Top 10 Cities to Start a Business

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By Debbie Gregory.

Where is the best place to start your business? Below we have listed the top ten cities and chosen them based on seven key indicators that include:   rate of entrepreneurship; wage growth; job creation; population growth; net business creation; high-growth company density; early-stage funding deals:  The cities in descending order are:

10 – Portland, Oregon – Portland is experiencing a construction boom. The two sectors that are projected to grow the most over the next decade are health care and computer and electronics manufacturing. Currently, the startup areas that are booming include tech companies, early-stage food companies, and apparel companies.

9 – Orlando,Florida –  Orlando has become a high-technology hub with more than 200 aerospace and aviation companies in the city. Additionally, its modeling and simulation industry, that designs programs used for both military training and to power rides at the nearby theme parks, provides more than $4 billion in annual contracts.

8 – Denver, Colorado – Denver is growing due to technology such as A.I. and machine learning, followed by block-chain and cryptocurrency,

7 – San Diego, California – San Diego is the place for startups focused on life sciences, aerospace and biotech.

6 -San Jose, California – San Jose is home to three of the world’s most valuable companies–Apple, Google, and Facebook but there is a critical shortage of office space.  Housing is challenging with San Jose having some of the highest housing costs in the nation.

5 – San Francisco, California – Just north of San Jose, San Francisco is the birthplace of some of the most successful startups, including Uber, Airbnb, and Slack. San Francisco also has astronomical commercial rents and housing costs even higher than San Jose.

4 – Nashville, Tennessee  – Nashville has more than just a thriving music economy; the city’s biggest industry is health care. There are also more than 20 college and university campuses and is home to more megachurches than anywhere else in the country.

3 – Raleigh, North Carolina – Raleigh has been transformed into a software hub. The Research Triangle of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill boasts the fourth most educated population in the country, and forty-seven percent of the local talent pool holds a bachelor’s degree or higher

2 – Salt Lake City, Utah – Salt Lake has more than great snow. Tech giants such as Adobe, Electronic Arts, and Oracle all have offices there. The city is also one of the most affordable tech-centric places to live making it very desirable.

1 – Austin, TexasAustin has an extremely reasonable cost of living, loads of sunshine, well-educated people, and a fun streak.  Texas also does not have any state income tax making it highly desirable. Tech giants including Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Dropbox have all established large presences in Austin. Apple has announced it will be investing $1 billion to build a new campus that can eventually hold 15,000 new employees. There are also thriving startup scenes in food and drink, computer hardware, enterprise software, and consumer tech.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,


Payroll Tips for Veteran Owned Businesses

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By Debbie Gregory. 

If you’re hiring your first employee, congratulations! It’s important to start off on the right foot as an employer by making sure you follow all of the legal rules that now apply to you.

First of all, make sure you obtain your employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. Next, go to the Department of Labor’s website for a list of state unemployment insurance tax agencies. Make sure you have workers’ compensation insurance. Keep in mind that being an employer carries a number of new obligations and one of them is payroll taxes. There are some misconceptions about these taxes which are clarified as follows:

You may think that all tax-free fringe benefits are exempt from taxes, but the reality is that tax-free benefits for your employees such as 401 (k) contributions, company-provided cars, adoption assistance and dependent care assistance are subject to some employer paid taxes including FICA and FUTA taxes.

You may also be tempted to transition employees into independent contractors in order to save money, but the reality is that the IRS and other government agencies have strict guidelines that must be adhered to. By definition if you control when, where, and how work gets done, you’re likely dealing with an employee. An independent contractor is usually free from the control and direction of the hirer, works outside of the usual course of the hiring entity’s business, and performs the same type of work for others.

Don’t think that outsourcing to a payroll service provider relieves you of the liability for computing payroll taxes, withholding them from employees’ paychecks, remitting payroll taxes to the government, and filing employment tax returns. The ultimate responsibility is yours, so choose wisely. With this said, it is generally a good idea to use a reputable payroll service and well worth the cost.

You must deposit federal income taxes withheld including both the employer and employee share of FICA with the U.S. Treasury using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). Also, deposits are required for FUTA tax for the quarter within which the tax due is more than $500. If you are working with a reputable payroll service, they will handle this for you. Below is a list of some of the biggest payroll companies to consider:


· Paychex

· Deluxe

· Intuit Quickbooks Payroll

· Gusto

· Square

· Paycor

· Zenebits

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,

National K-9 Veterans Day Honors Dogs That Served

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By Debbie Gregory.

The United States K9 Corps were created on March 13, 1942, and this has been designated as National K-9 Veterans Day. Although it is an unofficial holiday, most dog lovers don’t need much of an excuse to celebrate “man’s best friend.”

Military K9s, Border Patrol K9s, Customs K9s, Police K9s, Secret Service K9s, Airport Service K9s and FBI K9s work to aid and protect us.  They preform important tasks and dangerous tasks such as search, rescue, explosives detection, scouting, patrolling and subduing suspects.

