track.

Try to formulate your solution in the simplest way possible.

Your language should be short, clear and convincing.

Little tip: think of the 5 seconds that people spend reading a tweet and try to explain your idea in 140 characters.

Diveroli tried hard to sell his biography.

This principle applies as much to your prospects as to your future employees, investors and partners.

Anyone who comes into contact with you must understand what you are offering in a flash.

So, practice.

10. Choose a business idea that you don’t care enough about

It’s hard to know how much importance Packouz and Diveroli attached to theirs. But I imagine that it was above all the greed that motivated them.

It is often said that to be successful in a business, we must feel invested in a mission. And when I hear Diveroli say:

“God bless America of Dick Cheney! “

I doubt that he chose his business idea to save the widow and the orphan, or even that he did so to help the US in its so-called export of democracy.

In addition to money, this business allows him above all to satisfy his instincts of gifted swindler and unscrupulous manipulator.

As for Packouz, he does not hesitate to leave the adventure as soon as he feels overwhelmed by events.

If you don’t attach enough importance to your idea, your will to work on it will inevitably diminish over time. Even more so during difficult times (and there will always be).

Are you passionate about a business idea?

It’s fine, but …

Passion does not mean profit.

And what will happen in 6, 12 or 24 months?

Passion is fleeting. And (for example) you don’t have to be passionate about writing sales pages to feel involved in this activity.

As long as writing is one of your areas of interest and you care enough about your customers’ problem or the solution you offer, you start on a solid foundation.

And if you make your business a mission, it’s even better.

For my part, I attach great importance to helping people start their own business to regain their independence through their work.

Because I sincerely think that the world would be much better if we had more creative entrepreneurs and artists putting their work to work for their personal vision.

This is what motivates me the most.

You must therefore feel sufficiently involved in your activity to ensure your work over the long term and give yourself every chance of staying the course, even during difficult times.

And now…

Can you answer the fateful question:

“Is this a good business idea for me? “

Now you know that, beyond its viability, your idea must match you and fulfill conditions specific to your mentality to obtain the hoped-for impact.

The case of our “War Dogs” illustrates this very well.

Satisfying a real demand, knowing their target client and standing out from the competition to come up with a profitable business idea was not enough for them.

Because they set their sights on an idea:

  • Who had nothing to do with their skills and strengths;
  • That they weren’t able to assume;
  • That they didn’t want to manage for the long term;
  • Which was not as simple as it seemed;
  • And to which they did not attach enough importance …

And combined with their lack of experience, these mistakes were fatal.

Certainly, as I told you at the beginning, they also played with fire. Their fraudulent practices and crooked relationships plunged them into a legal hell that they quickly regretted.


4 years in prison for Efraim Diveroli.

And only a few months of detention for David Packouz. With the added bonus of a short stay in the trunk of an Albanian car and a beating in an abandoned warehouse (happy not to have been shot in the head).

But I imagine that you will be more reasonable in choosing your business idea.

Anyway, if you want to find your idea profitable, do not forget to take my course by clicking on the image “FREE COURSE” which is in point 3 of this article.

You will benefit from 7 lessons and a series of exercises to follow step by step which will make you take the right direction from the start.

Finally, know that your idea is only the first step towards your profitable business.

The rest is a matter of execution and it is a difficult part.

So put the package on a solid idea to make your task as easy as possible by avoiding these 10 errors upstream.

Because like all of us, you will do others when building your business. The main thing will be to correct the shot each time (no pun intended). 😉

Haydée Bouscasse