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FedEx

How many Veteran entrepreneurs are looking for that next big product, revolutionary business model or improved production plan? Many great innovators often take little credit for the originality of their ideas. They often allege that idea already existed and was in practice elsewhere. And that all they did was take that idea and apply it to a new field. Veteran entrepreneurs might want to look into their past, at their military experience, in order to get ideas that could benefit their futures in business.

It is amazing how great business ideas are born. Many Veteran entrepreneurs have found success by taking practices, standards and ideologies from their military service and applying them to their civilian companies. One of the best examples of this can be found in the business plan of Veteran Entrepreneur Fred Smith.

Smith served three years as an officer in the Marine Corps, from 1966-1969. During his time as a platoon leader, company commander and Forward Air Controller, Smith flew with pilots in over 200 combat missions, low and slow, so that Smith could observe enemy targets. Aside from his Silver Star, Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, Smith states that his two tours in Vietnam resulted in gaining invaluable knowledge that he later applied to what became the global courier service FedEx.

“Everything that went into FedEx that made the business what it is today relates to what I learned in the Marine Corps, and I’ve always been grateful for that education and for those I’ve served with,” Smith said.

Smith claims that his military experience gave him the foundation for the leadership standards and organizational structure for his company. Smith said that the leadership examples set for him in the Marine Corps prompted him to design a structure for his business, where the components of his company could all work collaboratively, but also function independently if need be. FedEx is famous for promoting from within and building leaders.

“The vast majority of FedEx leaders today started out as pickup or delivery people, or washing airplanes,” Smith said.

Smith also used lessons learned in the military when he revolutionized the industry of parcel delivery. Smith started Federal Express (would later become FedEx) in 1971. Using the example of efficiency that he saw in the military, Smith designed the well-coordinated air-ground operations delivery service that has made FedEx famous.

For any Veteran entrepreneur who is trying to dream up that next great idea, be sure that you remember your experiences in uniform. Because maybe your idea isn’t a dream– maybe it’s something you’ve done a thousand times before, in uniform.

Government Contracts

Obtaining government contracts can significantly increase a small business’ chance of success. The U.S. government awards close to $500 billion to buy goods and services each year. More than $100 billion of those contracts are designated for small businesses. Small business owners would be wise to capitalize on the government’s need for contracting them. However, contracting with the government is much different than selling to the private sector.

There are resources for small business owners who wish to locate and obtain government contracts. Federal Business Opportunities, also known as FedBizOpps.Gov, is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Their website, www.fbo.gov contains a wealth of information. The main function of the site is to allow government “Buyers/Engineers” to post, manage and award contract listings, and allow vendors/small business owners to search, view and retrieve the contract listings. Hundreds of opportunities appear on the site daily. There are currently more than 22,100 contract opportunities posted.

The FedBizOpps site also includes business training information and site user guides. The site posts information about events, news and changes in policy. Buyers and vendors need to set up a user account to access the site.

Another valuable resource that small business owners looking to obtain government contracts should utilize is the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA works with federal agencies to ensure that at least 23% of government contracts are awarded to small businesses. The SBA’s website, www.sba.gov offers small business owners dozens of courses in government contracting. Each course is online and self-paced. These courses are free to use, but each course requires users to complete a registration form. The courses can be found on the website’s, Government Contracting Classroom portal.

The ability to obtain government contracts can make or break a company. Armed with the right tools, any small business can be awarded valuable government contracts. Make sure that your business is properly equipped to succeed.

Free On Demand Training for firms applying for the 8(a) Business Development Program

Stover & Associates, Inc. under contract SBAHQ-13-C-0025 with the Small Business Administration, offers Free On Demand training for firms prepar-ing for or engaged in the application process for the 8(a) Business Develop-ment Program. This training requires approximately one hour to complete and can be interrupted and resumed at a later time. It is available 24 hours per day so you can learn on your schedule.

Register at: http://stoverteam.adobeconnect.com/applicationtrng/event/registration.html

For Information Contact: Phyllis Embree or Chris Strudthoff, sbaworkshops@stoverteam.com or call 770-423-9888

SBA Show Savings on Fees Waived on Small Business Loans

Small businesses start with passion and ideas. But they need funding to get off the ground. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has been a primary resource used by Veterans and civilians for obtaining loans to fund their startups and existing businesses. While the SBA doesn’t directly loan money to business owners, the SBA does guarantee loans made by participating lending institutions.