Some of the most relied upon breeds that perform this work include German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Labradors.

Today’s military dogs are valued.  They are important members of their military units and even have their own retirement ceremonies, awards and medals and memorial services.  Often they are adopted by a member of the team.

We salute non-profit American Humane’s Lois Pope LIFE Center for Military Affairs which helps reunite retired military dogs with their former handlers, provides veterans struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress, PTS with lifesaving service dogs, arranges free veterinary care for retired four-legged service members, and drives legislation that supports military dogs and their human counterparts.

A few extraordinary K-9s include:

  • Jag, a Labrador Retriever who retired in 2013 and served with the U.S. Army for seven years. Jag was adopted by battle buddy Sgt. Dennis Dow.
  • Jig, another Labrador Retriever who served with the U.S. Marine Corps for five years as an IED Detection Dog until he was medically retired do to an oral melanoma.
  • Kyria, a Dutch Shepard, who worked at Lackland AFB before joining the Albuquerque Police Department as an explosive detection canine.
  • Nico, a German Shepherd who served with the U.S. Navy Seals. Nico was eventually reunited with his handler.
  • Summer, a Labrador Retriever who served with the U.S. Marine Corps for five years and now serves with the TSA K-9 team for the D.C. Amtrak police.
  • Taker, a Labrador Retriever who retired in 2012 and served with the U.S. Marine Corps as an IED Detection Dog. Taker was adopted by battle buddy Sgt. Kevin Zuniga.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the canines who are placed in harm’s way to protect our servicemembers and first responders.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,


Conferences and Networking

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By Debbie Gregory.

Conferences offer you to connect your veteran small business with a variety of connections.  Some of the connections may include potential joint venture partner, potential clients, collaborators and supporters. Attending conferences can be an excellent way to learn new skills and support your professional development, but it’s not as easy as just showing up! There’s preparation and strategy involved in obtaining the most out from these events.

The main reason to attend a conference is to build meaningful relationships with key contacts. Attending a conference can provide you the time to have multiple meaningful interactions with each of those contacts. Time is at a premium, so use it wisely.

Our next tip is for you to map out your meetings. Try to schedule meetings in a logical geographical sequence so that you don’t waste time zig-zagging around the conference venue. Whenever possible, try to arrange a smaller, more intimate get-together over coffee or a meal with a few key contacts.

It is also important to define your goals in advance. What do you hope to get out of the conference? Are you looking for new relationships? Re-connecting with other contacts? Securing customers? A clear vision will serve you well.

Plan to attend the speeches or breakout sessions that are most likely to attract your target audience. Develop questions you have for this target audience or for experts who may be speaking, and practice asking them.  Also be prepared and have your collateral and business cards available to provide your important contacts.

We also advise that you make social media work for you. Search out conference attendees, speakers and sponsors using event hashtags beforehand.  Perhaps connect with them on Linked In too.

It is important to think in terms of the long game. You want to begin building a relationship. If you have not already connected in advance with key contacts, then try to connect with them on LinkedIn within 24-hours of meeting them. It is also a good idea to follow up with an email if you have their business card and contact information

Be friendly! Smile! Ask questions and learn.

Don’t just be a taker. Although most booths give out treats out to attendees, attendees can also bring some small treats/gifts placing your business identity front and center.

And no matter what, bring plenty of business cards!

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,




Military Traits That Serve Entrepreneurs

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By Debbie Gregory.

A disproportionate number of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) have military experience when compared to their civilian counterparts in the business world.  It is not a secret that skills acquired during military service provide individuals with a strong sense of leadership, as well as the ability to assemble a successful team. For military and veteran entrepreneurs who are in the early stages of launching their businesses, they would be well served to tap into their military training.

First and foremost, military training has taught servicemembers to lead with a clear vision and plan. Strong leaders have the right assets and tools in place to build trust and confidence in any situation. A leader should be a visionary and have greater foresight.   A leader should have the ability to accept and embrace failure.

Additionally, it is paramount to know and have a clear vision of your mission. By having a defined goal, you can then break that goal down into smaller, more manageable steps towards completion. Keeping mission focus at all times and also allow your people to be creative and innovative.

Your team is very important to your success.   Be sure to build a team that is prepared to pitch in and move out of their comfort zones.   When you embrace cultural diversity and different ways of thinking, you tap into a much greater pool of talent. Encourage your team to use their strengths to help your company succeed. Working as a cohesive unit will promote a sense of camaraderie which will help you through difficult times that may arise.

It’s no easy task to navigate the road to entrepreneurship. But if you’re a servicemember or a veteran considering this path, you already embody the courage, discipline and commitment it takes to begin this journey. It may not happen overnight, but in the end, the reward will be well worth it.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,