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By Debbie Gregory.

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Part 1 of 3

 

We have gathered some interesting and awesome statistics from the US Census about Veteran Owned Businesses to share in this three-part series of articles.  See what industries, job functions, business types, state concentrations are more likely to be filled with veterans and information on the characteristics of veterans starting and running these businesses.

 

Veteran-Owned Businesses – Top Level Stats per 2012 Census:

  • 52 million businesses were majority-owned by veterans.
  • Of this total, 442,485 were employers, and 2.08 million were non-employers.
  • Veteran-owned firms had receipts of $1.14 trillion, employed 5.03 million people, and had annual payroll of $195 billion.
  • Veteran-owned firms represented 9.1 percent of all U.S. firms.
  • 3 percent of all owners of SBO-respondent firms were veterans.
  • 3 percent of all respondent veteran owners had service-connected disabilities.
  • Veteran-owned employer firms.
  • 5 percent of all veteran-owned firms were employer firms, slightly lower than the 19.6 percent share of employers among all firms.
  • Veteran-owned employers had receipts of $1.049 trillion. They accounted for 91.9 percent of the receipts of all veteran-owned firms. Veteran-owned firms without employees.
  • 5 percent of all veteran businesses were non-employers, slightly higher than the non-employer share of all firms, 80.4 percent.
  • Veteran non-employers had receipts of $92.2 billion, or 8.1 percent of the receipts of all veteran-owned businesses.

 

Distribution by industry: Top six industries of Veteran Owned Businesses:

  • Professional, scientific, and technical services (16.6 percent of all veteran-owned firms),
  • Construction (13.2 percent),
  • Other services (11.8 percent),
  • Real estate (8.6 percent),
  • Retail trade (8.1 percent), and
  • Administrative and support services (8.0 percent).

 

Concentration Within Industries:

Overall, 9.1 percent of all U.S. businesses were Veteran Owned but this percentage varied by industry, ranging from 12.9 percent in the mining, quarrying, oil and gas group to a low of 5.7 percent in the accommodation and food services industry.

 

Other industries with higher-than-average veteran ownership included:

  • Finance and insurance (12.8 percent);
  • Transportation and warehousing (12.1 percent);
  • Construction (11.4 percent);
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing (11.3 percent);
  • Utilities (10.9 percent);
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services (10.8 percent); and
  • Manufacturing (10.2 percent).

 

Top industries in terms of sales:

There are five industry groups that accounted for 71.5 percent of all Veteran Owned firm sales and they are:

  • Wholesale trade (22.9 percent),
  • Retail trade (19.5 percent),
  • Manufacturing (12.3 percent),
  • Construction (10.1 percent), and
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services (7.0 percent).

 

Concentration of Sales within Industries:

Veteran Owned firms accounted for 3.4 percent of all U.S.firm sales. Their share varied by industry, ranging from a high of 7.7 percent in construction to a low of 0.7 percent in the utilities group.

 

Other Sectors with Higher-than-Average Veteran Shares of Sales:

  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing (7.1 percent);
  • Other services (6.9 percent);
  • Real estate and rental/leasing (5.7 percent);
  • Retail trade (5.2 percent);
  • Transportation and warehousing (4.9 percent);
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services (4.7 percent); and
  • Accommodation and food services (4.7 percent).

 

Home-Based Businesses:

A larger share of veteran Owned Businesses than all U.S. firms reported that they were home-based, 57.0 percent compared with 52.2 percent.

 

Franchised Businesses:

  • The percent of veteran-owned businesses operated as franchises was somewhat lower than that for all firms, 2.1 percent versus 2.9 percent.
  • Among veteran Owned employer firms, 4.2 percent were franchises, compared with 5.3 percent for all firms.
  • The two most important industries for veteran Owned franchises were accommodations and food services (15.5 percent of all veteran franchise operations) and retail trade (4.7 percent).

 

Exporting and E-commerce activity:

While most veteran Owned firms reported no exporting or E-commerce sales, they differed only slightly from all firms. 93.5 percent reported no export sales, compared with 91.3 percent of all firms, and 92.8 percent reported no e-commerce sales, versus 91.0 percent for all firms.

 

Seasonal and Part-Tme Operation:

Veteran Owned firms had profiles like all firms with respect to seasonal and part-time operations. Many more non-employers than employers were seasonal or part-time. Among all respondent Veteran Owned firms, 48.0 percent were in none of the seasonal or part-time categories included in the survey, as were 77.6 percent of employers, but only 40 percent of non-employers.