The basic program utilized by the SBA for small businesses is the 7(a) loan. The 7(a) loan is the most utilized loan by the SBA because it can be used for a multitude of business purposes. Additionally, it is more easily approved, a plus for business owners who may otherwise have difficulties procuring loans directly from lenders. Small business owners, especially those who are just starting their companies, may not have the cash flow that independent lenders require. The SBA serves to provide lenders with an increased guarantee against a defaulted loan. The 7(a) loans are capped at a maximum of $2 million.

In an effort to promote entrepreneurship, the SBA has also taken the initiative to waive fees on smaller loans. On loans under $150,000 guaranteed through the SBA after October 1, 2013, the fees have been set at 0%.

The SBA recently announced that small business borrowers who have or will receive SBA 7(a) guaranteed loans of $150,000 or less during Fiscal Year 2014 (October 1, 2013 – September 30, 2014) will have saved more than $6.3 million. The SBA contends that this number includes fees that were eliminated on the agency’s smallest loans, including approximately $142,000 in savings to 179 borrowers in the Santa Ana, CA District.

The waived fees are part of the SBA’s initiative to make it more cost effective to originate smaller loans.  In addition to the fees that borrowers typically pay based on the amount guaranteed by the government, the ongoing monthly fee paid by SBA lenders will be eliminated for the entire life of 7(a) loans of $150,000 or less made while the initiative is in effect.

The SBA still includes fees on loans greater than $150, 000. On any loan greater than $150,000 with a maturity of one year or shorter, the fee is 0.25 % of the guaranteed portion of the loan. On loans with maturities of more than one year, the fee is 3% of the SBA-guaranteed portion on loans of $150,000 to $700,000, and 3.5 % on loans of more than $700,000. There is also an additional fee of 0.25 % on any guaranteed portion of more than $1 million.

The SBA believes that fees collected from larger loans are expected to offset any losses sustained from the smaller loans.

To participate in the 7(a) Loan Program, a lender must meet requirements that are indicated in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Active duty military, Veterans and any civilian interested in starting a small business should utilize the SBA’s website, www.sba.gov as a valuable resource.

HCC

In the military, new personnel are often trained by following the example of those who came before them. Competent corporals, sergeants and petty officers are usually paired with new privates, airmen and seaman to show them how things are done. Once these military members complete their service, they are often left to their own devices and forced to find their own way. Many new Veterans wish they had a mentor to show them how things are done in the civilian world. For Veterans wishing to venture into small business ownership, your experienced comrades are making themselves available to you–– to learn from their battle-hardened example in Veteran entrepreneurship.

Honor Courage Commitment (HCC) is a non-profit organization based out of Dallas, Texas that “recruits, educates, mentors, and guides high caliber military Veterans into becoming socially responsible entrepreneurs and community leaders.” HCC was started in 2011 and provides free training, education and mentorship for Veteran entrepreneurs.

HCC’s programs function with a focus on education, entrepreneurship, social responsibility through community service, health and fitness, and job placement. The organization partners with other entrepreneurs, organizations and companies to provide Veteran entrepreneurs with expert guidance and training for starting and running their own business.

Honor Courage Commitment was founded by Andrew Nguyen. Nguyen is a Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, where he was a staff sergeant. After his completion of active duty in 2006, Nguyen obtained a Bachelor’s degree in  Business Administration and Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship, before attending an entrepreneurship development program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 2008, Nguyen launched his own company, WSI Search, a digital marketing and web development firm.

Nguyen and his company found success, despite launching right at the start of a major economic downturn in the country. The former staff sergeant accredits much of his success to following the Navy and Marine Corps’ core values of “Honor, Courage and Commitment.”

According to the history portal on HCC’s website, Nguyen believes that, “America is fighting a domestic war called ‘unemployment,’ and HCC’s mission is to combat that war by creating veteran entrepreneurs who, through the growth of small businesses, will create more job opportunities.  More veteran entrepreneurs = more veteran friendly jobs = less veterans filing for unemployment benefits = less wasted tax dollars for America.”

The HCC organization recruits nationally. But Veterans who use this incubator (company who promotes entrepreneurial startups) can ultimately find themselves starting businesses or working jobs anywhere in the country.

Veterans interested in entrepreneurships should look into HCC as a possible resource. Veteran entrepreneurs are also encouraged to check out https://vamboa.org/

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