May 31, 2024

Timothy M. Jones: The Story of How a Homeless Vet Became a Business Owner

How peers helped a formerly homeless vet build a business that's helping fulfill his life's passion of preventing rape and creating safe spaces

To say Timothy M. Jones is “determined” is an understatement. He’s also resourceful, resilient, optimistic, visionary, and grateful for the people in his life who have helped him traverse a road filled with twists, turns, and some of the biggest obstacles imaginable.

Turn back the clock a decade or two and no one, including Timothy, would have believed where he’d be today.

Back then, Timothy was living in Florida, unsheltered, and with undiagnosed PTSD. A Black, gay veteran living on the streets, he had been discharged from the military under Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell after reporting a sexual assault. Mental health issues and substance abuse came along for the ride.

Timothy M. Jones speaking at an event in Washington DC.

But when he participated in a homeless veterans program with the Veterans Administration (VA), something clicked. “I saw what other people were going through. And I had a story. I knew I didn’t want to be homeless,” says Timothy. He told his story in a Speak & Write to Make Millions competition and won. Then he won a few more. And he started booking small speaking engagements.

Those speaking engagements took Timothy to where he is today: the founder and leader of Colorful Voices, a Pittsburgh-based defense contractor that also inspires audiences through motivational speaking focused on rape prevention and creating safe spaces.

Timothy’s Entrepreneurs Forever group has supported him along the way, empowering him to attempt feats that once seemed impossible. They’ve helped him articulate his business’s value proposition, which he needed for funding, and improved his confidence to continually reach for more.

“I needed to build a strong foundation for my business, and working with Entrepreneurs Forever helped me build it,” Timothy says. “I know my own challenges. I know I have to have other people involved.” This includes his peer group, his personal mentor, the VA, and LGBTQ+ business groups including Three Rivers Business Alliance.

Timothy's first book, "The Tides of Destiny," is slated for publication in June 2024. But make no mistake: his road has never been easy. For Timothy, however, it's something he knows he has to do. “I want to make sure that the next homeless veteran, non-vet, person of color or not, can say, ‘Wow, I can do it. If Timothy can do it, I can too.’”

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