 

Sources of Startup or Acquisition Capital:

The largest source of capital for business startup or acquisition was personal or family savings: 59.4 percent for Veteran Owned firms and 57.3 percent for all firms. Business loans from banks or other commercial lenders were used by 7.8 percent of Veteran Owned firms and 7.5 percent of all firms, while personal credit cards were reported by 7.5 percent of veteran-owned firms and 7.6 percent of all firms.

 

Amount of Startup or Acquisition Capital:

Finance patterns were like those of all businesses. About one-quarter of all businesses reported that they did not need any capital to start up or acquire their business (23.7 percent of Veteran Owned Businesses and 24.8 percent of all firms). Among firms that used capital, the share using less than $5,000 was 34.1 percent for Veteran Owned firms and 31.6 percent for all firms. The share using less than $25,000 was 50.8 percent for Veteran Owned firms compared with 46.9 percent for all firms.

 

Sources of Expansion Capital:

Capital for 20.8 percent of Veteran Owned firms and 21.9 percent of all firms. Business profits and/or assets were used by 5.5 percent of Veteran Owned firms and 5.7 percent of all firms. Personal and business credit cards were used by 4.5 percent of veteran-owned businesses and 4.9 percent of all firms.

 

Major Customers:

Veteran Owned Businesses reported that their major customers were similar to those of businesses in general. (Major customers are those who account for 10 percent or more of a firm’s sales.)

 

  • A slightly lower percent of Veteran Owned Businesses’ major customers were individuals, 67.6 percent, compared with 72.2 percent for all firms.
  • Other firms and government accounted for a slightly greater share of veteran owned businesses’ major customers. Other firms were major customers of 37.9 percent of veteran-owned businesses, compared with 34.0 percent for all firms.

 

Veteran Owned Businesses rock and represent a significant portion of the US economy.

Amazing Veterans Who Have Change Business

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Ever since World War II, military veterans have consistently created and innovated businesses in America. Veterans are generally quite good at looking at the world, figuring out what is missing from it, and learning to create those solutions. Veterans are responsible for brands such as FedEX, Nike, and GoDaddy. New technology companies such as Sybase, Skybox Imaging, Ustream, RedOwl, Rhumbix and RideScout have also been created and are run by veterans.

 

Some remarkable veterans who saw needs and created the frameworks, movements, networks, and methodologies that changed the way people think and currently do business:

 

1.) Angel Investor – Will Bunker

In 1990 Will, a former Marine, built one of the largest dating sites in existence, which later became Match.com. Recently he co-founded GrowthX to fund startups and the GrowthX Academy to help people learn the skills to be better salespeople, growth marketers, and UX designers.

 

2.) Athos – Don Faul, CEO

Don, a former Marine, is a current leader in smart performance apparel that monitors your biosignals. Prior to his involvement with Athos he led Facebook’s online operations, and was COO of Pinterest.

 

3.) CrossLead – David Silverman, Founder and CEO

David was a Navy Seal and createad CrossLead to help companies leverage real-time data to better understand their networks and build better teams of people.

 

4.) Esurance – Chuck Wallace, Co-Founder

Wallace, a former Airman, was a key player on the teams that created Automatic, Ustream.TV, and USell.   He then came up with a new way to sell insurance and started Esurance, which quickly became one of the fastest growing insurance companies in the US.

 

5.) Lean Startup Movement – Steve Blank, Creator

Blank is a former Air Force mechanic turned entrepreneur and is known as the “Godfather of Silicon Valley” for his role authoring innovative books in the Lean Startup movement, which have been implemented by millions of startups worldwide.

 

6.) Maker Movement Pioneer – Mark Hatch

Hatch is a former Special Forces leader who currently runs the Green Beret network on LinkedIn, he is a partner at Network Society Ventures and is an author. He helped pioneer the Maker Movement and through his works he continues to help future makers and tinkerers.

 

7.) Social Media Maven – Koka Sexton

Sexton is a former Army officer who is one of the world’s leading minds in social media. Sexton used to head LinkedIN’s social media department, created Social Selling Labs to provide sales resources, and is currently working for the most-used social media management tool – Hootsuite.

 

8.) Startup List – Nick Frost, Creator

Frost is a Navy veteran who created Startup List in his bunk in Iraq. He currently works as a curator at the Mattermark Daily newsletter.

 

9.) StreetShares – Mark Rockefeller, Co-Founder

Rockefeller, a former Air Force officer co-founded StreetShares and a created a new way to match borrowers with investors. Recently the company added Veteran Business Bonds to their offerings to better support veteran businesses.

 

10.) The Lean Product Playbook – Dan Olsen, Author

Olsen, a former Naval Officer, has been a leader in Silicon Valley for over 20 years. His experiences working on nuclear submarine designs led him to write a practical step-by-step book for lean startups that is used by thousands of entrepreneurs each year.

 

11.) VC Trailblazers – Pitch Johnson and Bill Draper

Johnson (Air Force) and Draper (Army) were some of the venture capitalists on the West Coast back in the early 1960s. They created Asset Management Ventures and Sutter Hill Ventures and through these companies they have funded a staggering number of other companies.

Tips for Veterans Starting a Business

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Veterans face unique challenges when they return home from active duty.  They are often way behind on the political and cultural events happening back home.  Additionally, many return from incredibly stressful and violent situations overseas which can cause debilitating injuries and emotional wounds that may not ever fully heal. They also need to find a job or start a business to support themselves and their families.

 

Tips For Servicemembers Starting a Business:

 

1.) Have Confidence in Yourself and Plan Ahead

As an entrepreneur, you need to have confidence in your own ability and skills. As a veteran, stepping into an entrepreneur role is simply an extension of everything you have learned from your time in the service. You have already learned when to pivot from one thing to the next, how to handle unknowns, how to deal with pressure, and sacrifice, how to focus and complete the mission and teamwork. Though in the business world there is generally a lot less on the line, you can still benefit from your experiences dealing with unpredictable unknowns. You simply need to use some creativity to transition your thinking from military to business.

 

2.) Embrace and Use Your Military Training

For many the transition to civilian life after the military can be rather unsettling and unnerving. Embrace your military past.  You have been instilled with phenomenal skills of adaptation, the ability to thrive under pressure, and how to use that pressure to perform better and use it as a strength. Those exact skills are a big reason why many veterans become such good entrepreneurs. You have had much worse tossed at you in the military than you will face in the business world.  Remind yourself of that and that you were able to persevere.

 

3.) Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses. Following your passion is a nice thought but often does not translate into a lucrative business. Find out exactly what you are good at and where you excel and then identify something in the market that can be improved on or a new product that would benefit your market.

 

4.) Work with Other Companies That Share Your Vision

Success is easier when you work with others who share your vision. Once you have your own mission statement finished laying out your personal and business goals, core values, and passions, take the time to visit other entrepreneurial companies that fit your vision and values and offer to work with them. The companies you visit do not need to do exactly what you to do or even be in the same market as your company; they just need to share your values. This type of collaboration helps both of your companies by leveraging the experiences and strengths that you both bring to the table.

 

5.) Understand and Plan for the Costs Associated with Starting a Business

One of the most important things to think about when starting a new business is how much it will cost to get the business up and running. Write out your plan and your expected expenses and then multiply your expected startup costs by two or three (depending on the type of business you are starting). Good financial planning is key to long term business success. Give yourself the best possible start by saving or otherwise acquiring sufficient financial resources before you begin your new business.

 

 

Starting a new business is challenging for everyone and can be even more challenging for a veteran. However, with good planning, confidence, collaboration, and support you will succeed.

12 Ways to Improve Your Business Cash Flow

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Managing your business cash flow can be challenging but it is incredibly important to the success of your business.

 

Below are 12 easy ways to help you improve your cash flow:

 

1.) Put It All In Writing

Make sure that all your business documents, customer agreements, and invoices clearly set out your payment terms, expectations, due dates, etc. Never leave any important items ambiguous.

 

2.) Send Invoices Immediately

People tend to pay once they have an invoice in hand, never make them wait.

 

3.) Include a Specific Due Date

It is very important to make your expectations as clear as possible. Simply stating “due upon receipt” is not enough. Add a clear due date or time frame (such as “payment due within 30 days of the bill date”).

 

4.) Offer an Incentive for Quick Payment

People love getting things for free. If you can offer them some sort of incentive for paying early, they will be more motivated to do so. For example you could give them a small discount for paying within a week of invoicing.

 

5.) Add a Late fee

Adding a fee for being late with payment tends to motivate most to get the bill paid quickly. Without a late fee, some people may put off paying you for months.

 

6.) Put together a Payment Plan

Allowing people to pay off large bills over time allows them to better budget for the expense and makes it easier for them to pay the bill.

 

7.) Use Electronic Billing or Electronic Funds Acceptance

Using electronic billing allows you to get the invoice to the customer very quickly as well as saving you money on postage costs. Accepting electronic payments works the same way.   It is fast and cost effective. You want to make sure that you accept payment in a variety of ways to make it easier for people to pay you.

 

8.) Sell your Invoices

If you need cash fast, there are services out there that will pay 90-99% of your original invoice amount upfront for a small fee.  Make sure they are reputable and do not harass your clients.

 

9.) Hold off paying your own bills

While you wait for your own clients to pay you, hold off on paying bills until they’re actually due. Of course take advantage of any incentives for early payment, but wait on the others.

 

10.) Secure A Credit Line

If you need help with your cash flow consider a line of credit with your local bank.

 

11.) Actively Monitor Your Cash Flow

Keep a close eye on your cash flow. Make sure that you know what has been paid and what is about to become due. Send reminders if necessary and make sure that you track any late fees.

 

12.) Hire a CPA

A CPA can help you in many areas.   They can guide you towards your financial goals, offer corrective suggestions, ensure you are taking advantage of the correct tax breaks or benefits, improve your cash flow, and so much more.   They can pay for themselves in savings.

 

Is Your Small Business In Danger Of Being Hacked?

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By Debbie Gregory.

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There is no way to completely secure any business against hackers. Even if you take every single precaution, you are still at risk from diligent criminals. Hackers seek out weaknesses and are very good at exploiting them. Thankfully there are a few things you can do to lower your chances of being hacked.

 

Focus Areas To Protect From Hacking:

 

1.) Professional IT support

If you do not have a professional IT (information technology) person or company working for you, get one. Criminals rarely discriminate between large and small companies and anyone can be exposed to a data hack. Paying a professional to evaluate your risks, install the right software, monitor activity, and keep everything up to date is a critical and essential business cost in our world today.

 

2.) Employee Training

Most security problems stem from employee-related errors. Things like clicking on bad websites, accidentally downloading or installing malicious software, opening up infected files, allowing fake IT companies remote access to their computer, etc. Invest in training a few times a year with a good IT security firm so that your employees are more aware of the potential problems they can face and how to avoid doing things that make your business more vulnerable.

 

3.) Employee Turnover

When employees leave a company, they tend to take data with them. This is usually not done maliciously.  However, there are always some people who may take things on purpose to sell to a competitor or for other potentially vengeful reasons. It is a good idea to have procedures in place for data when an employee exits your company.

 

4.) Remote Employees

Employees that are moving around outside of your company with your data are at a higher risk of that data being lost or stolen. If an employee or contractor is remotely connecting to your database or server through online services, these also have a chance of being hacked. Again, work with a professional IT person to make sure you have strong data management and connection tools in place for these remote workers and make sure they are being actively monitored.

 

5.) Employees’ Personal Devices

Are your employees allowed to bring and use their own devices for work? If so, their devices can create an easy way in for a hacker. Much like remote employees, any person using their own device for work should be monitored and secured by your IT professional.

 

6.) Old Outdated Computers and Operating Systems

Running older, out of date versions of Microsoft Windows or Apple’s iOS will leave you incredibly vulnerable to hackers. Make sure that all computers in your company are using the most recent version of whatever OS you utilize. If the hardware is unable to run the latest OS, then upgrade the hardware.

 

7.) Security Software

All devices used in your company need good security software. Always make sure that the software is up to date and that it is configured to run routine scans. Most security software applications are relatively inexpensive, they run quietly in the background of the device and check for malware, viruses, infected websites, and any other vulnerabilities in the system.

 

8.) Strong Passwords

Most people are still pretty lax with their passwords.   Can you believe the most common password today is still “1234?”  Make sure that you require strong passwords (a combination of letters, numbers and symbols) for all devices and make sure that those passwords are changed every month or two.

 

9.) Secure Your Data

Make sure that all data you handle is encrypted, backed up regularly, and stored securely. If your company handles data such as health, financial or other personal information about your customers, and it is stolen, you can have a huge problem on your hands. Make sure that you have polices and procedures in place to safeguard confidential customer data; and make sure that you train your employees to handle the data securely.

 

 

Unfortunately, you can’t completely avoid being hacked… but making sure you are taking care of the nine items listed above will increase your chances of avoiding hackers by quite a lot.

 

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